Kategoriarkiv: Larpwriter summer school

Being in Minsk

I haven’t written about any of the things I’ve been doing since JaLL. I haven’t had the time for the long rambling posts I used to. I have long drafts for last years Larpwriter Summer School, Black Box Copenhagen and Before We Wake, but haven’t had time to get them edited and everything after them I haven’t even had time to write a draft. And it looks like that won’t change for the foreseeable future.

So I’m going to try and develop a new and quicker way for me to write about my larp experiences. This is an attempt at that format. Tell me what you think.

So this weekend I went to Belarus to participate in Minsk Larp Festival. They had invited me several times and finally I could go. This first post is about my time in Minsk. The next will be about the games I played.

The format I’m trying out is to write this on my phone on my way home. And I’ll try and make it picture based by picking some pictures I took while there and write whatever thoughts they give me.

All in all it was a great trip where I again and again thought “wow this is not something you experience every day”. Right after we were picked up at the station came one of these experiences.

  We went to a flat some of the other international participants had airbnb’ed. Through a hazarded and definitely not building regulated route they showed us up on the roof of the building that sat right in the centre of Minsk to the view above the central square of Minsk.

The next day our local hosts (all my fellow LWSS alumni) showed us parts of Minsk. Me and Yauhenia (Who I stayed at during the festival and who was a great host and guide) started out by visiting the national library that is housed in the space station you see above. It’s just one example of the size of Minsk. Everything is built big and with lots of space between.

We went to the top of that building and got a great view of Minsk including these soviet era buildings still with the original murals. 

  Inside the top floor was a small art gallery. This picture is from that. The artist painted these landscapes littered with these strange ghost ladies. Very moody. 

  We then meet up with Jamie and Mark, some of the other international participants and lwss alumni, and went to a museum for sculptures. As you can see most of them prominent communists.

  They were all by by the same artist apparently known for his ability to show emotions and personality in is works.  (can’t remember his name). This picture is of one of the first female officers in Belarus, I really like the strong expression.

  The artist was very fond of sculpting Lenin.

  As you can see…

  We were told that during the soviet an artist could make a living just making Lenins because every city, no matter how small, always had to have at least one Lenin. This artist was known for making some of the best Lenin’s. 

  After that we went to the area where the festival would be. It was in the middle of the hippest part of town. 

  It was an old factory area were the old factories were being turned it to studios, cafes, workspaces, galleries and so on. A very strange mix of old rundown buildings and incredible hip and modern activities. 

  In one of the galleries was a showcase called “21” it was a group of 21 year olds who each had been given a disposable camera (with 21 pictures) and asked to show their life and identity through the pictures. It was really interesting and they had really but some thought into the pictures. 

  It kinda connects to “…And that’s it” a game I’m designing where I want the players to create the characters through mood boards.

  We talked about that it could be interesting to give players of a long larp a disposable camera as preparation and take pictures to represent how they will play their character. Then you could put them on wall before game start and that way everybody could get a visual idea of the other characters. That could be cool. 

  In connection to the gallery was an independent publisher and its bookstore. They had not been outright banned but their permit to print kept getting delayed by small “mistakes”. So they had been fined for printing books without a permit. This created an outrage and people donated money to help pay the fine. All these stars are names of the people who helped. 

  In the evening I had the most special experience of the trip. We went to see The Belarusian Free Theatre. A well known theatre group where the writers and directors have had to flee because of their critical plays. Now they continue to work in London and the actors still perform the plays but in hidden locations. 

  The play was called Being Harold Pinter and was a mash up of parts of his plays and his Nobel speech. It was very intense and I both felt like an outsider and like I was being included in something special. I understood the play on an intellectual level. But looking at the local audience I could see this struck them much much deeper. One of them said afterwards: “it was like they kept poking us with the things we know about our country but don’t want to think about.” It was a very powerful experience. 

There’s many many things I haven’t mentioned now that I’m trying out a shorter format. Many cool talks and you know all the social stuff. But you might later hear about it from the ideas and thoughts that they gave me. 

Humm that became longer than expected. Next time is all about the larping. What do you think about the format?

Lwss2014 – Day five saturday

And now it’s saturday and sadly it’s the last full day. It started as the others with fader talks and passing the salt in the workshop about them. After that more talks, and then we were split into two groups and took turns to do one of two workshops that were both very much about trying out the things, that we have heard about. A bit like the character and culture workshops. In this case they were called “Meta techniques applied” and “Wonders of the black box.”

My group did the last one first, so let’s start with that. The black box that the camp had, had been prepared for us and we were divided into groups that each had to take care of a certain aspect of some of the more important elements in a black box, to see how you could use it in game. They were as far as I remember light, sound, space and instructions. Then there was also a player group, to be the unlucky lab rats for the rest and a observer group to well observe and give feedback after each exercise. We then went through some exercises. First just generally play around, then in turn the instructors would put one of the elements in focus and told the rest to follow their ques. So that we could focus on what that element did to the game.

