I used to play a character named FOX, an anthropomorphic fae of cunning and trickery in a SoCal LARP called Dying Kingdoms, and my character was very.... enthusiastic and animated...
Many people said to me that they loved my character but I felt like actual quality interaction with other characters was so rare. Our conversations were shallow and people rarely trusted me or would talk to me about their stories or mine. I had some big guns at my disposal as far as in game resources were concerned but I actually rarely used them. Rarely did anyone actually ask for my help and I often felt like more of a joke than an actual companion to the other characters.
I often clung to my best friend Asrai, and really just joined her stories more than anything else. I often felt like I had to be always ON and in character as this weird animated personality I had given myself in order to feel like I could play the game and get people to notice/interact with me. It was so exhausting that I would take long breaks from being in character to either decompress or to go on extra NPC shifts. I would even leave game to go cry in the car for awhile when it was too much. I got so used to that as the norm that to this day I still often take extra NPC shifts at games because I'll need an escape from trying to be in character.
I think there are some tricks people can use to help get more involved at game. They're things I know well as a storyteller, but don't always use myself when playing even when I should. I'm still working on getting better at it, but I wanted to share them with you.
Inquire and Interact - One of the oldest tricks in the book for getting people to like your character is to ask them about their character's story. Almost everyone has a long detailed backstory, and just like you, they're feeling awkward and just waiting for the opportunity to share it somehow.
Ask them where they're from, what they're doing here, what they want to be or achieve, etc. Be forward and curious and get them talking about themselves. The more you know about them the better. You don't always have to be best friends because of it. Even enemies want to know what the other is about! But asking these questions and getting involved with other characters gets you on their A list for people to interact with and they'll (normally) in turn want to learn more about you as well.
Often when I worry that no one is noticing me I have to stop and say "How many characters here do I know really well? How can I find out more, and what's an excuse to interact with them?" This helps put me on a mission and leave my nervous self-conscious nature behind so I can break away from myself and continue my journey as someone else.
The second thing I would say about that is to USE what you LEARN. Are they planning to work against another organization in the game? Are you for that idea or against it? Then take action and make their story part of yours as well! Do they want to find the holy grail? Are you for that idea or against it? Then take action and make their story part of yours as well. Rinse and Repeat.
Join a Squad - One of the best things I've ever done to get more involved and have people care about me is by finding the person who is either the most popular or the most active in the story (or is someone that leads a group I want to interact with) and saying "This is who I am and what I can do. How can I help?"
One friend of mine that used to play vampire games would advise people to go to the prince and find a reason to offer them a life boon. When he would say that people would reply "WHAT?!?! Why would I hand over my LIFE to someone for no reason? Wouldn't that make my character more vulnerable?" YES! The answer is simple. When you owe the biggest debt to the most important person in a group, they will now consider you a part of their team. Period. They will make use of you, trust you to help them on their goals, and get you involved with the story on their behalf.
You could even do this with your enemies! Seek out someone that plays a character that you DON'T LIKE in character but you DO get along with the player. Reach out to them out of character and say "I'd like to stage a scene where X happens to cause conflict between our characters because I think it would be fun for the story". Then build on that idea together and play it out. Suddenly by making your character more vulnerable or set as an opposition to someone who cares about your character's goals (even as an enemy) you become critical to their story as well and they will be talking and interacting with you! They will be desperate to know everything about you. Now your game of cat and mouse will keep you so busy and entertained you won't even have time for anything else. You can make allies with their enemies or seek out their allies for more interesting consensual conflict in game!
At the last DK game I attended I was having a hard time getting involved and I was feeling like no one really cared I was there. I went to my friend Adam and literally said to his character "This is who I am and what I can do. I want to be involved with what you're doing". Then, even though his clan is very anti-Skjanos (viking race I play as), I was suddenly invited to eat with their group, contacted by several new characters who my character had never had a reason to talk to, got called upon throughout the event to solve problems, and often heard my name said in conversation along with the words "Talk to him, and see if he can help you."
It seems counter-intuitive to make yourself vulnerable and to ask to be involved, but it can be so rewarding when you do.
Change it if it isn't working - Sometimes when I'm really struggling at a game, I'll try to work backwards from someone else's point of view. I'll say to myself "Why would people reach out to me, want to interact with me, or care about my story or goals?" I try to see it from their perspective and be a little critical of any opportunities I'm giving to let others approach and interact with me. That can be a scary question to ask yourself, because being critical of yourself can easily become depressing or unmotivating. But if you can seriously think about those questions, you might be able to try to find ways to fix any barriers you're unknowingly presenting to others.
If you think that something about you is interesting and people should be asking you about it, then work on making it more known. If you think you have a talent or resource that people can use, then make sure EVERYONE knows that you have it and that you're looking to put it to use. And if all else fails and you find there's something about your character that isn't working, just change it! At most games staff is there to help with that. They want you to have fun, and if you're honest about something that isn't working they will help you fix it.
Finally I would say that, for me personally, I've found that some people just don't want to interact with me no matter what character I'm playing. Just like if I was trying to ask someone out and I found out they're just not into me, I shouldn't keep pushing to make them like me more or change myself just to make them happy. The same goes for friendships and roleplaying opportunities at games. If you put yourself out there and someone specific doesn't respond no matter what you do, try interacting with different people at the event. I've had times where I've liked and enjoyed interacting with some people far more than they liked or enjoyed interacting with me. I thought we'd really click, and it turned out I was VERY wrong. But that's okay! I don't need to beat myself up trying to make someone want to hang out with me. I've found instead, that with the right people, I'm always gonna be treated like family. Those are the people you want to seek out at game. And they go beyond your current friend group too. I promise you there are amazing people who are desperate to find a friend like you, they just haven't gotten to know you yet. So keep putting yourself out there and remember you can be awesome and people really do like you, even if some people don't always show it very well.
These are my tricks for making friends and getting people to interact with my character more at LARP events. What are some tricks that you use? What have you struggled with and how have you managed to overcome those challenges? Let us know in the comments below.