Adult Let’s Pretend is the best thing ever. I’ve thought that ever since I started going to LRP. When I was a kid, I used to play ‘Let’s Pretend’ all the time. Just down the road from where I grew up is an alleyway and in its time, that alleyway has been a river, a mountain path, the corridor of a spaceship… you name it, it’s been it. Me and the friends I used to play with have been runaways, soldiers, intrepid space explorers and all kinds of wonderful things.
When I got a bit older, I discovered tabletop RP. This gave me an outlet for Let’s Pretend that didn’t make me suffer the consequences of being a young adult running up and down an alleyway and drawing suspicious looks from the locals. I still tabletop regularly (we’re on ‘Rogue Trader’ at the moment, but I’m DYING to get onto ‘Deathwatch’).
Ten years ago, I discovered the Wonderful (there may be a certain level of sarcasm implicit there) World of LRP. The first event I went to I did so because I had had a few awful months and my friend Crys suggested that I might enjoy it as an outlet where I could just let rip with the emotions. I didn’t really enjoy it at all, in part because I felt self-conscious. But there was something there that drew me back to the next event. This time, I let go of the inhibitions a little and I started to enjoy it.
It’s a challenge to play Let’s Pretend as an adult, because you are always acutely aware that you are an adult and society encourages us to remember that games of imagination are the domain of children. You feel eyes on you and for someone like me who has all kinds of complicated adult hang ups, that’s difficult. You don’t throw yourself into it as much as you know you’re capable of because you’re ashamed that someone might snicker behind your back and say ‘look at that idiot’.
Then you click. For some people, that’s a process that happens immediately. For me, it took me perhaps five years to really make the realisation.
Everyone else is playing Let’s Pretend as well.
At that point, I started really having fun and I challenged myself by becoming a ritual contributor. There’s no way, I told myself, you’ll ever be able to stand in that little space and make things up on the spot… and sound convincing. Turns out I have a pretty passable line in incomprehensible bullshit. A thing for me to feel proud of? Actually, yes.
But for an assortment of reasons, I took a year out this year and part of me has missed… something. Until last night, I wasn’t sure what it was. The people, obviously. Most of them. But I’ve been missing the opportunity to get my roleplay on. To just let go and have a really good shout and rant. I got to do that last night. I went to be part of the crew at Battlefield Live: Modern Warfare and had a blast. The majority of the guys who were paying to play aren’t roleplayers, but my goodness, we forced it on them. And they reacted to it.
Although they have a worrying habit of shooting the knees of their captives.
But you know. Screaming in pretend agony at the top of your lungs in a deserted leisure centre in the dark at midnight on a Saturday… is cathartic.