It was fun to get to play around with the black box a bit, and someone asked if we could get to play more, but sadly there wasn’t time for that. But it gave me an idea: I’m gonna do some open black box at Black Box Horses.

Probably on Sunday after the last game. Maybe both workshops like these, but also maybe slots you can book where you can try out things, you might be working on. If you just want a black box for your self for a bit. It’s something I could use and I don’t think I’m the only one. Maybe people could even volunteer as lab rats while they wait for their turn.

The next workshop was about meta techniques and worked a bit like the fader exercises where we played a very simple scene at a party at a high school and thru this we tried out many different techniques both to show what have been done and how they affect the game. I hope there’s a list of them some where. Thats a challenged for the school. When we do workshops and exercises theres both no slides, it’s not recorded and we can’t take notes. So when we get home we have no way of reminding us of what happened and how it was done.

Oh I almost forgot the extracellular workshop that was in the lunch it was an ars amandi workshop. And ars amandi is something I have heard a lot about but never tried. It’s a way of simulating sex. Now sex has always been a touchy subject in role play. I mean it’s a rather important part of our life and stories, but at the same time not something you want to do in your larps. But how do you simulate it without either breaking peoples limits or it just becoming silly. And also if you are going for a game with immersion, then you also kinda want it to at least give the illusion of the real thing. Not on the physical level but on the emotional level.

This is what ars Armando was made for. I can’t remember the story behind the title, but the concept is that you use your hands arms and neck to symbolize the whole body. So if you’re touching hands it’s kinda holding hands, but if you touch the neck then it’s full out doing it. But also the way you do it says something about what you are doing is it hard or tender, is it only one way and so on. There’s a meaning behind using hands and neck, because they are very sensitive, so the touch means something, feels like something, but it’s not inherently sexsual. It’s nice and intimate but you don’t get physically aroused.

It was both interesting to try the technique, although a bit overwhelming, but also to see how it should be presented as a workshop. There are some important elements here. The instructor has to be in complete controls and create an atmosphere of “this is ok and we are in this together” and so on. Because it can so easily become a worked, silly or uncomfortable.

And another important detail was that it’s the instructor that makes teams, because then people won’t be thinking “why did he choose me?” or “does she think I chose her for some creepy reason?” And so on. They way we did it here was standing in two circles one inside the other, the outer facing in, the inner facing out and then we took a step to the left after each exercise, so we also didn’t work with the same person all the time.

The final program on that last day was called the jam session of larp and was in essence a practical workshop showing how easy and hard it is to brainstorm a larp. It was both a humorous exercise but also had some real intention in it. This would be an interesting way to start a larp writing challenge.

On the floor was some larp ideas on posters that had just the setting and theme, I for example ended up with the setting: “the ant colony” and the theme making friends with your enemies,” but there were many more of all sorts.

First we were instructed to walk around and write small notes on postits and place them on the posters. Just what ever thoughts and ideas we had from the setting and theme. Which was interesting, I mean the fact that we were allowed to contribute to all the ideas before we got our own to work on, a nice twist.

I dont think I’ll go through the whole process here, but it was interesting and I have a sneaking suspicion that this method, or something like it might be what is used at the larp exchange academy before Knudepunkt, where you get to write a larp in five days with strangers from all over the world and then run the game at Knudepunkt. So keep an eye out for that.

Then it was time for the ending party not much interest for you, but for me a great ending of a great week with dancing, hugging, talking and midnight swimming in the lake under a full moon. magical.

And that was almost it, the next day had a round of talks where we could give feedback and ask questions about the larps we’d played during the school. A good way of wrapping up and reminding us of what had happened during the week.

After a last few things we were off to Vilnius for the last dinner some more drinks and a sort of together lunch the next day. During this time one by one people went home always accompanied by a lot of long hugs and promises of seeing each other again. I was one of few that stayed a week more for the Metamorphosis larp festival and week in Vilnius. I’m glad I did that extra week, it was a nice slow return to the real world. I don’t think i could have handled a direct return from Rüta to work.

I hope I can write about the time in vilnius, but right now so long after it’s hard, but we’ll see.

Any way thanks for reading along the few of you who are left. This was really a big experience for me. It nice strange and hard to look back at here a month or two later.

Lwss2014 – Day four: Friday

I wouldn’t call it routine, but now things happen as they had for the last three days, no more larp presentations but more fader talks and then testing them, then more talks. The first thing I want to talk about is the character creation workshop. It took over where the culture creation workshop stopped. It was something that I was interested in, because I have heard about all these big larps like Kapo, where the players create the characters through workshops. So it was cool to try, even in this light version, how you can use workshops to create characters. Again I hope this is online somewhere, because I didn’t take notes during the workshop and there was no slides and I can’t remember the details now, only that it was good and worked.

