|Labor Wars Reflection
||[Jun. 21st, 2010|11:24 am]
This past weekend I played in Labor Wars. I don't usually play weekend-long LARPs, partially because they are tiring, but mostly because I have a hard time emotionally separating myself from my character afterwards. Labor Wars was not an exception to this. I had a good time, and am very glad I played, but I woke up this morning with echoes of the game battering the inside of my head.
I was playing Phoebe, the teenage daughter of the senator who was hosting the talks, a character who bears a striking resemblance to my mother. Both of them were the youngest child of five in a wealthy and traditional Texas family, and both had lesbian and socialist tendencies. My character was madly in love with a young labor leader who appeared male, but was in fact a woman in disguise to get ahead. She fully expected her parents to disapprove of this romance, even without knowing about the whole woman-in-disguise bit, though that turned out to be unwarranted, but I was nonetheless reminded of my mother being disowned by her parents when she came out as gay.
The other main character trait my character had was a fierce empathy for the struggles of labor. I could have played the character with a hefty dose of speaking truth to power, and I'm not quite sure why I didn't. Now there weren't as many opportunities for loud proclamations of principles as there might have been since the labor leaders basically managed to get what they wanted early in the game. However, I think I also fell into the diagetic expectation that as a young woman, and not part of the talks, I should be look pretty and not talk to much. And perhaps, I also fell into my own tendency to shut up around people I perceive as having more power than me. I wonder if being more outspoken could have created greater drama.
I was raised in a household that really saw the labor leaders of the early 1900's (and escaped slave, and revolutionaries) as heroes, and role models that I could never live up to. I went into this game hoping for some catharsis about that, and I really didn't get it. I hoped to get to fight the good fight and see that being on the "right" side didn't make my character a good person. I think I could have played Phoebe that way. Instead, I found myself in an interpretation of character that felt as powerless as the parents who created that household. I wish I hadn't interpreted my character that way.
Or perhaps relief from feeling like fighting social injustice all the time is only way to be a good person is too much to ask for from a game.