Ong's Hat - The Original LARP

in larp •  last year

The acronym "LARP" (Live Action Role Playing) has taken on a new meaning in the past year or two. It used to mean geeks who wore costumes and physically acted out the moves in a game usually involving dice, cards, or some combination of both. Now it means pretending to be a secret government leaker with extra juicy top-secret information that one can't just come out and say directly. It's basically a very sophisticated form of trolling in which the goal is to stir up as much discussion as possible. It's a heck of a lot of fun.

LARPing in the above sense is all the rage, these days. A good LARP contains elements of science, conspiracy, time and space travel, technological riddles and -- above all -- is delivered in a way that just makes it all seem true, despite how insane it sounds when you spell it out.

One of my favorite LARPs was John Titor from the late-90s and into the early 2000s. John Titor showed up in a Yahoo! message board (or maybe it was a chat room or IRC channel. Eventually it turned into its own cheesy website. I think there was a documentary or something too. Anyway, that one kept me enthralled for a couple of years. He actually predicted a couple of things that turned out to be true, such as the first black president in 2008. Nobody saw that one coming in 2000. Anyway, it was a well told story, wild yet eerily ringing true.

The Internet has seen many, many such LARPs over the decades. The great ones live on and on and take on a whole new character over time. I've been enjoying the latest LARPs on 4Chan, after filtering out the knuckle-dragging racists and "shills." It's interesting stuff to read and does sort of ring true from time to time. It's interesting how massive these LARPs become these days. In the past, only a select group of people got in on the "joke," but now it seems like everyone is at least aware of the latest LARP on some level. They bleed into Facebook and Twitter despite attempts at censorship which ultimately just add to the mystique of the LARP, (ie, "Why would they censor it if it weren't true, dude!")

As far as I can tell, the very first LARP in the current sense of the word was Ong's Hat.

Here's what Wikipedia gives you (not much) about Ong's Hat. (Follow the second link and reconstruct the old website for a trip down the rabbit hole of Internet history.)

In sum...

Creating legends on the Internet by mixing a healthy dose of quantum physics with a bit of credible-seeming authority is fun! Ong's Hat lives to this day. John Titor actually did make some pretty mind-blowingly correct predictions. The 4chan Q guy really gets you thinking. It's all fun and games though.

ONGS HAT VIDEO

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