We used the elephant worshippers from the day before and even though it was a very silly culture, at least my group managed to actually create some cool and I think playable characters. For me it was also special, because I got the matriarch as a character (elephant worshippers are of cause matriarchal) and it was the first time I worked so intensely with a female character. And it was the first time I felt I could have played a female, so that was cool.

I remember a bit more now, it was well made where we shifted between working by ourselves walking around trying to find out how this character moves and working in the group giving each other feedback and making interesting relations. That was an interesting mix because you had someone to work with, but at the same time weren’t forced to work everything out in the group.

After lunch it was time for the last of the three different group things the larp Snaphane. It’s a educational larp about living in an authoritative system shown by setting it in a fictional version of our world where Sweden has turned into a dictatorship and the players are a group of people living in the same apartment block and they are told that some of the residents have hidden terrorist/freedom fighters (depending on how you look at them.) Now they have to figure out who did it or they are all sent to the dreaded camps.

But I opted out of this game, it’s not my style and I didn’t feel up for it. But that was a great thing about the summer school, they cared a lot about giving people the feeling that if it didn’t feel right you could always opt out and everyone respected that and you didn’t have to give reason. That was great. We have the same culture at Fastaval but again it implied and should properly be explicit like it is here. But for that reason I can’t tell more about this game so moving on.

After that we had more talks, remember I linked to them in the last post. Then it was time for more extracurricular activities. This evening it was the tango workshop, I also mentioned in the last post. After that a ritual workshop held by one of the designers from “Koi Koi”, a game that was run just before the summer school and uses rituals a lot.

I don’t know how much more I can say about the tango workshop. I can see how It can be used as a tool for role play and it is accessible for everybody, but you would really need to do a lot of workshopping to get to the point where you can start to use it your role play and not just spend all your concentration on not stepping on your partner.

The ritual workshop on the other hand I could talk about endlessly but I’ll try not to. See I was, before I went to Lwss2014, working on a game about a transition ritual from child to adulthood, I’m very fascinated by them, the fact that you are considered in a limbo, neither child nor adult and you might get lost and never enter adulthood, it’s a test. And that has interesting story implications. And then I heard about Koikoi and the way they use rituals, so when I heard that one of the organizers was doing a ritual workshop showing what they did, I was very happy.

I’m trying to remember what we did and how it worked, so much information! But this time its a bit more crucial, because none of this is online. Well then I’ll just have to pester the one who did the workshop. I told him about my idea and he said he liked it and to say so if i needed help, so he’s doomed.

I’ll probably write more about the game later on, this isn’t really the place for it. But one thing I will speculated about it: right now the problem is that it’s kind of two games in one and maybe I have to make two games (oh the horror!) or maybe the two ideas can fit together somehow, I don’t know yet.

On the one hand I want to make a game about the transition ritual in the style of a Nina game, so kind of Nina-style meets ritual workshop. On the other hand the original idea was to tell the story about a tribe in the modern society having to decide how they will deal with the surrounding world. I have this idea of the four positions: traditional vs. modern and community vs. individual. Right now I have a hard time combining these two ideas, but we’ll see.

Anyway much work to be done but the ritual workshop is a really interesting tool. Done well and you can have players making up new rituals on the spot.

After the workshops I thought I would have one beer and then go to bed. But on the way there someone told us that people were having a bonfire. And one never wanna miss a bonfire. So i joined that. It was nice just sitting around talking, being silly and serious in turns. All the evenings was much like that. Really an important part of the trip. So on one side you want to go to bed and save up energy, but also have fun and get every drop out if this amazing trip. I think the tip is stay up late, if things are happening, but don’t get to drunk, that’s what’s ruins you. And that was friday.

Lwss2014 – Day three: Thursday

Day three started like day two with first two larp presentations: “Prisoners for a day” an edularp about prison camps and human rights and “1943” a game set in a Polish village during the Second World War.

Ah I almost forgot, before that there was one of the extracurricular activities: morning yoga held by one of the participants. This was sort of traditional yoga, with the focus on exercise and workout, but friday and saturday another participant held a variant called meditative yoga which is something I might start to practice. It’s very easy, very relaxing. It really helps you wake up. If that could become part of a morning routine I would be happy. But I don’t know if sleepy morning me would be up for it.

