I drafted this a few months ago when I was trying to brainstorm this blog because so many of my friends have glasses woes. This is not meant to be the authority on glasses at larp, just my own experience, and I am happy to update if anyone has input!
Larping for Glasses Wearers!
As someone who wears glasses, weighing the pros and cons of wearing them at game can be daunting, I have heard all the arguments that wearing glasses at a combat game is unsafe, might break immersion if the game setting is not one where glasses are common, they are too expensive to bring to a game where one might lose them, etc…
While there are elements of truth to all of this, I have found that there are many ways to be able to attend a LARP and still be able to see!
The safety argument:
I have terrible vision, if I remove my glasses the text on this screen turns to a gray blur. When I first started LARP I tried to pretend I didn’t need them, and I hid my glasses in a pouch and didn’t wear them until nighttime when “nobody could see them” I was predictably terrible in combat and tripped all the time. I think it’s very unsafe to skip them if you need them. I do not recommend the just not wearing them method unless your eyes are really not all that bad.
In terms of losing them, sure, that’s a risk, but I have only ever once had them fly off my head while turning around too fast in a fight. I know some people wear pretty discreet bands around the back that hold them on, the kind that you wear swimming. I also find that if I keep an eyeglasses kit around and regularly tighten the screws on the arms that they stay on very effectively.
Getting hit in the face is another argument, and this really depends on the game. Many games do not allow headshots, and if you do get thwapped in the head it’s going to be an accidental wild swing that has a risk of hurting you, glasses or not. I actually find glasses to be a safety boon sometimes for games where we are firing nerf darts, arrows, or packets, because I know I am not likely to get poked in the eye where folks who don’t have glasses have taken some pretty nice rubber to the eyeball shots. In games that do allow headshots, I suspect one might have to wear some sort of safety gear, but I have no experience with this so I will defer to those who do. (I would love to be able to edit this if anyone has opinions on glasses in full contact combat!)
Expense, and Immersion:
My advice for these concerns absolutely runs the risk of sounding like an advertisement. The glasses racket has been very effective at making us view our 300 dollar objects as possessions to be carefully guarded. A couple years ago I was introduced to a website called Zenni Optical which sells glasses at amazing rates. This is achieved by the fact that you don’t have a LensCrafters employee breathing down your neck forcing you to add on every special coating known to man. I can go to this website, pick out a pair of unobtrusive plain metal frames, (some as low as $7) plug in a prescription, pick out the no-frills lenses, and boom, a spare set of glasses for LARP. The most expensive set of glasses I have purchased from them was around $40 because I picked out very fancy gold tortoiseshell frames. (The cat eye ones in my profile picture!)
This has allowed me to have a number of spare glasses for games that I have no fear of breaking, but also, to get glasses that match my costumes or fit the setting better. I can wear plain metal frames for period games where plastic modern glasses might look odd, cool 50’s glasses for a Fallout setting, those tinted round glasses for a steampunk wizard, there are many great options for making your glasses a cohesive part of your kit and not a thing you need to fret about hiding. As an NPC the website was extremely valuable because I was able to get different pairs for named characters so that they had an even more immersively different look than each other.
And then the Mask issue:
Otherwise known as the bane of Larpers with Glasses. I am still struggling with this one, unfortunately. It had not come up in some time, as I had not been a staffer/crunchy in a while, but I was recently at a very mask intensive game and I was flailing about a little helpless. Soft latex masks can awkwardly fit over smaller glasses, but hard masks are a problem. (And then again, latex masks are a pretty common allergy…)
Over the summer I attended a masquerade ball, and I did a lot of experimentation with building a mask onto a cheap pair of glasses. This worked out fairly well, but it did commit the glasses into the mask forever as I glued it on and painted/decorated around it. It was a fun project, but I did find out later that there are masks designed for glasses wearers!
Ultimately, I think the most important thing is that you are safe and feel like you can see. Most people I game with have no issue overlooking the glasses even if you are wearing big modern plastic glasses at a medieval game. If you need them and can’t afford a spare, nobody should make you feel like you can’t LARP.
I hope this helps!
A side note, on contact lenses:
I regularly hear “Just wear contacts instead!” Yes, that’s an option for some. It’s not an option for people like me whose eyes have such dramatic astigmatisms that even specialized contacts do not work for me, it’s not an option for people with phobias of things touching their eyes, it’s just not an option for many people. So this post is for them, or for people who can wear contacts but have a hard time getting them reliably into their eyes after three days at a campsite in the woods where the running water has frozen up and their eyes are so dry the contacts feel like they are trying to insert little cups of sharp glass.