In and of itself, I have no problems with Player vs Player in games. The idea of a “We Vs They” or “Everyone For Themselves” in games is certainly not new. Competitive games encourages sportsmanship, promotes teamwork, and can promote self-confidence, especially in physical sports.
When you enter into one of these games, you understand ahead of time what the rules are and the expectation that there are two or more teams competing against one another. The same goes for games such as League of Legends or Call of Duty (if you play it online) where it’s clear you’re going to be an a PvP situation.
Table Top RPGs and LARPs, however, do not have these built into their systems. There’s no PvP-only zones in a larp, and nothing saying you cannot attack or kill other players that are playing around you. This causes a problem with those that simply want to enjoy their LARP or Table-Top experience as presented to them by their Game Masters.
This is especially problematic when a person wants to play one of these games with the intention of doing a lot of Player vs Player. A person who does this is essentially saying “I’m going to have fun at someone else’s expense.” It shows a lack of empathy for other players, many of which bring the game world more to life with their character’s actions.
I personally find non-consentual PvP to be abhorrent. At best, it’s just rude. At its worst, it can completely ruin an event or evening for a player. I’ve seen many new players driven off from LARPing because of someone that simply wants to steal and kill everyone just because that’s how they get their jollies.
So, what to do? In the case of Table-Top RPGs, it should be discussed between the players and the Game Master as to what level of PvP is acceptable among the group. Once that is established, you can then move forward with the game with those parameters, and everyone will be comfortable playing at that setting.
For LARPs, it gets a bit trickier. LARPs are not as small or intimate as a D&D group. As a result, not everyone at a LARPing event will be familiar with one another’s comfort or views regarding PvP. Some, as I stated earlier, come in specifically to take out other players for fun.
A great technique I’ve learned from Elegy is the idea of talking to another player Out Of Game about the PvP you’d like to engage in. If they say no, then don’t do it. But if they do agree to it, with or without conditions, it’s all good! Why? Because now there’s consent involved.
A lot of great story can be developed and carried out between players that do this, and it can make an event even more immersive and exciting for everyone involved. In addition, because everyone involved consented to it, there’s no hard feelings at all, and everyone can still leave the game happy.
So talk to people you want to engage PvP with. No one will regret it, and it leaves your LARP or RPG game a better and more welcoming place.
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