Pack on track: Three more fader talks: openness (transparency vs. secrecy) culture creation (made by organizers vs. players) and character creation (again made by the organizers vs. by the players) And again the “Playing the faders” workshop. After that we had two talks and I can see now that I also didn’t mention the talk we had the day before. I don’t think I’ll write much about them. It’s not because they were bad, it’s just I can’t write about them half as well, as just reading the talks by yourself, or watching them. But by now they have collected most of the talks here, so go knock yourself out:

But I want to mention the two we had that was called respectively: “What is a playable character?” and “What is a playable culture?” Both had the same framework with a do’s and don’ts of creating roles and cultures. What traps are there that can make you design things that are in essence unplayable. They were very good and something I will be referring to when I design myself.

And now in the program we come to the in some groups almost legendary game White Death. Because it was my groups turn to play it. It’s a game by Nina and as some of you know I’m a huge fan…

… And I have tried three times to describe it, but each time it just ends up sounding so strange and weird and wrong. In short I can’t in words do the game the service it deserves because it’s a very good but strange game. It’s like most of Ninas black box games very strange relying heavily on physical rather than verbal communication, and it’s very hard to describe what happens and even harder to say why it works.

Except for one key element: design. Nina knows design and knows exactly what needs to be in a game for it to work. Or at least thats how it feels. I think that’s the lesson to take from this, know your design know what you are doing and why, be aware of every element in your game and why it’s there. And then even suger on the floor balloons and paper will make a great game.

So for the first time I’m giving up, I won’t do a report of this game. But despair not! For at the lovely Black Box Horsens the game will be run!

After the game was alumni welcome which is where the participants from the two previous years were welcomes to the school and from there on stay and had their own program joining us once in awhile. It was an opportunity for those who could to come back, reconnect and network and just get a bit of the magic back. I was a bit worried when I heard they would be coming, because I feared that they would come and be all “this is our place and this is how we do things.” But course they didn’t. They were very nice and very talkative and open that’s the larpschool culture for you.

After that we had a Culture Creation Workshop and if you have seen some of your friends go a bit crazy around elephants this is why. The culture creation workshop built on the talk “what is a playable culture and gave us the tools to create our own culture. But the brilliant thing was that this could also be use to both have players make their own culture or practice one you have made or something in between.

As an intro to the workshop the organizers had had us draw an elephant from description only and then showed us real pictures of elephants made by medieval artists, who had never seen an elephant but only based their drawings on the descriptions they had heard.

I think the point was that culture can never be completely described, because your players will have their own versions in their head, so by doing a culture workshop it becomes more clear for everybody what your vision is, the old learning by doing I guess. At the same time it gives the players more ownership of the culture, because the workshops allowed for varying degrees of player input.

But what I think was remembered the most from that workshop was the elephants. Because when we were asked to shout out suggestions for the culture we would be creating someone shouted “elephant worshipers” and for some mad reason that was accepted and so it all began. So we spend the next hour and a half creating this elephant worshipping culture that lived in a plastic forests in the future, always looking for the last elephants and trying to protect them from the hunters. Yes very silly but fun for us and for the rest of the school and beyond elephants become the mascot and symbols for summer school 2014. So now you know.

The workshop itself was very useful, it gave some interesting tools on how to build a culture for you game with the players. And it was very flexible, so you could both use it to create a culture from scratch as we did, or have some bits decided by the designers and letting the players form the rest. And finally it could be used to show the players a completely built culture. But let them work with it rather than being told, how it worked. Since this was a workshop I don’t have notes or slides from this, so I hope that this is online somewhere because I can’t remember the details, and I might want to use it myself someday.

And that was the official bit of day three. For extracurricular activities I went to something called “Fun with Nina and Kristo” where they subjected us to some warm up exercises and other strangeness. The cool thing was that it included many of the workshops from the “Workshop book”

For quite a few of the exercises from the book, I have looked at them and thought what’s the point of that? Now I know. I think that’s a thing with many warmups and workshops, what they do and how they work don’t become apparent until you try them. Now I have. I can’t remember that many of them, but I know that if I retread the book it will come back to me, at least I hope so.

After that one of the participants held a folk dance workshop, but the level was a bit too high for my taste but I did get to dance and skip awarkly. When I in my mind compare this workshop to the tango workshop I attended the next evening and I’m starting to realize that there’s a real skill to holding workshops. The tango workshops was held by an organiser, and you could just see the difference in well workshop-holding skills. And I think that was one of the things I hopefully learnt a lot during the week. It wasn’t on the program but just looking at these people holding very clear and concise workshops was a learning experience in it self.

Lwss2014 – New voices in art

New Worcester in art (left this great autocorrect here) was the second of the bigger games we played and the only game that we played all together. Which makes sense there are very few games out there that can fit that many people with in such a short timeframe. The game is online here

It’s one of those game where the brilliance is in the simplicity like a well made France dish where the trick is in as few ingredients as possible (can you tell I’m writing this from a French restaurant?) (Note: Well I was in the lovely Montmartre in Vilnius when I wrote it, but I’m doing the corrections and editing back home in Denmark, where I’ve been for a few weeks now.)

