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.

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