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The Play’s The Thing – Bringing Gaming to Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade

The Play’s The Thing – Bringing Gaming to Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade

Mention Labyrinth of Jareth to anyone who knows about it and they’ll tell you the same thing- “it’s good for people watching.” And they are absolutely right. It’s an evening that brings together costumers, performers, and fans from miles around,to grace the ballroom floor in spectacular outfits that reach into the far flung corners of the world of fantasy. However, this is not why you go to ball.

Cinderella didn’t circumnavigate the law of conservation of mass just to hang around a punch bowl. And yet, there’s something intimidating about finding yourself surrounded by stunning beauty and elbow-rubbing with royalty. Ryan Omega, this year’s games master of the masquerade, sheepishly admitted to never going. But it wasn’t until he dove into the heart of Labyrinth — filled with stories, bigger than life characters, and intrigue around every corner — that he began to understand how to bring patrons out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Ryan- when he’s not running around as the Viscount of Sypher- managed to create a game that runs throughout the event. It pulls patrons into the mystery, and may be one of the most ingenious ways to bring those on the outside into the story. When role-playing meets fantasy, anyone can stand toe-to-toe with royalty.

Listening to Ryan talk about the game elements he infused into the event, along with his personal experience with LARPing, it’s easy to see how such an idea bloomed in just a short time. But even he admits that “we didn’t know if this would work.”

Clearner Edits LOJ ERZEN (23)
Image Source: Brian Erzen/LoJ

Everyone plays a role at the Labyrinth of Jareth. From the dance choreographer to the costumer, walking over the threshold of the event means that you become that character for the entire time that you’re there. Ryan recalls a time he needed to pay a vendor while dressed in pajamas. “I walked through the hallways yawning the whole time. People would yell out, ‘Viscount, get some rest.'” Though this kind of interaction remains superficial, and doesn’t pull people into the dozen or so stories dancing around them. And that’s why Ryan opened up a post office.

Through rain or shine or dark of knight, the post office delivers messages between members of the court during the ball. Visitors act as messengers, finding themselves on missions to move letters between people of interest. Once you find your person of note, the patron then reads the message out loud for everyone to hear. Having fulfilled their duty, patrons rush back to the post office to turn in their mission and collect their reward — most of the time.

Sometimes, the mission continues. Remember, no one on the court can directly send a message to another person without another player getting involved. And sometimes, you’ll need to take down the next message by hand. Perhaps, it will be a returning sign of affection to another member of the court, or a cutting remark that you’ll need to personally decree to everyone around them. And sometimes — well, why don’t you tell me? You’re the one with the pen, only inches away from the paper, listening to what the member of the court is saying, but maybe you have a better idea of what should be delivered next. Ryan manages to give just enough power to those outside the game to bring them in and let those who sit on the sidelines the power to change the fate of the story.

Will she break off the engagement?
Will he end this bitter feud once and for all?
Will the letter actually contain something even more dangerous – like the truth?

Clearner Edits LOJ ERZEN (57)
Image Source: Brian Erzen/LoJ
Ryan explains that “games are fantasy disguised as strategy.” By playing a game, you take on the persona of that character even through simple tasks such as delivering a message. No matter who you are or what you’re wearing, you step into the world of Labyrinth as soon as you take that letter.  You have a mission to find the person in question and read them the message. But let’s not mistake simple with easy. Walking across the floor of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel to a member of the court (who will surely be surrounded by adoring fans) and reading aloud a letter with mysterious contents would surely make anyone sweat a little. The prize is not the ribbon you receive after accomplishing your task, but something far greater, the experience in being a part of a much grander story.
Is it all worth it? Ryan thinks so. He recalls a woman last year in a wheelchair handing him a message. She bowed so low that he thought that he would have to catch her. They exchanged words and he thanked her for the note. Later in the evening, her daughter thanked him, saying it was the first time anyone had noticed her at the ball. Simple interaction is sometimes all anyone needs to move from out of the shadows and into the spotlight.Before ending, Ryan gave me this following bit of advice for anyone hesitating to attend the ball. “Yes, you are good enough, and you have permission to be, as fantastical as you can be.” When you feel yourself lost in the shadows of the event, think about Ryan’s words and head over to the post office. There’s a letter and a story waiting for you there.
Feature Image Source: Labyrinth of Jareth Press


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