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.