(Featured Photo by Nemesia Production on Unsplash. This person, despite looks, is probably having fun.) It’s been a long time. I’ve got a lot of things to write: we have talks around Covid to have, how to shake off the larp rust, and how do we do this safely. But that’ll come in time. For now, as we’ve gently stuck our toes back into all-vaccinated larping, I’ve had a topic come up several times recently. Type 2 fun. Myself, and many of my friends (though not all), describe ourselves as “Type 2 larpers.” I even used this term before I fully understood what it meant or where it came from; all I knew is I liked it when larp made me cry and people called that Type 2. But knowing the various types of “fun” out there, understanding ALL the types, and understanding how they relate to you can be a great tool in your toolbox for how to make yourself a good larp experience. So, let’s get down to the question: What are the types of fun?
There’s a slightly longer article about the three types of fun here (https://goeast.ems.com/three-types-of-fun/), if you want to read a general perspective. If you don’t want to read the article, in short, types of fun come from sporting terminology. Type 1 is fun the whole time; planning, execution, recovery, you enjoy everything every step of the way. Type 2 fun rather sucks when you are doing it; it’s the hard run you puke during or the bike ride where you fall off a ton of times and get scraped up, but you enjoy it afterward and are glad you challenged yourself. Type 3 is when it’s never fun; beginning, middle, or after, Type 3 is not fun. It is pure misery during the whole damn thing. The goal in sports, and in larping, is NEVER to get yourself stuck in a Type 3 experience.
Now that you’ve had the overview, let’s talk about how this more directly relates to larp. Recognizing your type is a great resource to help you negotiate scenes, pick the games you are attending, fill out character surveys, and get the best experience you can for your own personality. Also, your type can change! Much like boundaries, you might be in a different space going into a game or even going into a scene. Don’t feel married to your ‘type’. Like introvert and extrovert, this is a sliding scale. Find where you are comfortable, learn and grow when you need, and trust your instincts most of all! You know yourself better than anyone else.
Type 1: Everything I do here is going to be fun for me! This doesn’t mean that you are only playing happy fluffy fun time larp. Some people consider type one fun games to be all sunshine and rainbows (My Little Pony, the Larp, which was delightful for what it was, is a good example.) But that’s not so. Type 1 fun can be a big battle that you come out on top in the end. It can be strained, ‘will they or won’t they’ romance. It could be sitting there and listening to someone else snotty cry through their in character traumatic story while you provide a supportive, caring shoulder. A friend recently described it as the MCU vs DC — there’s moments of struggle and darkness, but everything comes out for good in the end. It’s also not dark for the sake of darkness. I would not consider your ‘edge lord’ larps generally type 1 fun but, honestly, if that’s what YOU enjoy as a player, that might be YOUR type 1.
If you are a type 1 player, don’t look for larps that make you inherently uncomfortable when you read the description. Unless you want to stick your toes in type 2, try to stay with games you know you can play your sort of character, your favorite kind of stories, and stay mostly in a comfort zone. If you are in a game that stretches your comfort zone, know your own boundaries VERY WELL. Remember, a boundary is set BEFORE your limits, so you don’t cross your limits accidentally. I wrote a whole blog about it. When you are talking to people about what you want in a story, set clear boundaries with them so when things get caught up in the moment and you come close to boundaries, you aren’t crossing them. It means you might not want to play characters who deeply hate each other, or be in a faction that will leave you out all the time. It might mean negotiating with people during antagonistic roleplay so your ‘punishment’ is not so severe you are no longer having fun. There is no shame in setting boundaries, but if you are a type 1 player, it’s extra important. That will keep you in the happy zone out of character, even if things are going hard in character.
Type 2: This hurts. Everything hurts and I’m crying. I’ll be so happy to have gone through it all in the end. This type of fun isn’t just wanting to go through drama in character, or even just wanting to have a good cry at a larp. You can be a type 1 larper and still cry, but it’s because of your character emotions, not because yourself OUT OF CHARACTER. Many type 2 larps are things that sound uncomfortable upon reading them. Velvet Noir was, over all, a type 2 larp. We were putting ourselves in uncomfortable spaces in character AND out of character to learn things. In this type of fun, you should know your limits but sometimes be willing to push beyond your boundaries. You might go through some trauma along the way, but you know it will teach you something in the end. It also is a type where you might ALWAYS be willing to play through dark, hard things. Playing the villain, an outcast, in a loveless relationship, heavily abused characters, or things that deal with heavy themes like addiction are all examples that could make up type 2 fun. These are things that should be researched, handled with care and respect, but also won’t generally be fun in the moment to play.
If you are a type 2 player, it’s incredibly important to know your LIMITS. If you want to massage boundaries, or play in areas that might be generally uncomfortable for you, that’s fine. It’s a part of pushing into hard topics or emotionally exhausting yourself through a larp. However, you need to know when you are going to push into type 3 fun and STOP before you ever do. Many of us walk a tightrope between doing genuine emotional damage to ourselves because we are chasing such hard play that we blew past our limits without realizing it, and then came out of a larp genuinely traumatized instead of having gone through a catharsis.
I think many of us who say we are type 2 larpers actually walk a pretty slippery line between type 1 and type 2. I know I do, especially post pandemic. I’ve found myself wanting to play in my comfort areas far more and uncertain if I want to push myself into the misery zone, especially after 1.5 years of misery. It’s far more healthy to lean towards the type 1 side of type 2 instead of the opposite. Take care of yourself, be careful of Type 3 in the distance.
Type 3: (AKA: Not actually definable as fun.) That hurt. That was awful. I’m still hurting. I made a mistake. I should probably talk to someone or get help. In sports, this is often physical help. In larp, it could be a few long sessions with your therapist, or deep talks with your friends and facilitators to go through a lot more intense debrief. I don’t want to harp on type 3, because it’s not something any of us should be chasing. If you have gotten in over your head and you realize you are being harmed, physically or emotionally, out of character, you have walked into a type 3 experience. Stop the scene, pull away, go find a facilitator or someone you trust to get yourself help. But don’t stay in type 3. Your health is more important than a game.
As we stick our toes back into larping and socializing after the pandemic, please give yourself permission to lean towards type 1 fun. We need to be gentle with our bodies and our hearts while we all figure out how to do this again. Remember WHY you started larping in the first place, what you love about larp, and how to do it again comfortably before you decide to start breaking yourself.
That being said, I understand those of us diving back into the pain. Everyone processes trauma and grief differently. Do it the best way that works for you, but please take care of yourself along the way and talk to a professional if you can (I know those are loaded words, damn US healthcare.) We all need therapy after the last two years.
Until next time, I can’t wait to tell stories with you again.