One of my goals with How to LARP is a way to describe the hobby to people who have never heard of it before. I endearingly refer to them as 'Muggles.'
The recent public attention LARP has gotten from mass-media pieces like the movie Role Models and the upcoming Knights of Badassdom has made describing LARP a bit easier. But for people who haven't seen those movies, explaining our hobby can sometimes be... tricky.
When I was attending vampire LARPs nearly every weekend, it was even trickier. I didn't want my coworkers or family to think I was actually drinking anyone's blood or menacing innocents. I've heard some people describe a Vampire: the Masquerade LARP as 'a dramatic troupe dedicated to exploring the themes of Anne Rice,' but I'm not sure that description is entirely accurate. Certainly, in the past, it definitely was - but White Wolf's flagship game has gone through several major changes since then. Buffy and Angel, I think, have more influence on the game today than Anne Rice (those who play it, not necessarily the writers).
Now, most of the LARPs I attend are of the boffer-fantasy variety, which can sometimes be even harder to explain. Usually, I just tell someone I'm going camping with some friends over the weekend. For a water-cooler conversation, such an explanation usually works quite well. But Muggle friends and family often want to know more, especially when the pictures hit Facebook.
Living in LA makes it a bit easy for me - every other person in this city is an actor, writer or producer in the making. So when I talk about being part of a troupe of amateur improvisational actors, people generally get what I'm saying. Of course, an amateur improvisational actor isn't someone you meet every day, so they tend to ask more questions.
I usually describe LARP in terms I used for the article, "An Introduction to the Game," but I sometimes still find it challenging to really convey the goal of a LARP. It's something most LARPers understand intuitively - we're here to tell a good story. But Muggles sometimes get lost in that concept. A game with no points or teams? How do you know who won? Where's your audience? Telling a good story is an abstract goal, and I'm still not sure I've come upon a satisfactory answer. Until I do, I shall remain an 'amateur improvisational actor.'