Anyway in New voices in art you play new and upcoming artist who have had one of their pieces accepted into the prestigious exhibition “New vices in art”. (Dam you autocorrect) The game takes place during the opening reception, where all the artist are present and some hang arounds as well. And now everybody move around and look at art and mingle. As you do.

Before the start each played randomly draws an art piece that the organisers had but up before we came (but you could play this in a real gallery and use the real art. Just remember to ask first;)

Each player also draws an attitude to his or her piece that be all from “I’m a hack all the others are so good” to “I’m the only true artist here” and so on. I got the sentence:  “Finally my piece got in, I don’t think, I could handle another rejection”. And I also drew a Video piece called “After love” that was very strange of a slowly woman waking up and then walking around dramatically in a dark room (yes all very symbolic)

But then came the first of the two things that really makes this game: we were given a very simple questionnaire about art, ourselves, creativity and so on. The questions were all agree disagree questions. We first had to fill this out as ourselves and then fill it out agian but this time as the artist we wanted to play. So one could chose to be as yourself on some points and completely opposite on others. One of the questions really hit home with me. It was: “I care a lot about what others think about me”, which is something I spend way too much time on. So I decided to focus on that and put my cheetah? Ah character in absolute opposite. A few of the other questions also was sort of connected to this, such as “I’m happy with who I am” and so on so where appropriate I also put them in opposite and left the rest like my self. That meant that I could focus completely on this one point and really work with a character who did not care about what others think of him and just act and say what he felt like.

That was both a great experience and also a bit scary and really interesting to work with. That of cause was my little project and not something the others could really see and not really the point of the game, which is to talk about art in a bit comical fashion. It was kind of a friendly parody on the artist and his surroundings. But for me that small element became the point and center of my game.

It was almost intoxicatingly liberating. I just had fun doing what I wanted to do. At one point one of the art videos caught my eye and I felt like watching the whole loop of about ten minutes (at least it felt like it. So normally i problery wouldn’t have done that, thinking what will the others think and I should be playing the game and so on. But not this time, I said to myself no no you want to watch this screw what the others think, so I did, and that was just one example of other things I did. It became a mental exercise I went back to during the trip, just saying: “no! Now you don’t care what others think,” and it’s something I’m still trying to do once in awhile. Its hard here in the real world, but I’m trying.

The high point of the game was when I openly criticized someone’s art and he whispered off game: “can I throw my drink in your face?” I said yes! by all means. So did that scene, it was perfect and a few minutes the game ended perfect timing.

The other part that made this game was its one mechanic called “tap the glass.” It meant that we were all walking around with champagne glasses (of course) and if someone tapped your glass you had to give an internal monologue and then drink of your glas to signal to the others that you were done. Of cause the monologue was not heard by the characters, but by the players who could then use this in their play. But another interesting thing was that it wasn’t you but the others that decided when you could give a monologue, which worked very well. It really gave something to play on and a good way to signal intentions to other players. Sort of “I tapped you glass because I need something to play on” Then you could say something that would give that player some inspiration for play. Or you could just tap to mess with people which also was fun.

And that’s it. That’s the game, a well made simple dish but full of taste. (My traditional onion soup has arrived) and the official program is now over. As I mentioned all evenings and even during lunch extra things happened both from organizers, experts and participants. I’m trying but I can’t quite remember what happened this evening. The first evening I think was “just” swimming in the fantastic lake. Oh I think the second evening was impro games by the lake. Where we met and played some games and most people came with suggestions. That was fun to try because we was such an international crew, so some games where the same, some completely new. I introduced people to my hack “All my little penguins” which is a mix between the warm up game penguins and flamingos and the Danish children game all my little chickens.

So that was only day two hang on for the rest.

Lwss2014 – Day two: Wednesday

Writing this I look at the program, to remember what happened when, and I can see that the first point of the second day was “Why do we larp?” I remember that as a very good talk, but I had to look at my notes just now to find out why (so many memories so little space, I’m so glad I took many notes). It was all about the reasons to larp, and it was a good way to look at a new project and think which of the many motivations is it that drive people to play this larp. But also to make sure that you don’t design one thing and the players except something else. This talk could of course not cover all of the motivations, but went through some of the most dominant.

After that it was two more larps presentations: Kapo And “Between heaven and sea” both games I’ve heard about especially Kapo, as I helped debrief both Oliver Nøglebæk and Thomas Mertz. But it was interesting hearing about “Between heaven and sea” from the designer, having until now only heard about the game and especially the by now famous ars amandi that was created for the game. This game was also one of the games that was referenced to the most.

