Nordic Larp Talks 2019

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#1

The annual Nordic Larp Talks happened on Friday. For those who don’t know, these are a series of short talks given in the leadup to Knudepunkt on varying topics. There’s a Facebook video stream here, and they should eventually be chopped up into individual talks on the official website.

Talks included:

  • Muriel Algayres on “Not Good Enough: On Larp And Systematic Anxiety”
  • unknown on “Designing larp for multicultural participants” AKA “The brave hobbits and bollywood”
  • Jeffe and Maria Bergman Hamming on “Ars Rego: A technique for physical magic and control” (-2:19)
  • Sagalinn Tangen on “Intergenerational storytelling”
  • Susan Ploetz on “Designing for the somatic imagination”
  • Simon Brind on “Lost in Love - from DJ to GM” (-1:39)
  • Mo Holkar on “Fleshing the skeleton: how to empower players to make characters their own without feeling they are ‘breaking the larp’”
  • Kaisa Kangas on “Two tools to structure a larp” (-0:48)
  • Abbe Serup Grove on “Costumes for real bodies” (-0:38)
  • Juhana Pettersson on “The Piss Room” (-0:24)

I’ve watched them all (except the Ploetz, which I gave up on when it started doing philosophy of mind), and I’ll post some thoughts on some of the more interesting talks later.


#2

I would totally play Bollywood hobbits


#3

Muriel Algayres on “Not Good Enough: On Larp And Systematic Anxiety”: lots of people involved in larp feel anxious about playing, running, interacting with others, whether their costume is good enough, whether their larp is good enough. The concept of larp as art, the culture of larp criticism, and the fear of getting a reputation as a bad larper/GM all contribute to this problem. Algayres suggests clear communications, dedicated emotional support staff, and hype management as ways of managing it and reducing anxiety, though these seem mostly targeted at players.

In NZ, mostly I’ve seen player anxiety, and a lot of it is FOMO. GM anxiety seems less pronounced, possibly because we don’t think of our larps as art and therefore don’t worry so much about whether they meet some external standard of approval.

“Designing larp for multicultural participants” AKA “The brave hobbits and bollywood” starts with the question of how do you design a larp where 50% of the participants are refugees from Afghanistan or Syria who do not share a geek cultural context with the others? You can guess the answer from the subtitle: Bollywood! Its a great source of cultural inspiration, is incredibly pillageable, and has music and dancing which are an easy way to get people to smile.


#4

“Ars Rego: A technique for physical magic and control” is a nifty little gesture-based technique from a larp called Spellbound (no, not that one), about people being kidnapped by faeries. While inspired by dance, I don’t think it needs it, and it has obvious applications to things like VtM’s Presence “Summoning” power. Perhaps something to add to the toolbox.

“Fleshing the skeleton: how to empower players to make characters their own without feeling they are ‘breaking the larp’” is about character creation techniques. The Mixing Desk of Larp has a slider for “character creation responsibility”, with organiser-created at one end and player-created at the other. Skeletons are an intermediate position, where the organiser provides a character summary with the minimum necessary to make the larp work, and leaves the rest up to the player to personalise. Workshops, questions, or pick-lists (PbtA-playbook style) can be used to guide the latter if necessary, and this can be used to set player expectations and establish theme and setting. Its a potentially useful technique for some sorts of games.


#5

Personally, the main thing I’d be worried about is boring my players. Nothing to do with art at all. (This applies to P&P games as well.)


#6

Kaisa Kangas on “Two tools to structure a larp”: a short talk on scheduled content vs designing settings so players will create content for you. Most (all?) larps combine the two, and it is a question of the balance between them. The insight from this talk is that the less conflict you have built into the game, the more structure or scheduling you will need to make things happen.

Juhana Pettersson on “The Piss Room”: starts out with an amusing anecdote about what happens if you use an abandoned building as a larpspace. But is actually about the deeply serious topic of organiser burnout and breakdown. This is bad for the organiser and bad for the game they are organising, so something to be avoided, and there’s a few suggestions on how to do that.


#7

Individual videos of the talks are now up on the Nordic larp Talks YouTube channel: