Some might argue that this year, 2016, we’ve stepped into our very own dystopian world. But in case you want to escape reality and enter an alternative dystopian world, here are my top five films for providing inspiration for dystopian LARP worlds and characters. Of course this is just my list – so if you’ve got different suggestions let me know!
The Matrix Trilogy
The Matrix* was one of those formative films in my teenage years. It taught me to doubt the government, to distrust law enforcement agencies, and that everyone in a dystopian future would wear great outfits. You might notice that ‘great outfits’ is a theme of any post that I make about movies – but I digress.
I was discussing with a friend recently how much fun it would be to photograph a LARP that has two distinct looks and a dystopian future based loosely on the Matrix could provide that. One world where you project yourself as the way you think you should be seen, and another where you are the ‘real you’. Plus of course: spaceships, terrifying squid-robots, and hacking would all be fun to put in a game too.
What could be more terrifying in an alternative reality than a law-enforcement organisation that can read your mind from a distance and arrest you based on things you might do in the future? I’ve got to be honest – I’m fairly sure I’d have been in prison several times over in this world with the amount of bad thoughts I have every day about people who annoy me. I’m glad that the real world is nothing like Minority Report.*
I’m not sure how you could translate this into LARP. I guess you could take it down the road of all-powerful law enforcement who couldn’t be questioned or challenged, which is a pretty terrifying prospect in itself. Or you could let the players play as a group of pre-crime investigators who have to solve crimes based on visions?
When seeing this film all the way back in 2002 I was struck by the visuals of the PreCogs floating in their serene blue pool – won’t somebody find a way to squeeze this kind of intensely stylised look into a LARP?
Children of Men
Mankind has lost the ability to procreate and civilisation is on the brink of collapse. Britain is the only country left with civilised rule – and everyone wants to get in. The camps are full of immigrants. Xenophobia is rife. And yet… somebody wants to get out. Don’t watch Children of Men* if you’re already sad – that’s my top tip.
You could theme an entire LARP around the idea of ‘The Human Project’, the major humanitarian organisation within this film. A group of people trying to save humanity. Alternatively you could take your players on a trip to the slum camps, with soldiers watching over them and the constant fear of intimidation and attack by games.
There’s so much in Hunger Games* that could be used as a focus for creating LARP worlds and characters. The system of Capitol and Districts, the Peacekeepers, the uprising, the arena (also check out the very bloody Battle Royale from ten years earlier), the media circus (wait – isn’t that ReGenesis LARP?), and of course the outfits (oh Alexander McQueen – if you had been around long enough to see this…).
It could even be interesting to play the social elite who take trips to the districts. ‘Humanitarian’ efforts perhaps? Each district has such a distinct flavour I think you could have quite good fun physrepping the sites and the set dressing.
I’ll let you into a secret – I’ve never seen Blade Runner* all the way through, but I love the way it looks with that high tech and low life aesthetic. The movie is beautiful without a doubt, and if I could choose my flavour of dystopian future I’m fairly sure it would look like this.
The costumes are one of the things that really work for me in this film. The slight cowboyish look, the high fashion meets sci-fi edges, and oh man – those shoulder pads. I was born too late for shoulder pads really, but I’d love to use them sometime in a LARP costume.
But less about me – what do you guys think? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments…