The variety of people I found was just stunning. If I had to characterize LARPers in general, I would say they are very friendly, very welcoming, and very community-oriented.

SO WHY IS LARP SO STIGMATIZED? A couple reasons: one, it comes out of the geek community, which historically was very stigmatized . . . and people think of dress-up as a childlike pastime. The other thing really has to do with the satanic panic of the '80s.

But I don't think any of those arguments hold water because there are plenty of people who play dress-up all the time. You can think of this as fantasy football, or Halloween, or Mardi Gras, or even the theater.

You can think of the different personas you put on in the course of a regular month. You're one person at the office. You're one person at home. You're one person when you're out with your friends. Sometimes you don't feel like going out with your friends because you don't feel like putting on a fun-loving persona. LARP is definitely a metaphor for life. ^

Lizzie Stark will appear at the Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard Street, Brookline, on Wednesday, May 16, at 7 pm.

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