First up for me was Garrett's Dead Space RPG. I had played the demo, which made me the most knowledgeable about the source material I think. Which is not a problem, since the whole point is to scare the pants off you with the unexpected. It went well: fast-paced, high tension, limited resources, stressful timing deadlines. If there was any problem, it was that the gods of luck smiled on us too much in the final showdown. Good scary fun.
Next up, aaronjv ran The Tribunal, an award-winning LARP created by jiituomas. The 12 players play soldiers in a totalitarian state, faced with a difficult decision: whether to value honesty over expediency. I'm torn about how much I should or shouldn't reveal. One part of me says it doesn't matter since whatever happens is almost entirely the product of the players; the other part says that hearing the rationalizations or bullshit produced by one set of players might affect future players who read about it, and thus color whatever they would ultimately produce. I'll err on the side of caution and step back a bit.
I enjoyed the experience. This is perhaps controversial. Some people (named Aaron) have denigrated the idea that LARP is merely (?) an enjoyable pastime. It is Art with a capital A. I don't have a problem with that, except that in its extreme form Art becomes Pollock and Rothko. You're a rube if you expect to enjoy it, it's Art fer crissakes. Art!
I had my doubts about whether I would enjoy being an ant in a totalitarian army. But I came in to the game with not only an open mind, but a willingness and readiness to do it right. And the other participants probably saw me red-faced and shouting more in those couple hours than in the rest of their experience of me. Anyway, my awesome role-playing (relatively speaking) is beside the point; the point is that I enjoyed the experience. But am I supposed to enjoy my Brussels Sprouts?
My answer is that I don't care. LARP for me is an enjoyable pastime, and as long as I enjoy it I will continue to participate. It may also be Art; it may also be therapy; it may also be escapism; I don't care: Philistine that I am, I'm only interested in doing it if I enjoy it.
Anyway, stepping back in. I liked the way that character names instantly invoked associations that helped to establish character, and aided others in remembering same. I liked the way that the game was essentially entirely created by the players rather than directed from outside. The game relies on the players being willing to play, and I'm glad we had a group up to the challenge.
Following that was an impromptu meeting of the Live Game Labs & other interested parties, wherein we plotted the future of American LARP while simultaneously solving the problem of monetizing LARP and trading juicy gossip.