28. Why I’m extremely excited about bringing larp to the Middle East

Larp should be a global phenomenon. There’s nothing that makes it location-specific or location-demanding (like ice hockey or surfboarding). But it isn’t global. At least not yet. We’re going to change that, though, and with a little luck the first stepping stone to bringing larp to the Middle East has just been laid.

In December, Rollespilsakademiet – assisted by tourism expert Paul Bulencea and a team of skilled freelancers – will be doing a month of larps in Abu Dhabi. The project is called Legends of Arabia: Quest of the Pearl Tribes, and will feature 25 larps of up to 500 participants run at the amazing location of Yas Waterworld.

It’s an ambitious venture, and if succesful, will only be the beginning of something grander. That’s the facts. Now for the speculation.

Larp isn’t “Western” in its essence

Today, Europe has many diverse larp scenes, and the US, Canada and Russia also have an abundance of larps. There are few larps in Africa, and while there are larps in Australia and New Zealand, South-East Asia has virtually none. And even though Japan has a huge cosplay scene, its larp scene is more or less non-existent.

In the Middle East, the small, but growing Palestinian larp scene definitely exists and exerts influence, but it would be a lie to call it large. There is also an old and active Israeli scene, but in most of the region, larp is a complete unknown. That’s something we’re hoping to change.

By working with a big local partner, we hope to get reach that’s normally unavailable to larp organisers. Whether we manage to sell all 12,500 tickets or not remains to be seen, but even if we reach just a fraction of that number, we’ll still be introducing a new idea to the UAE.

Who knows where it’ll go from there?

The future is bright with possibility

What if companies pick up on larp as an interesting form of teambuilding and skill training? What if schools in the Emirates realise the educational potential of larps? What if it becomes a smash hit among tourists and locals alike? The truth is that we have no idea how big this can get.

Our partners in the UAE are just as excited as we are. They have a lot of plans for how to reach out to different groups of people and get them interested. Will it work? We’ll find out, I guess.

It will be something of an adventure, even if it doesn’t become the success we’re hoping. And if it actually explodes, and larp waves start spreading in the region?

Then, things will go completely crazy.

And while I try to not plan for things exploding, the last couple of years have taught me that you never know how big things can get.

One thing is definite, though. I’ll be writing more about the project here on the blog. A lot more.

#legendsofarabia has a nice ring to it, after all. ;)