Welcome! I will be your guide in the heavily nerd-populated world of LARPing. Since you are a layman, allow me to explain to you what exactly LARPing is: it is an abbreviation for Live Action Role-Playing, which is a live enactment of either tabletop games where you assume a role/character and complete tasks, or a certain narrative… and this thing is HUGE! There are a vast number of subgenres of LARPing, venues that recreate environments/settings of the games, and a whole industry of designers, writers, and even artists that help construct elaborate settings, scenarios, and weapons. The question remains: is there money in LARPing? Hell, yes! And here are just some of the ways people capitalize on pure fantasy… and latex foam.
First off, there is an astoundingly large ecosystem surrounding the hobby/entertainment/pastime of LARPing. From weapons regulations to armor restriction (dependent on your level), and even unboxing/review videos with hundreds of thousands of views. Hey, that’s another way to make money: reviewing LARPing regalia on YouTube, but that’s a story for a different entry.
So, I kind of started with the pricier side of things. These latex foam/cell foam weapons come at a significant cost but, honestly, look at these things – can you imagine what how much fun it would be to whack someone with one of these? It seems that the three primary stores, or should I say LARP armories, are Dark Knight Armoury, Calimacil, and Medieval Collectibles, which not only carry weapons but also props (such as severed human limbs), crosses, and even bottles – because plastic bottles are extremely difficult to source, apparently.
Sure, you can take a baggy wool coat and put a wide leather belt on and call it a day, but why go the cheap route when you can invest hundreds of dollars in simulated armor? A full-out Dwarf Leather Armor Set will put you back a respectable €649 (or $736), or if you feel like investing in a 2001 Honda Accord’s worth of money, you can wrap yourself in intimidating steel for a lean €2,999 (that’s about $3,400, folks – or almost a month’s salary for most).
I’ll reiterate: that’s just armor… if you want to be fantasy era specific, you can purchase tunics, trousers, breeches, tights, gloves, and accessories to round off the look. If you feel like taking a fashion risk, you might even purchase a licensed costume of your favorite video game/fantasy title, but it’s going to be really awkward when two Ezios show up to the LARP meeting.
Obviously, with the popularity of games (the following trailers are pretty gruesome; you have been warned) like Left 4 Dead, Dying Light, and Dead Rising, and TV shows like The Walking Dead, there is now a new genre of LARPing known creatively as Zombie LARPing.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last four years (let’s say 47 years if you want to be a stickler), zombies are the reanimated dead that turn you into a zombie when you are bitten or, in some universes, even scratched. Well, the LARPers are a group of survivors against a group of zombies, and the rules allow for the use of Nerf guns (if they aren’t modified enough to hurt the person being shot) and melee weapons such as this amazing chainsaw sword. On top of that, though, you can add sewer cap shields, riot shields, knuckledusters, and improvised bladed weapons like a Steampunk Stun Rod… Yeah, excuse me while I empty my bank account.
Talking About LARP
As you saw in the video above, the young, red-haired lady spoke as a noob to the noob – which is a gaming term, meaning newbie. She even interviews some veterans of previous LARP engagements and campaigns to get insight for the noob LARPer. This video has a whopping 267,000+ views. YouTube will generally pay a content creator $5/1,000 views (of an ad, not a video – meh), so if even half of the people above clicked on the ads, that video made its author about $667.50 which she then split with YouTube down the middle. That’s still $333.75, and all for talking about something you are extremely passionate about anyway (and have probably spent a buttload of money on, so it’s nice if you could get some of that back).
The Genres and How to Exploit Them
OK, so first, you have three primary types of LARPing: Boffer, which uses soft weapons and soft hits; Salon in which there are no weapons but it’s based on character interaction (in the vein of a reenactment); and Real-Steel aka the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) which is arguably the most epic because, as the name suggests, it’s full contact, no-holds-barred, head-to-toe armored meleeing.
Obviously, each genre has different costume and equipment demands, with Real-Steel being the most financially damning of all what with most weapons being north of $200. Let’s not even get into the armor and protective clothing necessary to don said armor. Beyond these three categories though, you also have genres such as Modern, Fantasy, Supernatural, Horror, Historical, and Post-Apocalyptic. And you can get extremely creative with how you market costumes, weapons, and accessories; for example, medieval clothing can be easily presented as both fantasy and steampunk. A steel gauntlet can be used for fantasy, medieval, and zombie LARPing – just by changing its name to “undead brain smasher” or something equivalent.
So, not necessarily a way to make money from LARPing, but it’s always good to know your market. Consider this: the rules change depending on the region the roleplaying takes place. For example, due to the fact that Russians take everything and add ample amounts of insanity to the game, hard plastic, wooden weapons, and hard-hitting are all permitted… you know what? I can’t do it enough justice; just check out the video above. It’s a full-out armor-crunching battle, complete with injured being carried out in period appropriate stretchers to the sound of raging rock music (which is less historically accurate, but I’ll allow it because it’s badass). So, if you want to do that in the western world, you’ll have to participate in the SCA; here’s a video that shows you what’s involved:
Finally, the last way to make money with LARPing is by having your own venue. LARP meetings can last anywhere from a few hours to a whole afternoon and sometimes even a few days. Some of the LARP venues will offer areas to sleep (ka-ching! That’s rent), food (ka-ching! That’s food profit), and other amenities such as showers and restrooms (not so much “ka-ching!” but you’re obligated by law to have that kind of stuff). So, now that you have some of the necessary tools to make money with LARPin,g go forth, lightly beat on someone with a foam sword, and be merry – may the force be with you, the odds ever be in your favor, and what not.
Are you a LARPer? Do you work in or make a living with LARPing? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!