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Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  174 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Exposing a subculture often dismissed as “geeky” by mainstream America, Leaving Mundania is the story of live action role-playing (LARP). A hybrid of games—such as Dungeons & Dragons, historical reenactment, fandom, and good old-fashioned pretend—larp is thriving, and this book explores its multifaceted communities and related phenomena, including the Society for Creative ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Of all the "NPR-worthy" books I read these days (or that is, nonfiction titles with an academic's dedication to precision but with a popular hook to its theme, and thus perfect for a six-minute feature on "Fresh Aire"), Lizzie Stark's Leaving Mundania is perhaps one of the most personally satisfying; becau
...more
Grace
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Author: Lizzie Stark
Title: Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games

Description: Lizzie Stark immerses herself in the world of live action roleplaying (LARP), a subculture that few people know even exists.
Source: netgalley
Writing style: Really engaging. Stark not only describes the LARP scene and interviews players, but actually plays many games herself and relates her own experiences.
Audience: Gamers, geeks, nerds, fans, and anyone interested in any of
...more
Emily
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Stark, Lizzie. Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2012. Paperback. +272 pages. $16.95. Release Date: 1 May 2012.

Full disclosure: I received an advance digital copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Leaving Mundania was one of the more interesting books I've read in a while. Being a geek myself, I'm familiar with live action role-playing games. Many of my friends in college played, and while I never made it to an a
...more
Wicked ♥  (Wickedly Bookish Reviews) aka Bat-Jess
Wickedly Bookish Reviews
http://wickedlybookish.blogspot.com/

Leaving Mundania is a non-fiction, in-depth look into the world of live action role playing and the people who have made it a lifestyle.

If you are a regular on my blog, then you know I am nerdy and proud. Now although I'm an avid gamer, I can't say that I've delved much into the world of LARP. I mean, I have cosplayed at anime conventions, but I don't really consider that to be the same thing. I did play table top RPGs with my high sch
...more
James Swenson
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
The author's sympathetic and appealing account of her initiation to larping (live-action role-playing). Early chapters describe her impressions of the American sword-and-sorcery fantasy worlds that are most likely to be suggested by the word larp, with insightful anecdotes on "bleed" (emotional carry-over between fantasy and reality). I also enjoyed, for example, the commentary on economic inflation in game worlds.

The author takes it as given that (even) other gamers look down on larpers. She in
...more
Lauren
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Leaving Mundania presents a very thorough, well-written and eye-opening portrayal of a subculture that has been maligned and made fun of for years, without being judgmental or preachy. I thought it was a bit dry at times, what with all the descriptions of various rules and the allocation of points and what not, but that just goes to show you just how in depth this book is. My favorite part was the chapter in which the author describes her experiences running a game for the first time. Lizzie Sta ...more
Christian Romer
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I rated the bookly so highly not because it is without flaws, but because it is the best history of LARP we have to date. It is hopelessly parochial with a major focus on US LARP that totally fails to mention the huge UK Fest Larps with thousands of participants or the crucial developments in Freeform in the Australian, Far East, Irish and UK scene though it does cover some strands of Nordic LARP very well.

At times Stark's outsider position (since relinquished) in the book jars but overall a bo
...more
Reverenddave
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
This book suffered from a few of the issues I had with Man of War (notably the need to do something over the top towards the end purely for the sake of having the book to build to something) but it still offered some interesting insights into an interesting subculture.

I found myself particularly enjoying the discussion of the economic issues and inflation in the Knights Realm larp community as a result of the in-game currency not being pegged to anything. Made me want to try larping Alan Greensp
...more
Benni
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Loved the insight into the LARPing community, but there was quite a bit of filler.
John Carter McKnight
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Leaving Mundania is a nice little participant-observer account of live-action roleplay as game and community. Stark immersed herself for three years in larp, from participating in a decades-long-running campaign to pick-up larp at conventions, to running her own game for non-larping friends. It's journalistic - with a bit of pretension to artsiness - rather than academic-ethnographic: sort of NPR-lite in tone and intended audience.

For a very short book, it's comprehensive, covering military and
...more
Tanja
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Before I came across this book on Netgalley, I had no idea what LARP was. I had never even heard of it before. But after reading Leaving Mundania, I want to try it myself. Preferably the kind with prewritten characters (I think I could be at least semi-good at that).

For those of you who don't know (heh, newbs):
LARP - Live Action Role-Play
mundanes, mundies, norms - people such as myself, non-gamers
Mundania - the real world

The writer did a great job researching LARP - she spent three years g
...more
Jeremy Preacher
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: video-game
I was not at all interested in larping, reading about larping, or thinking about larping, but two references to this book within twelve hours made me go pick it up, and I'm glad I did. I wouldn't describe it as an evenhanded piece of reporting - Stark got herself firmly embedded in the larp scene for a couple of years while doing the research, and admits up front that she kind of lost her objectivity - but it's an in-depth look at the American larp scene, with a particularly fascinating addition ...more
Darcysmom
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lizzie Stark wrote a fair and insightful account of her trip into the world of LARP. She embraced the quirkiness of the people around her and was not condescending - even when their actions would have been very easy to poke fun of.

