about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Shocked Out of Character

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Another comment about the Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) Event at Origins.

One of the things that, at least to me, seems to happen as you get immersed is that prior experience takes over. As long as what you are doing is familiar to your prior experience, you are able to function more or less by rote. This does not mean that you are not thinking and reacting, just that a lot of more or less routine operations are (as happens in normal life) handed off to secondary processors. (None of you, who drive cars, really thinks about what you are doing, your mind is often elsewhere until something catches your attention. That might be something unusual in the traffic pattern, or not on the street, or it might be a warning light on your dashboard. As much as you are told to focus on your driving, the fact is that the mind will wander if it starts to become bored, and driving over time is boring.)

A similar thing happens in the LARP.

While I am trying to process data and make decisions and keep track of what is around me, something completely out of step could (and did) literally shock me "out of character". This happened several times, and each time it took a little time to recover back into character. I tend to think the time interval between being shocked and getting started again got smaller and smaller as things progressed.

But an example.

When we were all in the police station, the executive made contact with the outside on the radio (which was actually an old military TA312-PT field telephone). He then started a casual conversation with the person on the other end, this before explaining our situation. At that juncture, without thinking, I literally tore the handset from his hand (I am convinced that he actually was an actor as part of the show, and not one of the gamers) and proceeded to inform the person on the other end of our situation . . . except that there was no person on the other end. I have spoken on enough field telephones to recognize a dead line with no one at all on the other end.

That shocked me out of character because it was not what it should have been. It took a few moments, two, maybe three seconds, to realize that the phone was dead, and the "executive" was playacting the call. Enough time to hand the receiver back to him, but a few more seconds were needed to digest this "complete break with reality" and start subsuming back into character.

Events of that nature happened several times (this was close to just about the last one).