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Zombies + LARP= DARP?

Posted 5/18/08

Disclaimer: The following article is the sole opinion of Arthur Helms. ZWN and it's affiliates do not influence, endorse nor are accountable for Mr. Helms opinions. Bookmark and Share

Most of us know about role playing games. Those three words usually bring to mind visions of gawky teenagers in their wizardly bathrobes and paper helmets, consuming large amounts of caffeine while rolling oddly-shaped dice and thumbing through encyclopedia-sized rulebooks in an attempt to get their characters to live through their Dungeon Master’s latest lethal adventure. But within that social layer is another, deeper one. Of course I’m talking about Live Action Role Playing, or LARP. A LARP player is a role gamer, not a “roll gamer”; they don’t use dice and volumes of rules. These gamers dress and act the part of their characters and engage in full-contact combat with either blunted or foam-replica weapons in an attempt to get their characters to live through their Dungeon Master’s latest lethal adventure. LARP goes by many other names, ones you may be surprised by. Civil War reenactors? Probably the original LARPers. Paintball enthusiasts that take on unit names and military personas? They’d disagree with the label, but these are LARPers as well. There are even Old West enthusiasts that gather together, taking on the personas of distant cowboy relatives or creating characters from whole cloth. Definitely LARP. It only stands to reason that someone would come along with a zombie LARP, doesn’t it?

“Okay, Art… what the hell does this have to do with anything?” you ask, Dear Reader? At first glance, one would think a group of people playing a live-action simulation of an undead outbreak and attack would be in poor taste at best and even dangerous at worst in light of the threats the real world is facing from the plague and the undead. I thought this, too. At first. However, after much thought and research, I have come to believe this type of activity can be a good thing, in the same vein as keeping our Halloween traditions alive and the countless horror conventions held every year. But there’s more to this than may meet the eye.

“Art, role-playing? Seriously…” Yes, Dear Reader, seriously. Do you think the Boy Scouts of America taught gun safety and marksmanship (two things that are rapidly being demonized out of that august corps thanks to political correctness, by the way) just for filler between knot-tying classes? No, the Boy Scouts taught these things so that the boys of the day could be the soldiers of tomorrow, to introduce them to the rigors of uniformed life and to learn to hold their country, their countrymen and their God close to their hearts. No matter what you may think about boys and young men being taught how to handle a weapon or how to properly respect our nation’s flag, were it not for such early training I firmly believe we would not have had the fine citizen fighting force we were able to liberate the world with through World War II. Flash forward, starting in the 1980’s and continuing on even through today. The kids that hung out in the video arcades (an electronic form of role playing) of my adolescence became the first generation able to comprehend computer warfare, un-manned aircraft and “smart” weaponry. Had it not been for kids over the last three generations honing their hand-eye coordination and tech’ savvy before even thinking of joining the military we would be even further behind the global curve of the modern military machine.

“Okay Art… I suppose now you’re going to draw some kind of correlation between these things and people running around the woods, hitting other people with foam-covered sticks and shooting them with soft projectiles…” Oh, Dear Reader, you know me so well. Like the Boy Scouts of old and those much-maligned computer geeks and arcade denizens, LARP in this fashion can become a future benefit, provided it is done properly. The name of any game is, of course, to have fun. But beneath that lies the same reasoning behind the bivouacs and training exercises our military constantly conducts. To be a successful undead LARP player you must learn how to move quietly over varied terrain, lighting conditions and weather. You must learn how to act quickly and think even more so. You must hone your senses and be able to use your environment to your best advantage. You must learn not only what your weapons are capable of, but what you are capable of as well. You have to learn to deal with the stress and pressure of attacking and being attacked, and you have to train yourself not to run screaming or be startled easily by the sudden appearance of an “undead”. In short, for your character to survive, YOU have to survive.
Wow. Sounds just like the skills you’d need in your toolbox in the face of a real undead outbreak, doesn’t it?

This kind of thing isn’t for everyone. But for those of you that have never served in the military or have never been forced into a critical or life-threatening situation, there are few better simulators. If you want to see how you’d REALLY act and react in an outbreak situation, you would do well to attend one. The plague knows no boundaries. It has hit almost every continent, from Third-World struggling nations to Miami, Florida. The plague has even touched the wilds of Alaska. How long before it touches you, Dear Reader? And, more importantly, when its cold hands reach out for you, will you be ready?


Read our entertainment section for further details of a zombie role playing event

and please visit this link for an upcoming event in Ohio


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Arthur Helms is a syndicated columnist who has dealt with a host of social and political issues. His previous syndicated column, “Logic, Please?” offered commentary on a host of world-view issues as seen through the cold yet bright light of plain logic, demonstrated fact and simple common sense.

While the academic and political elite often dismissed his commentary as “too simplistic” for our complicated times, his books of collected columns and hundreds of national speaking engagements each year attest to his connection to a readership yearning for simple answers to complex issues. Helms recently ended his syndicated column to sign on exclusively with Zombie World News, providing a fresh, logical,
plain-English view of the plague and to bring some common sense to what many perceive to be a senseless situation.

Have an opinion about this article? Respond to:
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