Friday, January 29, 2010

Monster Camp

While we were gaming last weekend, Adam mentioned that he'd watched a movie called Monster Camp. Both Kyle and I doubted him, thinking that he was referring to Darkon. But he was correct that there are two movies involving LARPing, both of them enjoyable. Now, I'm going to make fun of the movie because, well...there was so much to make fun of. But if you're a LARPer coming to my blog, don't get upset. I actually have a little bit of respect for people who really enjoy their hobby and gain some sort of friendship and benefit from it. It's not difficult to see that I can be a little overboard with geocaching and bicycling now and then. I did take my daughter on a search for 13 bloody geocaches, and hauled her along on RAGBRAI. In Monster Camp, I was particularly impressed with the woman in a wheel chair who stated that Nero (the LARP) allowed her to sit behind the table, help other players, and they assumed she was just another LARPer sitting down. She seldom played, but found great satisfaction in making costumes and helping where she could. There seemed to be no doubt, looking at her, that she was deriving mental benefit from LARPing in the way that made her happy. I don't have an issue with healthy hobbies. I have an issue with obsession, which is the flip side of that pancake (the burnt side that you hide from your daughter, hoping she won't notice because the chocolate chips mask the that a valid mental health analogy?). Fortunately, there's plenty of obsession in Monster Camp and it's readily available on Netflix streaming.

So what's funny about Monster Camp and it's look at Nero?
  • The guy who says they're going to make a "full-sized dragon head" for their Nero weekend. How does he know it's full-sized? I've read How to Train Your Dragon. Those dragons were very small. He should have picked one of those dragons so there was no problem finishing his craft project on time.
  • The guy who plays a dream moth and states that his attack is "the hypnotic glare of the dream moth". This involves opening his jacket in a motion much like a flasher at other characters.
  • The idea that there are "holds" to stop all the live action in order to resolve a dangerous situation. They give us an example, and I quote, "my glasses are right over there!" He could have at least said, my spectacles of optimal vision.
  • Quotes like, "I don't tend to focus on my every day normal life." WOW! No...I mean WOW...World of Warcraft. Because Nero is only once every three months or so. So he has to bleed off the rest of his "normal life" playing a video game. At one point the text accompanying the movie notes that almost everyone in Nero plays WoW. We can be sure I'm safe. I once had an obsession with TeleArena, but that was in the BBS days.
  • Paul, who has lots of pictures on his walls. All of them him in various LARPing situations. I have pictures of me bicycling and geocaching. Usually they're not the focus of our wall art, even in a single room. Although if you're working at it, you can find a picture of me in a clown suit and sitting on the big green teddy bear I used to feed poop.
  • The swords. Sometimes it looks like they're holding giant, pink phalluses (phalli?). It reminds me of the ultimate defense system in Dominion: Tank Police.
  • The affectation many Nero gamers have when talking. It's like they have to have their own accent. Someone I know said it's, "Almost flamboyant gay man." Then later said, "It's role player douche bag accent."
  • The Nero rule book. Over 200 pages. And yet they can't find an NPC that knows Earth magic. THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE A 200 PAGE RULE BOOK AND A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER!
  • Monster and player outfits can be made out of Hot Topic shirts.
  • Monster and player outfits seem to involve an awful lot of white headbands (never explained).
  • Monsters are considered scary when they're wearing a vine boa...not a snake. Like the boa you wear around your neck...with leaves on it. I think that makes you some sort of f*ing gay tree ent.
  • Monster and player outfits pretty much involve a tunic and a hockey mask (when not sporting vine boas).
  • Undead lizards wear headphones so they can stay organized. I don't even use my headphone at work, let alone when playing an undead lizard.
  • One of the highlights of the actual gameplay was running around next to a barn in a state park looking for spider ichor. This would have been cooler had they actually milked a few spiders.
  • The guy whose daughter told him he's spending too much time playing WoW instead of spending time with her. He teared up a little bit, talked about how it was like any other addition such as alcohol, and then related how he was setting up a second computer so she could play next to him. Hey...if your daughter says you're playing the video game too much, stop that s*it and find a different hobby. Almost all of the interview time with him involved him sitting behind a laptop playing WoW.
  • The guy who stated he was in his fifth year as a high school senior. Pooteewheet yelled at the television, "STOP LOOKING LIKE THAT!"
  • Fern. He lives with his mother in Seattle. His mother is a hippy. She said Fern had his hobbies, but at least he hadn't grown up into her hobbies, like kink. Ewwww.... At least he rides a bicycle. Then again, is there anyone in Seattle who doesn't?
  • Swords are called boffers. Hitting someone with your sword is called boffing. This seems to take the place of sex.
  • Passerbys who state of Nero and the participants, "I thought I was looking at Darth Maul. Or Harry Potter." And, "There's nothing like a good dismembering to perk up your Saturday."
  • Quotes like, "FEEL MY POISON!" and "MATT IS DEAD!"
  • The player who asks another player, "Are we dating?" And then says of his real girlfriend, "My interests lie elsewhere with a particular dancer at the ******* ballroom." Could you make it sound any more imaginary or creepy, even if it isn't?
  • The idea that "in game sexual dynamics" can get complicated. Some players date in the game, but not in real life. Or in real life, but not in the game. They take out their breakups on each other within the game. And, they have problems with their dating characters having "different personal values" and take the game issues out on their real lives. That's right...they break up because their characters, the characters they're pretending to be, have opposing values within Nero once every several months.
  • When the individuals running the game change, it has to be sold. Someone pays for the game, rather than just creating a new game and, well, not paying.
  • Pooteewheet stating, "That douchebag in the green reminds me of Klund. I think it's the way he holds his head and, specifically, his mouth....It's the way he's standing!"
  • Resurrection involves a bag with 9 beads of one color, and 1 bead of another color. If you draw the odd bead out, you avoid dying permanently. It would seem like that's where the exercise would end. But instead, you get shipped off to a room, the resurrection chamber, decorated with LED string lights where particular characters chant around you until you come back to life...unless they're mean, in which case it gets ugly. I can't even picture what that involves.
  • If you don't come back in the resurrection chamber, you may come back as a vampire. At this point your friend may cry and talk about how much it hurts, because you shouldn't really be there.
  • And finally, there's the politics. Not the sexual politics. Not the politics of who owns the chapter. Instead, there's the politics of what happens when certain characters band together and cast a spell that changes the race of the last sea elf, ending the sea elves as a race. Another character puts it in perspective: the sea elves are all gone, the economy is going to be hurt, shipping is going to be hurt, it's not safe. The death of the last sea elf is right up there with the housing crisis and international piracy concerns. Stupid Obama. Bring back the sea elves by changing the race of a few humans, and you could eliminate a few pressing issues and focus on healthcare. Maybe the sea elves have special herbs and sea salts and we could fix that issue in the same broad stroke.
So there you go. Perhaps that was too much in the way of spoilers, but there was just so much to enjoy.