Next up was the introduction to the mixing desk of larp, the glue of the whole thing, the tool in the center of the idea. The concept is called the mixing desk of larp because it uses the metaphor of a sound technicians mixing desk. Where if he turns up for this fader and down on another it changes the sound profoundly and can mean the difference between horror or comedy. The mixing desks of larp is the same: a lot of faders for different parameters of a game. Change the position on any of them and the larp changes. It’s not so much a design tool as a way of talking about larps, but it can also be used as a way to become aware of your own design and help you guide your design choices, by looking at which faders are most important for your game and what position they should be in. It’s to make the design choices you make conscious rather than just routine or accident. This is something I sorely need.

So for example on the second day and the first of many fader talks we were introduced to the concept as a whole and the faders: “player pressure”, “bleed in” and “player motivation”. So if we for example look at player motivation, the two poles are: competition or collaboratively. Meaning what motivates your players to play the game can at one end be the competition against other players and at the other collaborating with the other players. Many of the traditional larps and most Vampire campaigns focus strongly on this, where most of the things I make is very much about collaborating. Although mostly meta collaborating, that is collaborating between the players to create a good story, rather than the collaborating between the characters in defeating the game.

What is important is that neither pole is correct nor better. Both ends have strengths and weaknesses, but the important point is that where you place a fader defines what game you create. I won’t go into much more detail then that, the mixing desk is well described here, and much better than me:

But what they did next was brilliant. After each group of fader talks we did a short workshop called “Playing the mixing desk,” where we in groups of four or five would play out the same very simple scene again and again, but with a strong focus on one of the faders, we had just had presented. The scene was a family dinner with mom, dad, sister and dog, (son if five people) and it always started with the sister saying: “could you pass me the salt please.” The first time we were just asked to do the scene without any input, just improvise a family dinner from that simple information. But from then on the same scene was played with the many faders set in different ways to illustrate and remind us of the faders we had just had presented.

It was of causer a bit silly and exaggerated but it really served as a way to work with the talks you had just heard. Also the simple scene and that fact, that it was the same scene with the same people really helped focus on the fader, you weren’t distracted by anything else. Brilliant I think. I also think the silliness of it also helped us loosen up and get to know some of the others, even tough we played in the same group throughout. I’m very tempted to contact Østerskov Efterskole and ask if they want to hire me to come and do just a fader course with their students. Because many of the students start designing games during the stay at the school, and they would really benefit from this tool, I think. It will help them break out of habit thinking.

For for the next three days we were after lunch split into three groups, the same each day, and then we circled between three things, a new every day. The three things where: two workshops, the larp White death and the larp Snaphanen. So for example on the first day my group, group B, did the two workshops and group A did White death and group C did Snaphanen. And the next day my group did White death and so on. I’m glad we started out with the workshops, I don’t think I was ready to let loose in the larps on day two. The two workshops was called: “thinking outside the box” and “writing characters”.

If you’re wondering about the thinking outside the box workshop and also need to go a bit mad go talk to Charles and he’ll gleefully take you through the exercises, which has caused much pain but is also a good way to get the point across. I’m not gonna say much, because that would spoil it, and the point can’t get across on the written language, a bit of a problem for some of the items at the school.

It was interesting, but a bit hummm symbolic? He used the exercise to show a point but it really didn’t give us any concrete tools to help outside the box thinking. But of cause that might be impossible to teach. So using the exercise to give us something to remind us to not get stuck inside the box when we are wondering about design might be a good substitute.

The character writing workshops was much more hands on. Where we actually wrote characters going through the method that the organizers use themselves. It was very reminiscent of the teaching style of the Danish School of Journalism, where you learn by doing. This worked very well. You can feel that they have done this workshop before all around there was very little ehh and ehems. But the whole summer school was like that. They knew what they wanted with each talk and workshop and that was so cool. A very high level for an event run by volunteers. Higher than some of the schools I’ve been to.

The way these posts is written is very summing up, and very focused on the content, what happened, what did we do and so on. Which is fine, it’s what’s it’s all about anyway. But I just wanted add, at this point, that it’s impossible to convey the emotional and social experience, just know that while I’m writing this, I’m in a very strange and powerful space because it brings me back, which is both good (yay fond memories) and bad (buhhu I’m not there any more). As the song says it hurts so good.

After the workshops and for the two other groups the larps, we all did one great big larp together. That’s the one I mentioned in the previous post. “New voices in art”. But I wrote quite a bit about that, so that will get it’s own post. Look forward to that and the rest of the summer camp later.

Lwss2014 – Day one: Tuesday

As I mentioned it was a packed program so let’s just do it from one end and see where that gets us. We arrived on Tuesday and went straight in. The weather was warm and I was not wearing shorts, and was not clever enough to get a quick dip in the lake during the lunch. So are you going the tip is: even a quick dip Can mean a world of difference and there will almost always be someone who also wants to swim.