I really enjoyed how willing Ms. Stark was to involve herself fully in the LARP experience. Being a player, not just an observer gave her a richer point of view. I particularly enjoyed her nordic experience - the idea of using LARP to transcend the ordinary was quite w
...more
M.A. Brotherton
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
As a LARPer, I went into reading this book half expecting to find a mockary of the hobby. What I found suprised me. I've been out of the game for awhile, and Leaving Mundania reminded me of why I loved LARP.

Lizzie Stark is a journalist, and she covers LARP as a journalist, but she uncovered some wonderful things. The amount of information she shared is just awesome, considering how quickly I was able to read the book.

I reccomend Leaving Mundania for LARPers, especially those thinking about run
...more
Emmaj
May 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: skimmed
This was an interesting series of profiles. The author uses in depth stories of a specific player (how they got involved, what they do for work, what their relationships are like) to illustrate a point about larps.
I'm not sure this subject had enough meat to make a whole book. Mostly I'm left with the impression that the author is saying, "larps are fun. Give them a good try. The players are not weirdos. Someone just like you plays them already. "
Ron
Jun 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Lizzie Stark takes a couple of years to embrace her "geek" side and immerse herself in live-action role-playing (LARP) games such as Knights Realm, Deadlands, etc. She interviews players, GM's and provides her take on the games she played. Interestingly, she has a chapter on the military's use of role-playing in preparing soldiers for overseas deployments.
Katie
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because I think the idea of larping is really fascinating, but in no way could/would I participate in it. I admire people with such imagination and ability to keep a straight face. I found the political aspects of this most interesting. People aren't perfect, even while pretending, and I like the author's exploration of that.
Dave
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
No book about Larp could be exhaustive, but Lizzie Stark does a fine job of giving us the whirlwind tour. She covers both American and Nordic traditions, and speaks to the "IRL" effects of Larping, and how "bleed" can work both ways. A refreshing look at the hobby that, for a change, does not paint gamers as degenerates, sociopaths, or basement dwelling outcasts.
Ron Russell
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book!! One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. Lizzie Stark is a tremendous writer who explores a subject that many believe is only the refuge of nerds and geeks. She shines a light on LARP, and the role-playing hobby in general, with elegance, and possesses a keen sense of the psychological and emotional value that is a central part of the allure of RPGs.
Mrklingon
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting world - not one I'm joining anytime soon.

Stark provides a wide range of anecdotes and accounts (as well as her own forays) into the world of live action role playing. While I'm clearly a SF fan, to the extent of making up tools for alien language... but so far, this isn't something that appeals to me.
Kate
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Written with great humor and a deft and sympathetic touch, this book is a marvelous and insightful look into a fragment of our culture that is rarely explored by those of us on the outside. Highly recommended!
Rebecca
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
As an American Larper myself, I wanted to read this and see her perspective and incite into the world of live action roleplay. And she did an excellent job! I will definitely share this book with my friends and relatives who don't quite understand why I do what I do.
Joe
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I've always looked down on "larpers" but this book actually made it seem pretty interesting. There were a few slow parts talking about the origins of larp, but the first hand accounts the author had performing in the games were interesting to read.
Leila
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had no idea about the extent of LARP (Live Action Role Playing Games). Very interesting, although I found it difficult to understand what actually happens in some of the games. I may have to find out in person!
Rachel
Nov 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2015
My God, this book is in dire need of an editor's pen. I wanted to know more about gaming and role-playing as an outsider. What I got was a jumbled stream-of-consciousness trying to be a reporter's point of view but ending up sounding like a drunken toddler's backseat rant. I tried-- I really did.
Jessie B.
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very sympathetic look at the LARP scene in both the US and Scandinavia. This is an excellent introduction and explanation of LARP for non Larpers but despite having larpers for more than ten years, I learned a lot about the hobby from this book.
Geri Hoekzema
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't think I'll take up LARPing anytime soon (I already have too many expensive hobbies) but it was fascinating to read about this fast-growing subculture. From now on, I'll be on the lookout for covert elves & orcs. ...more
Craig
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book SO much more than I thought I would! I larp semi-frequently, but it was amazing to see names of people that I know in this! So much fun for larpers, and so informative for the non-larpers in your life!! <3
...more
Tegan
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, non-fiction
Interesting but not engagingly written discussion of LARPing.
Beau
Sep 02, 2012 added it
Great book, a fun look at larping. It takes the gameplay seriously and explains things without talking down to the reader.
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Lizzie Stark is the author of the forthcoming Pandora's DNA , which combines the history and science of the so-called breast cancer genes with personal memoir and family research. Her first book, Leaving Mundania, is a narrative nonfiction account of the hobby of larp.

Lizzie holds a masters' degree in journalism from Columbia University and one in in fiction writing from Emerson College. H
...more

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