A few weeks ago in a Taipei park I had a bit of a surreal experience. Suddenly, standing in front of me was a group of people dressed in elaborate period costume—knights in armor, armed peasants, and a cloaked, sword-wielding man wearing a skeleton mask. Had I stumbled on some kind of weird Renaissance fair? Despite the Medieval-inspired garb and the period musical instruments being played, no. This was my introduction to the world of something called LARP—short for “live action role playing”. It’s a relatively new thing in Taiwan, but it seems to have taken root across the country. And it’s a bit of a difficult phenomenon to classify. People who take part in LARP games aren’t historical reenactors. Nor are they cosplayers, people who dress up as characters from their favorite works of fiction. To further complicate things, each LARP group has its own rules and aesthetic style. I was a bit confused at first, but the head of the group I happened upon in that Taipei park, Dennis Chou, is here with us today to explain what LARP is, what LARPers do, and why.
- 03 April, 2021