By Jared Payne
I imagine many people still have some stereotypical images in mind when they hear the words “Nerd” or “Geek”: A pasty, bespectacled, awkward person who would rather play on a screen by themselves than outside interacting with other people.
It is true many of us introverted types still prefer to stay indoors and keep to ourselves most of the time. However we do occasionally crave social interaction just like everyone else and like many people we also strive to find a form of exercise that isn’t unpleasant or boring for us. Now most folks would probably just start jogging or get a gym membership to get their exercise and would just make new friends to be their “workout buddies” or “jogging partners” or whatever the cool kids are calling them these days.
That works well enough I guess but the problem is that, if you are of a geekish persuasion and your experiences have been anything like mine, you’ll find very few people in the traditional “workout crowd” who would want to talk for hours on end about the fictional worlds of “The Lord of The Rings”, “Doctor Who”, “Star Wars”, or heaven forbid “Dungeons & Dragons”. Working out at home wouldn’t be satisfactory either as we would be getting our exercise but wouldn’t be getting any social interaction at all (Facebook doesn’t count).
So how do we nerds fulfill both the need for social engagement as well as physical activity? The answer is in an activity that combines both in a very geek and nerd friendly theme:
Live Action Role Play or LARP for short.
In a nutshell, LARP is the same concept as any other role playing game. Whether you be more familiar with video games such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy and Skyrim or possibly more old school pen and paper games like Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder; the idea remains the same: You assume the role of a fictional character and go on fantastic adventures. The main difference is that a LARP is all played out in person with other real people. It provides a great opportunity to make some new nerdy friends and get some fresh air as well.
Now, I may have have lost some of you and you may be already moving on to the next article and that’s OK. Understandably, this type of activity may not appeal to everyone. However, If have piqued your interest, I encourage you to read on and I will tell you about the LARP I participate in called Amtgard.
Amtgard is a medieval fantasy LARP organization with chapters of all sizes spanning across the country, including one right here in Alaska. Other than playing games, Amtgard members also enjoy coming together for many other medieval themed activities and hobbies such as sewing, cooking, leatherworking, music, blacksmithing, writing, and arts of varying mediums.
The main type of game Amtgard players take part in is called “Battle Games”, wherein two or more teams of players engage in medieval style combat in order to complete a game objective (I.E. Capture the Flag, Slay the enemy captain etc.). For safety, all Amtgard weapons are foam covered “boffer” weapons to reduce the risk of possible injury to players. Typically, these games last about 45 minutes to an hour, and are all overseen by one or more referees called “Reeves”.
We love meeting new players, so if you’re feeling the need to make some new nerdy friends and to get some fun exercise I highly encourage you to check out Astral Winds, the Fairbanks Amtgard chapter. Keep in mind that you must be 14 or older to participate in battle games and if you are under 18 you must have a parent’s permission. During the summer, we meet at Growden Park across from the Carlson Center on Saturdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If you would like more information, you can check on the web at akamtgard.com or you can visit the Astral Winds Facebook page.