AKDOUGLAS1 said...

Hey I'm the co-producer of Monster Camp and if you liked that I bet you'll like my new musical called "Planet Eden: the 2012 Musical" it includes a larper. Check out the music sampler at

May the Brain Sucking Moth guard and protect you always.

Kyle said...

Based on your link to NERO, there's no chapter in MN, the one in IA is looking for owners and the WI NERO chapter is shutting down. I think you should probably license a chapter to meet the needs of the under-served midwestern LARPers eh.

Scooter said...

You're single, Kyle. You do it. I think if you need to really dig into the details, Aaron could give you some pointers and/or contacts.

Anonymous said...

All great observations. My favorite scene from MC:
A character demonstrates how he attaches potions to the back of his shield - you can see an athsma inhaler too.
Secondly, the head honcho is busy playing solitaire during preparation for some campaign. He claims that if he loses again, "someone is gonna die".
Third, about every scene with the 2 guys that live together that haven't finished high school. They seem totally lost and without any ambition - "life just happens for me". A couple shots show them standing next to each other in game, and thier heads turn in near perfect harmony as if they are human meerkats on the lookout.
Honorable mention goes to Mr. Tinkerstouch...did you see him sparring outside with his friend? That is one chaotic swordplay - don't hurt yourself! It looks like a picture of him with an actual girl in a distance-shot of the LARPing photos (mom's interview)...Nahhhh, couldn't be. Sister, maybe?
The scariest scene is of the social worker that doesn't understand staging agression - which has only been the defining characteristics for humans' evolution of society. We are either in battle or practicing to engage in battle. For a long time now. A few friends getting together to have fun LARPing seems harmless as a release.

Anonymous said...

Haha I just watchedthis and u made me laugh. So true, how the hell do they know it's a real size dragon head haahaaa

Unknown said...

Loved your comments, made me laugh, Very Funny and observant. Did anyone else notice at the end, when the guy who sold the chapter was talking about getting "real life," he sitting at the computer playing Call of Duty or something (ironic? or was it just what you expected)...I don't know I maybe would have gone to a cafe or something to film this seen? (just me??)
Also I really wanted to scream at every adult at that those events, who just let those two boys who hadn't finished HS yet just float. It was like come on, you talk about real life, here is your chance, be a real life hero. "Jump on the team and come on in for the big win"