Mirka Oinonen is an educational studies student who has been writing and organizing larps since 2014. She is one of the five main organizers of the Life Beyond- campaign.
Martin Ericsson has spent 25 years designing, writing and running participatory art ranging from MMOs, interactive TV series, transmedia games and participatory Shakespeare adaptations to massive Sci-Fi and Fantasy larps. He was Senior Content Designer for CCP’s World of Darkness MMO and is currently Lead Storyteller and Brand Architect for White Wolf Publishing. His work on The Truth About Marika was awarded in Interactive Emmy®.
Masha and Zhenja Karachun are larpers and larp designers from Belarus. They have participated as speakers and facilitators at Larpwriter Summer School 2015 and Larporatory 2015/2016. Currently Masha and Zhenja act as organizers of the international Minsk Larp Festival 2016. They both work as educators at a university in Belarus.
Jamie MacDonald is a stand-up comedian, writer, and player of many larps, who has written frequently on the subject of performativity and performance in larp. Usually stand-up comedians don’t use words like performativity, so it’s worth mentioning that he’s also a performance and theatre artist, and has also recently lectured in Art Larp at SADA in Stockholm. He’s been coming to KP/SK since 2009 and is the co-creator of the Walkabout series of performance games, as well as The Lovers’ Matchmaking Agency.
Larp Bouldering: the courage to take your own path over the wall
At the start of a larp, players are often standing at the bottom of the bouldering wall, looking for viable paths up and across it, for places to solidly and safely put their hands and feet on their journey (there is more small talk and diverse costuming of course, but you get the idea). But unlike the recent idea of Herd Competence for larp design, Bouldering considers each player as the unique combination of physical, emotional, psychological, and intellectual skills they are, rather than as a more generic idea of “player.” The theory of affordances and constraints can be applied to larp design, as you consider designing to create appropriate handholds, footholds, and belay support systems to assist any participant in finding a viable, accessible, and engaging journey up and across the wall that this the game. No two journeys will be the same, and the player travels the wall alone, though in the company and support of others, each of whose experience is unique, though similar, to others.
Maury Brown is the co-founder and president of Learn Larp, a US-based larp production and edularp consulting firm dedicated to showcasing the power of larp to build community, trust, and empathy. She is also the co-lead organizer, writer, and producer of New World Magischola, an immersive wizard school larp set in a new magical universe based on North American history, culture, folklore, and geography. She and her partner, Ben Morrow, hosted four 4-day Magischola events in summer 2016, introducing around 600 people to the rules-light, consent-based, character-driven style of larp. She is dedicated to using storytelling and deliberate design principles to open larp to a wider variety of participants by creating safe and accessible play spaces for all identities and abilities.
Maury Brown’s keynote on “People-Centered Design” at the Living Games Conference in Austin, Texas, May 19-22, 2016.
Tina Leipoldt and Larson Kasper introduce a project where they together with Palestinian larp designer colleagues taught larp design to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
They talk about lessons learned (like “war stories” being a really inappropriate term for “larp anecdotes”) and introduce three of the larps designed by the students, the feminist Fairies and Frogs; Death of a Martyr, about dealing with grief without enlisting to fight; and Damascus 2025, about a hypothetical peace and feelings around having fled the country. The talk ends with a greeting from Basem, a Syrian larprunner.
(There is a joke in the talk which makes more sense if you know it was recorded on March 8, International Women’s Day).
Kristina (Tina) Leipoldt has been doing larp as long as she is a professional humanitarian. Combining these two interests became a logical thing once she realized that Edu-larping found more and more prospects. Besides designing and (co-) producing social-critical larps and mini-larps – initially only for the German audience – such as Kommissar Schmidt (2005), The Living Dead (2010), Welcome to Wandaland (2010) and KNB109M (2012), Tina stuck her nose also into training scenarios. She convinced her employer to use larp as a tool to train Syrian peace activists and social workers as well as promoting it as an “in house” technique to train multi-ethnic teams, working in complex humanitarian and crisis settings, in diversity and other funky stuff.
Larson Kasper is German larper and educator. Whenever possible he combines passion and profession into Edu-Larp. He has been part of different teams, writing and producing larps from 3 to 300 players such as the Aelm-Arthosia Series (1999-2002) and the KultUr Series (2004-2006), yksi/üç (2009), Welcome to Wandaland (2010) and KNB 109 M (2012). He is one of the founders of the larp-catering-crew ‘KampfKüche’, a jack-ass larp photographer and did different larp projects for both, traumatized kids and those with conduct disorder. He followed Kristina Leipoldt to Gaziantep to find out about the beauty of Syrian larp.
Finnish transmedia developer and larp designer Mike Pohjola talks about Baltic Warriors, a larp campaign of seven games in seven countries about the Baltic sea in the summer of 2015.
The larps were about political meetings on the topics of the eutrification of the Baltic Sea. “What is eutrophication, and how do you make a larp about it, since it’s an abstract concept that you can’t show?” And how do you make a larp about hubris? About the passage of generations? How do you let your players interact with consumerism, pride, nuclear radiation, puberty, or communism? This inspirational and funny talk answers that question! (Hint: the answers involve DEAD ZONES and some pretty awesome monsters).
Mike Pohjola is a Finnish novelist, transmedia developer, game designer and entrepreneur. He has founded two media companies, that together have won an International Emmy Award, two Interactive Rockies, and a Prix Europa. He is a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Aalto University, where his Master’s Thesis dealt with participatory storytelling in Classical Greece. He is also the designer and author of Age of the Tempest – a tabletop roleplaying game aimed for kids and beginners.
Editors Kaisa Kangas and Jukka Särkijärvi present the two 2016 Solmukohta (Knutepunkt) books: Larp Realia, and Larp Politics (both available as free pdf downloads).
Jukka highlights the varied content of Larp Realia – ranging from an article about a larp buit around actual fistfighting to the first food recipe in the long history of the Knute-books!
Kaisa talks about the new volume – subtitled “Systems, Theory and Gender in Action” – on the political dimension of larp. Among the topics are themes like refugees, fascism, experiences of larping as gay or trans, larp as labour, viewing larps with political science tools, and so on. A big section of the book is about political larps (including educational larps) from a range of countries. To the editor’s surprise, no articles about internal larp community politics were submitted. This is probably a sign of health!
Read the books
Kaisa Kangas is a Finnish larp designer who has been playing and making larps for 20 years. She is the fiction lead for the Palestinian-Finnish political larp Halat hisar (State of Siege) that will be run again in June 2016. She is also involved with designing and running educational larps for University of Arts Helsinki. Her other works include Ghost Express (2001-2002, together with Dare Talvitie), a pioneer of pervasive larp. She holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and a BA in Japanese Studies.
Jukka Särkijärvi is a writer, editor, translator, game designer, conrunner and Pathfinder Society Venture-Captain Emeritus from Espoo, Finland. He is currently working on his master’s thesis in English language and literature at the University of Tampere. His previous work include translations of the Stalker and Whispering Road role-playing games, game design on Vihan lapset, a great deal of role-playing game journalism for a variety of publications both on- and offline, and Roolipelikirja, a nonfiction book about role-playing games.
“What’s a Woman’s Role? Female Characters In Larps”. Lecture by Kaisa Kangas at the Ropecon 2015 convention