So to not totally take over the Skyrim thread, let's talk about LARPs here instead
The two LARPs I went to where both primarily played by people between 15-20 years old so they were not super serious. In both games we had received a little bit of information about our roles (name and some kind of diffuse goal). What happened pretty quickly was that no one I met cared much about their goal and instead just existed in the world. Especially in the first one which was a fantasy themed one you could just go out into the forest and explore. There was a lot of camps with weird creatures (orcs, elves, etc) all around the forest that you could find. I would say that that part worked pretty well, even though you had no sense whatsoever of what was happening in the overarching storyline. There was also rules for how you died but it didn't happen that much... and I think you got a new role then. The thing lasted for a couple of days. I was only 14 years old, so for me it was an awesome experience... dunno how it would feel to got there now
The other time the LARP was arranged by our highschool so people were definitely not experienced at roleplaying. It was weighed up by the preparation/reality of it though. We were playing refugees and was taken by armed men out into the forest and had to stay in tents, constantly supervised and somewhat harassed. In the night it was freezing cold and there was sounds of shooting all around us in the forest (at those moments we had to lay on the ground to avoid bullets...). All we got to eat was some potato/leek soup which I couldn't have for a year afterwards, just because of the association.
I don't know really what to make out of my experiences relating to videogames/notgames. Both events were very strong and memorable, though simplistic and with a lot of "out of character" moments. The reality of the situation (it was really cold, etc) kind of helped to keep it interesting anyway. I'll think more about it...