Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monster Camp (not to be confused with Monster Squad)

The film Monster Camp provides a voyeuristic window into the world of NERO, the fantasy Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) game in which costumed players challenge each other to physical battles and other staged adventures played out in weekend getaways. And by physical battles, I mean they hit each other repeatedly with foam swords while yelling out spells.

The battles are basically organized chaos. The players fit every dork stereotype—over-enunciating pasty guys with faint moustaches & frizzy pony tails, stern pudgy girls with bushy eyebrows, etc. Their costumes usually involve face paint, felt and sweatpants. When they aren’t playing NERO, many retreat to their basements where they play hours of online fantasy games like World of Warcraft.

The film is pretty entertaining, albeit a little repetitive. It’s especially made for those (like myself) who are really into seeing how the other half lives, but I really wish they delved deeper into the lives of the players outside the game. Some highlights include a guy who eats what appear to be two Denny’s Grandslam breakfasts in order to prepare for what he anticipates to be the vigorous “physical activity” ahead of him. Later, in the midst of one of the battles, he starts wheezing, doubled over and out of breath. Cut to the next scene in which someone has brought him another heaping pile of emergency food, to which he devours standing up, I guess to help open up his lung passages.

There is also a sea elf who, after learning her race has become extinct, tears up and proceeds to question whether people really understand what this is going to mean for global maritime trade and commerce.

Ok, so you can laugh your ass off (and believe me I did) at these folks and their escapist world. But before you dismiss this as a fringe group of freaks from the middle of nowhere, keep in mind there are close to 50 NERO Chapters within the US and Canada. And really, why should it be any more acceptable to watch hours of The Wire (or Arrested Development, as I am doing this very minute) or avidly follow the Eagles or Phillies from your recliner as you suck down beers while sporting your favorite player’s jersey?

Everyone needs to escape once and a while. Even more important is the fact that these people have found a community and they are getting up off the couch and into some fresh air. It’s obvious that many have made the first real friends they’ve ever had. And for others, it is probably the only chance they’ll ever have to get laid! So I say, good on ya, larpers!

1 comment:

JAB said...

Those guys are hot! Two grand slam breakfast BEFORE a foam sword fight? Thats sexy. I like a man who lives with danger.