An Open Letter to ESPN – Thank You

To the Fine Marketing Minds at ESPN:

Thank you for your recent commercial featuring LARP. I want to talk about why it was so great, and how happy I am to see you’ve featured it.

In your commercial, a regiment of fantasy-clad LARPers stand in a line wielding boffer weapons. The king, dressed in armor and furs, walks down the line and spots one of the soldiers with a sword whose cover is falling off. The king, who is apparently also a safety marshal (as many veteran players are), notices this and tells him that it is not suitable for play in its condition by declaring “You cannot go into battle without the proper weapon.” Good on you, king-guy! Keeping people safe. Especially good since the person with the defective weapon, Steve, appears to be a new player (you can tell from his football-gear armor).

This is literally thousands of dollars of gear in one picture

Before I move on, can we talk about the garb here? I mean seriously, look at the detail in the king’s garb. He looks like he dropped a sack of cash at Dark Knight Armoury, and I am super jealous. Look at the detail in that crown; look at the detail in that fur. As a LARPer I am seriously drooling over that garb and armor. These are some serious LARPers who have really gone all out for authenticity. I want it so bad.

Anyways, I digress.

“MALACHI!” The king shouts, and his squire appears in a moment’s notice (And look at his helmet, man. And the chainmail. Hhhhhnnngggg I want it). Retaining complete immersion, the king demands that Brother Malachi get a suitable replacement boffer for the new guy from his car. Malachi agrees and then runs to his car while his boffer flail hangs over his shoulder.

God, I wish Darkon check-in lines were half this interesting in real life.

We call this a Target-Rich Environment

And just like any LARP, these LARPers immediately jump in to help their new player and loan him a weapon. Why? because being new and having a shoddy weapon shouldn’t stop you from having a good time. I remeber my first boffer game and I brought my own sword. It failed check-in and like six people offered to loan me theirs. That’s how LARP friendships start, man!

ESPN, you have clearly done a great deal of research here. You’ve displayed the LARP tenets of Safety, Immersion, and Costuming*, which are all important in any LARP setting. In just two lines, you’ve basically explained field marshalling, character, equipment and armor, and showed how helpful and welcoming the LARP community can be. We were all Steve once, and the world of LARP was unfamiliar, scary, and a little ridiculous. That’s how most communities are.

Finally, ESPN, you have shown how active LARP is! In the final shot, we can see the LARPers going at each other with energy and ferocity. Most people don’t realize how much energy and activity can be required! +1 for realism.

It’s too bad Steve got tired out so easily, though, since in the next scene he’s relaxing by his car and playing on his ipad with whatever game you’re advertising. He must have really went at it with all his energy! But we can see the other LARPers in the background, so he still hasn’t left the game site. I bet once he’s done with a round or two on his fantasy football game, he’ll jump right back into the fight. You go, Steve. You go. I’ll see you on the field. Stay hydrated!

ESPN, please let us know when you will start covering “Bad Fantasy” as a sport. I will definitely tune in to see it.

Sincerely Yours,

Sam, the Part-Time Rogue

* Required


Editor’s note: After many requests, we are linking the ad here, but not to ESPN directly. Here is the ad in question: [link]

Part Time Rogue
About Part Time Rogue 83 Articles
Sam Swicegood is a freelance writer, marketing consultant, and actor based in Cincinnati, OH. He has been LARPing for over a decade. He is the author of Sci-fi RPG Cold Start, due out in 2018.

4 Comments on An Open Letter to ESPN – Thank You

  1. This is a wonderful article. What a wonderful response to a weird commercial You didn’t respond with hate or a freak-out, but took the moment to highlight what’s awesome about your hobby. Thanks for sharing it. Made my morning!

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