We started with the basics with a talk about what larp is and the history of larp. Interesting but not much new for me, except it was very fun the get the “whole” story of role play, not just the: “Gygax made D&D then stuff happened”, it was also interesting to hear that larp was invented simultaneously around the world by people going: “why are we killing orks with dice, lets do it for real.” It explains why larp has so many different cultures and backgrounds. But these two talks were very necessary because then we had a common ground to start from.

Then only a few hours in we played our first game. It was a simple game, and this again showed the well put together program. The games we played was very well placed, so we always felt ready for them. This game might have been boring towards the end, but was just perfect for the beginning and likewise some of the other games would had failed had we played them the first day. Well maybe I would have made one change and played “New voices in art” before “When our destinies meet,” but I’ll come back to that.

The game was called The Village and was a very short educational larp about how local history can make us make bad decisions. I might write a play report but I don’t think so, I wanna write about the others games more. But it was a good beginning game and I can see it as a good edularp both for getting a point across but also if you want to introduce new people to roleplay, a good gateway game so to say. Manly because you play four families that have to negotiate and vote about increasingly bad choices. So the small but important detail is: you play families not people. So each group represents a family and gets some clues to how this family acts. It’s a good midway point between just doing a group project and then playing your own character. You are still acting out, but it’s not you the person but you the group.

After lunch it was straight on to the first two of the mentioned larp presentations which was Halal Hisar, a game wanting to show the situation in Gasa by placing the Gasa situation in Finland. A game that sadly became more and more relevant as the week went on. One of the saddest and most moving moments was watching the two palestinians there watch the news. The hug I gave them after that is the most heartfelt hug I have ever given. Sorry getting emotional here, the other larp presentation was the by now classic Monitor Celestra and as I have mentioned these and the other larp presentations was then referenced to for the rest of the week.

The next item was a talk about what makes a playable character, one of the first eye openers talks for me. One of many. I can’t remember what it was, but I got the notes that I’ll take out when I next have to design characters. I think the slides will be online for all the talks somewhere, let me just check. Humm it looks like they are for our eyes only so far. Well that’s just another reason for you to go! But I won’t go into details about the many talks and workshops unless I have a point to make. The point for this first talk is: it was good, I remember there being many good things in it but I can’t remember what, but I got notes and the slides, so it’ll come back to me when needed.

And then a second game, so that’s two games in just one day along with many talks. I told you it was a packed program. The game was “When our destinies meet” but in a light version. The game is a very free game and more of a framework on how to create a game but for this play the organizers had made many of the choices for us.

But it was still fun to play. But as i mentioned I might have switched this game with the game that ended the second day. In “When our destinies meet” we have a very loose framework and characters that consisted only of one word: “The boss” “The exgirlfriend” and so on. From that we build relations and by via them the characters. So we had to create a lot and at least I was still a bit uncertain and shy. The other larp “New Voices in art” was much more create your character on your own and then during the game interact a lot. Maybe they should switch I don’t know.

After the game we had the first debrief, which was something that happened at the end of every day, where we were divided into the same three groups each day and an organizer asked us all the same two questions each day: tell us one thing you take away from this day and tells us what you feel right now. A good way to get us to reflect a bit on the day. Oh and very important they also went thru what had happened that day, rather useful because with so much happening it could be hard to remember even on the same day.

After debrief it was free time, the first day was pretty quiet, we drank a few beers and talked but for the rest of the days there were a lot of extracurricular things happening in the evening and even during lunch, so that meant that there was really rarely a spare moment.

So that was day two, a long post, and I fear they will only get longer. I had considered putting the larp descriptions in their own posts, but I see now they fit into the whole thing so much that I wont, even though that means even longer post. Sorry.

Larpwriter Summer School – where to begin?

So this has properly been one of the most intense periods of my life. First internship at the roleplaying school Østerskov Efterskole, then new job and moving and then Larpwriter Summer School followed up with a week in Vilnius leading up to the first Metamorphosis larp convention.

I should start with Østerskov, but I’m not gonna. I’m gonna start with the summer school while it’s still fresh in my mind. But where to start? I want to do as always and write a play report of each game I played, but I also want to try and tell about the summer school. It would be good with some kind of structure, but I think I’m just gonna do as always and ramble.

So: Larpwriter Summer School (let’s call it LSS from now on) is this program, that I think is some kind of EU supported ting, that wants to have people from Europe and Belarus to meet and exchange ideas and friendship in the name of freedom and democracy and other such ideals. But also give people the skills to design larps that can change the world. Or something like that.

But it is so much more than that, it’s the sum of the people there. It takes place in an old soviet summer camp called Rüta in the middle of a forest in Lithuania by a lovely lake in somewhat old buildings with all of the luxury of the soviet area. So already from the beginning we are sort of isolated in this magic forest, with only a few very puzzled other guests arounds us.

