Ever since the god-awful documentary The Dungeon Masters, I’ve been wary of journalistic investigations of gamer culture, and I had serious reservations about Lizzie Stark’s Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games. Even though I had no pony in this race — I’ve never LARPed before, and still have little intention to — I don’t like seeing others’ harmless hobbies held up for ridicule.
Mercifully, Stark’s examination of the LARP world does no such thing, nor does it commit the opposite annoyance of inflating a recreational activity into some grandiose human endeavor (though, in her description of the high-concept art gaming of the Nordic LARP scene, she does come close, but with good reason). Stark presents the LARP world with a careful, measured hand, varied in its scope from self-conscious silliness to serious art, and all the while maintaining the consciousness that LARPers are real people with genuine human complications. Continue reading Review: Leaving Mundania