Living in the Apocalypse: The Living Games Conference

The Living Games Conference took New York by storm. Men and women gathered together to discuss the theories and reasons behind LARP and what it takes to run a game. The first of its kind, the conference was an intellectual discussion about live action role-play, hosted by NYU at its Game Center.

In addition to the discussions and speakers (including our own Ashley Zdeb and Michael Pucci), there were also live demos of the LARP games. Needless to say, one of them was Dystopia Rising, and it was a hit. Players geared up for the apocalypse,  temporarily becoming the personas they created as they adventured through the fallen world.

“Most every new player said they wanted to play to challenge themselves,” said Ericka Skirpan, a Story Teller for the Dystopia Rising New Jersey game, who ran a module at the Living Games Conference. “Nordic style LARPers and an Edu-LARPer—none of them had ever done a scenario with live, safe-contact combat or a straight up horror game. They wanted to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and boundaries in a way that freeform LARPs did not.”

There are many forms of LARP in the world—whether it’s boffer LARP, parlor LARP, or Nordic LARP. The Living Games Conference provided a forum for all of these different styles to come together and discuss their differences (and similarities). Dystopia Rising in particular prides itself on combat that’s in real time. It doesn’t take minutes to determine the outcome of a conflict. Instead, it’s instantaneous.

“They gave over to the tension and speed of boffer combat while maintaining character,” said Skirpan, as she described the players who participated in the Dystopia Rising module. “The horrified screams of dying characters within the second wave of zombies in the room told me that they finally ‘got it.’”

The players battled zombies as they journeyed through the Brokelands, the post-apocalyptic version of Brooklyn. They dealt with rival gangs battling to the death while trying to do their best to survive the horrors of the undead. The end result? The players loved it.

“People really loved being able to physically interact with their space in the combative way as well as actively play through a fighting for their lives (literally) scenario,” said Skirpan.

The Living Games Conference was a roaring success—and Dystopia Rising was there for all of the action. Those who attended are looking forward to the next one—assuming it becomes a yearly occurrence.

“I think it was a fascinating start for something that could be quite interesting and productive year after year,” said Skirpan. “North America—and the world for that matter—needs a conference where all forms of LARP can join together and grow for speaking with each other. Watching the cross-disciplinary mixing of the different LARP styles was certainly my favorite part of the conference.”