Do you remember that scene in Total Recall where Arnold is being followed around by that ad for this new high tech vacation package?
It’s based on a Philip K Dick story so it seemed like such a crazy idea at the time it came out. I’m not talking about the implanting memories part. That is very sci-fi, but the promise of mental as well as physical escape is becoming increasingly attractive for holiday makers. Instead of just taking a break from your job and visiting a new place, you are taking a break from being you and imagining yourself in a distant fantasy world.
Live Action Role Playing (LARP) can take many forms, but at its most basic it is about throwing yourself into another world so it can include:
- Historical re-enactors: authenticity is prized, and these have become a popular teaching tool
- Medieval fairs: those involved camp for days and only eat the food and use the tools available at the time
- Rock’n Roll camps: learn about writing and performing music as well as the image that makes rockers famous
- Dude ranches: learn to rope, ride horses, tracking, and taking care of livestock
- Murder Mystery: most of these are period based and nearly all of them involve a mole working against you
- Spy Games: these are becoming increasingly popular team building exercises
However, there is even more potential for excitement, when you don’t know the outcome:
- Alternate Reality Games: these follow a narrative style and use a range of different media but are played in the real world
It’s still a niche, but going on a role playing holiday is becoming increasingly popular.
In ARG’s, players often have to decipher codes, visit key checkpoints, talk to people, buy certain products or watch programs for hidden clues to their next step. There is no way to measure your progress or tell how close you are to the end. Game designers are sworn to secrecy and the organizers do not even acknowledge that you are playing a game while the game is still going on. As a result, you have no way of knowing what is part of the game and what isn’t.
The mystery is a big part of the rush.
Try to think about Michael Douglas in The Game. It was one of the inspirations for early ARG’s.
If you could be someone else in some alternate world (even if it was only for a few days), who would you choose? Tell us in the comments