Editor's Note: Guest blogger Rev. M. Vernon Hunt is a writer and rabble-rouser currently residing in the untamed wilds of north-central Ohio. He cut his teeth writing for several online role-playing groups for ten years, and credits the experience for helping him hone his talents and gain confidence in his work. Outside of writing, he is a dedicated Whovian and avid consumer of all things horror.
Geekery is in fashion right now, what with big-budget comic book movies dominating the cinemas of the nation and fantasy epics like Game of Thrones capturing the public consciousness. We have entire television networks devoted to video games. Cosplayers become memes. Most people even know now that dice can have more than six sides.
Being a geek is cool, and everyone wants to be one.
However, even in this era of geek chic there are certain subcultures within the geek community who remain maligned and misunderstood. Role-playing gamers, and particularly live-action role-playing (LARP) enthusiasts, are often consigned to being the butts of jokes told by non-geeks, and even fellow geeks.
This truth was thrust into the spotlight this month with the revelation that Florida congressional candidate Jake Rush, a Republican running as a "straight shooter within the law enforcement and legal communities," is himself a LARPer.
Headlines referring to his "bizarre double life" as a "sexy vampire" were de rigeur throughout the media reporting on the story. Rush is affiliated with a group called Mind's Eye Society, a gaming and charitable organization devoted to games from White Wolf Publishing, specifically their World of Darkness collection.
World of Darkness is a collection of role-playing games featuring vampires, werewolves, mages, fairies, and other assorted mythological creatures, in modern and historical settings. Though it is primarily a table-top gaming system, it is also known for an extensive and enthusiastic sub-culture of LARP fans.
In LARP, players dress as their characters, use props and real-world settings, and employ acting and other theatrics to enhance their gaming experience. To that end, a typical LARP session for a World of Darkness game will typically feature players clad in leather and lace, corpse paint and corsets, and a plethora of other looks with a distinct gothic/industrial/fantasy bent.
Knowing this, the pictures making the rounds (above) showing Rush dolled up in black leather and novelty contact lenses as one of his characters, Chazz Darling, wouldn't be terribly shocking to the average person. The amusement appears to stem solely from the fact that Rush is a GOP candidate and a self-proclaimed "practicing Christian."
Numerous commentators have accused Rush of hypocrisy, as though either his political or religious beliefs somehow preclude him from enjoying LARP games, vampires, leather, or... something. This is a patently nonsensical line of reasoning, to put it bluntly.