When most people think of live-action role-playing, they think of these guys:
Apparently, however, they’re not all like this. Greg Costikyan reports on Europa, a LARP that explored issues of Otherness in wartime refugee situations. A camp in Vestby, Norway became a refugee center for victims of a fictional Scandinavian conflict. Fleeing from atrocities committed by rival Scandinavian ethnics, the players were processed into a bureaucracy-ridden refugee camp staffed by oppressive “Orsinians” who spoke an incomprehensible language amongst themselves. Players remained in character for four days.
Of the session, Costikyan writes:
Reading through something like the Europa documents makes me despair of "games for change" types who want to explore issues like this and meaningfully impact peoples' attitudes with, say, Flash applications. Games can do this; games can be powerful. But not with a platformer, for God's sake. This is how it's done.
His statement is telling, and seems to reflect the argument that a certain level of player-avatar connection must be felt in order for the game to be meaningful and have a real emotional impact.