Story as real as role play

Danish company claims Daily Mail report about coke-snorting gamers is greatly exaggerated

The founder of a company that facilitates live action role playing (LARPing) has rubbished a report in England’s Daily Mail that claimed a group of Copenhagen gamers stayed up for “50 hours straight” pretending to be advertising executives”.

Claus Raasted, the founder of Rollespilsfabrikken, confirmed to The Copenhagen Post that the participants only played the game for 36 hours, with several breaks in between.

However, that didn’t stop the Daily Mail from going into indignant overdrive, proclaiming: “Bizarre Danish role-playing game where players go 50 HOURS straight pretending to be coke-snorting advertising executives”, and claiming that one of the gamers had a breakdown.

The English tabloid’s report, said Raasted, was “exaggerated”, and the breakdown better described as a “timeout”, although he did concede that the game in question, PanoptiCorp, promised its participants that they would behave like “the worst human beings possible”.

PanoptiCorp was played by 40 gamers at a Copenhagen studio in June and filmed as part of an insight into the world of LARP enthusiasts.

PanoptiCorp cast its participants as colleagues at an advertising agency, who over the duration of 36 hours are challenged to produce a number of ad campaigns according to strict stipulations and tight deadlines.

“The idea of being ‘locked in’ is a little exaggerated,” Raasted told The Copenhagen Post. “The gamers had the option to ‘sleep out’ on the first night and had the option of voluntary breaks throughout.”

Raasted also thought the Daily Mail had got the wrong idea of what the game was about.

“The idea of the gamers being ‘contestants’ is a strange way of putting it,” he continued. “This is more like collective performance art. There is nothing to win. It is simply playing pretend in a safe environment.”

Rollespilsfabrikken is no stranger to controversy, revealed Raasted. In 2001, it ran a LARP called Kapo that functioned like a modified Stanford prison experiment – the infamous 1971 American study in which participants role-played as guards and inmates.

Nevertheless, said Raasted, there are always safety nets and timeouts are always available to gamers. “This is an identity experiment in a safe zone, where gamers know and trust each other,” he said.

Rollespilsfabrikken, Denmark’s largest role-playing club, organises LARP events for both adults and children, inspired by genre fiction, such as fantasy and sci-fi.

Denmark is now recognised as a global hotspot for LARPing, with over 100,000 participants country-wide. LARPing is the country’s third-most popular organised activity, behind football and handball, according to ‘Leaving Mundania’, a book about global LARPing culture.

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