To get to go, you have to apply and tell why you should get to go, but I don’t know if they even reject any one? But I got in and went to this place. What hit me very quickly was how well this was planned. Not only was the very packed program run with forceful effectively but also the ehm. Well, design philosophy behind it was very clear.

Every choice is deliberate and it all works together to create an atmosphere unlike any I have ever experienced. Just one example I have used a lot: on the first day, within the first hour they presented us with the rule of the open chair. That means that if someone is having a conversation, then you are allowed to join unless they say it’s private. And if someone is sitting alone you should ask are you having some alone time or would you like some company?

Fastaval operates like this as well, but it’s an unspoken rule and I remember at my first Fastaval I didn’t realize this until day three. It takes guts to talk to a complete stranger even at a convention. But when the organizers start out with presenting this rule it becomes infinitely easier. So even it sounds a bit hippyish it really works, and helped little shy me a lot.

That combined with the very well made program where each item supported each other and by just the shared experience among the participants meant they I now feel very close to the people that where there. Imaged an efterskole stay condensed to a week and you get LSS.

Another good example of the togetherness of the program was that we played a lot of larps and there was also held a few larp presentation where organizers from some of the bigger larps in Scandinavia like Kapo and Monitor Celesta would present the games and talk about them using the overall framework of the summer school, something i’ll come back to.

Then all other presentations would use these games as reference. So everybody would know of the games mentioned in talks and workshops, because we had either had them presented or had played them. That was just brilliant, because we come from such different backgrounds. From me who have role played and designed for mostly Fastaval, but never tried real larps to people who had never roleplayed in their life. Such a small thing but brilliant.

That was the overall presentation over the next weeks I’ll describe each day and what we did.

If you normally read this blog, you might be wondering why it’s suddenly in english, well a few reasons: first I suddenly know a lot of international people, and i’d like them to be able to read along. This is also meant for the organizers, I know how much this kind of reading means for an organizer, so I want them to be able to read it as well. Finally it just happened, when I started writing it just felt natural to write in english. does this mean the blog will be in english from now on? I don’t know, maybe.

Mit liv er pt. ret fyldt

Der sker ret meget lige nu, en masse ting jeg faktisk burde skrive om, men netop ikke får skrevet om, fordi de sker. Det er næsten overvældende på den fede måde. Så derfor gennemgår jeg dem lige her, også for at bevare en smule overblik for mig selv. Måske jeg på et tidspunkt får skrevet lidt om det, men det er usikkert.

Onsdag i sidste uge: erhvervsmesse i Horsens, hvor jeg fik hilst på nogle af de spændende virksomheder som gemmer sig i Horsens. Blandt andet Meeting Horsens, som hjælper store og små events og møder med at finde de rette rammer i Horsens, kvit og frit. Blot endnu en grund til, at jeg elsker denne by og deres tilgang til at skabe liv i byen. Jeg skal, når jeg kommer hjem fra Østerskov, mødes med dem og snakke om, hvordan de kan hjælpe Black Box Horsens.

Fredag: spiltest af mit undervisnings rollespil om Erik Menveds tvangsborg på Bygholm, som gik godt. Som jeg dog fik omtalt.

Weekenden: Tre hektiske dage med Media Hack Days, som jeg også har fået beskrevet, men det er ligesom en del af historien.

De næste fire uger: Praktik på Østerskov Efterskole, verden eneste rollespilsefterskole, hvor jeg skal dokumentere og formidle hvad det er de gør. Det er et vildt spændende projekt fordi jeg får kombineret mine evner som journalist og scenarieforfatter, desuden er det bare et vildt inspirerende sted at opholde sig.

Juni: puste ud lidt ud, håber jeg. Dog er der allerede planlagt en del møder, men heldigvis ikke noget stort, (endnu).

Juli: Drage jeg to uger til Vilnius i Litauen til LARP summer school og bagefter en Black Box Festival. Det føles virkelig som at springe på dybt vand. Drage til et fremmed land og bare kaste sig ud i det. Havde det ikke været for andre, som har været der før mig, så som Oliver havde jeg nok ikke turde, men nu glæder jeg mig bare vildt meget.

August: Eidolons Summer of LARP, hvor jeg både sætter scenariet: Fallen Stars op på Komediehuset og Thais sætter mit Stjernetegn op. Desuden er der Middelaldermarked i Horsens og endnu et black box scenarie, denne gang Drengen og mælken første weekend i september, for lige at lave vores egen fortsættelse af Summer of LARP.

Endelig blev jeg i går færdig med det første meget grove udkast af bogudgaven af Bamsers mod, og da jeg nævnte det på Facebook fik jeg en meget overvældende positiv reaktion, så nu ser jeg intet andet valg, end også at begynde at renskrive det og se hvor det så leder mig hen.

Mit liv er pt. ret fyldt