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People should Belegarth more

Cody Finney / The Arbiter

The idea of making your own foam Claymore and taking wild swings at other people in the park while dressed as some nobleman decked-out in colorful tunics and chainmail might seem silly to many, but how much more silly is it than a Civil War reenactment?
The idea of a Civil War reenactment frankly seems sort of morbid and it is odd anyone would ever want to revive memories of what is regarded as one of the country’s more bloody historical periods.  However we do it anyway because it’s fun and there is historical value to it.
Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) is basically the same. It’s like a renaissance faire except you get to beat on each other.
I don’t see why there isn’t more of this type of activity.
Why don’t history classes get extra credit for dressing up like the armies of the crusades and going toe-to-toe with each other? Extra points if you can get your shields historically accurate.
Perhaps it is because a stigma exists that if you play Dungeons and Dragons or any sort of game dealing with made up monsters which are cataloged alphabetically in a book called the Monster Manual then you are a serious geek and unfit to be in a romantic relationship—but this is just not the case.
This live action role-play business seems like it could be an outstanding team-building exercise.
From a business perspective there doesn’t seem like any employee bonding experience more meaningful than helping your friends from the accounting department defeat the wicked horde in marketing. Alternatively it seems like it could develop good spirited competition.
In the same way paintball is like a mock battle using balls of paint rather than bullets, Belegarth offers you a chance to hit your friends with swords without injury.
NPR’s Rob Sachs visited a large D-Day reenactment near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania where participants meet annually to reenact the storming of Normandy Beach in 1944. While the event is as historically accurate as the participants can make it, the mock battle is still a game where the winner is not predetermined by history.
Armed with paintball guns, military fatigues and a field dressed up as Normandy beach, the D-Day battle in Pennsylvania is a big deal for the participants.
Nicky Angel Valor, acting general of the allied forces said, “this is our Super Bowl.”
Does reenacting a battle with paintball guns and army helmets have any more or less merit to it than a battle played out with foam swords and chainmail?
There’s a lot of room for creativity. Sewing your own robes to wear to battle, or even just to watch could be a lot of fun like Halloween all year round. It probably takes quite a bit of imagination to put that sort of thing together and maybe some historical knowledge.
Let’s face it, we have all been to a boring history lecture.  It is just a sad reality that learning about human past from the black and white text of a book is not particularly stimulating.
Portland State University offered a renaissance history class where students had the opportunity to examine period books which were ornately decorated and beautifully crafted. It was then that the appreciation for the past really set in.
The renaissance books were a tangible piece of history from the time period being taught in the classroom. Not every professor has access to a library of sixteenth century literature. But every professor has access to a Home Depot and their imagination.
Imagine how ancient Greek history would come to life when everyone met for class in the park and reenacted the great battles of the Trojans and Alexander the great.
Then again, there is something to be said about the willingness to just dress up as a knight and go play outside. Sometimes it’s easy to just go home, switch on the Playstation and enjoy some stunning graphics while helping Batman beat the crap out of some unsuspecting thugs. While this Belegarth business seems to have slipped by the eye of the general public, it, like history is going nowhere and will always be open to new players.

Click here to see Belegarth in action.

About Zachary Chastaine (0 Articles)
Zachary studies English technical writing at Boise State and previously wrote for the Portland State Vanguard. An enthusiast of downhill mountain biking, craft beers and automotive racing Zach hopes to continue his writing studies overseas at Oxford Brookes.