It can be fascinating to see the results when two or more distinct subcultures or disciplines start to share ideas. On Friday evening I'm going along to the first Midway LARP event, in HRTA in north county Dublin. Midway is a mix of airsoft, Irish-style LARPing and UK-style LARPing.
Let's take this one step at a time. Airsoft is like paintball, but using air-guns. It's fun and challenging and one of the fastest growing hobbies in Ireland. LARP means very different things to different people. In Ireland LARP is similar to improv acting and tends to involve a lot of talking to other characters. In the UK and the US, LARP typically refers to hitting people with latex-foam weapons in a game based in a high-fantasy-medieval setting - if you've seen the film Role Models you'll know what I mean.
Midway combines these three elements: the politics of an Irish LARP with the physicality of airsoft and "rubber-sword" UK-style LARPs. Mil-sim airsoft games (i.e. games aiming for greater realism) sometimes have a LARP element, but the crucial missing-link of such airsoft games is that most players do not have a specific named character: they play a generic soldier with an assault rifle. I'm hopeful that this element of the Midway LARP will increase the impact of "character death" - you can't just respawn and be back in the game 30 minutes after being shot as if nothing had happened.
The game is set in a post-Apocalyptic world, a full century after the fall of civilisation. This provides the justification for crossing two very different forms of combat, the hand-to-hand melee of LARPing with the ranged combat of airsoft. Making those work together will be a challenge and should be interesting to watch: while guns will usually be superior to melee weapons such as swords, they suffer from the need for precious ammunition.
Midway is being run by internationally-acclaimed LARP writer Nick Huggins and starts on Friday 3rd September 2010. Another game is planned for later in the month.