The Quest for the Perfect Manifestation of a Dream

Martin Ericsson explains why live action roleplaying totally beats computer games when it comes to immersion. He goes on to talk about his use of 360° immersive aesthetics in the games Hamlet, a decadent 1930’s version of the Shakespeare play, and Carolus Rex, a Swedish space drama staged in a submarine.

Martin Ericsson is senior designer. Over the past fifteen years he has instigated, written and designed more than twenty pieces of participative art ranging from reality games and Shakespeare adaptations to massive sci-fi and fantasy larps. Ericsson’s recent work includes four years of pervasive games research at the Interactive Institute’s Game Studio, culminating in the creation of the Interactive Emmy Award winning The Truth About Marika, the worlds first fully integrated participation drama. Through work at The Company P, Ericsson has collaborated with some of the world’s most respected showrunners, like Joss Whedon and Tim Kring.

Further reading

Eye-Witness to the Illusion: An Essay on the Impossibility of 360° Role-Playing
by Johanna Koljonen, in the 2007 Knudepunkt anthology Lifelike.

Five Weeks of Rebellion: Designing Momentum
by Staffan Jonnson, Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros and Emil Boss, in the 2007 Knudepunkt anthology Lifelike.

“I Could a Tale Unfold Whose Lightest Word Would Harrow up Thy Soul”:
Lessons from Hamlet

by Johanna Koljonen, in the 2004 Solmukohta anthology Beyond Role and Play.

Introduction to Nordic larp – Johanna Koljonen

Johanna Koljonen introduces Nordic larp by talking about her bodily experience of a fallout shelter outside Tulsa during an alternate past Cuban Missile Crisis. She explains how you can understand what goes in to creating ambitious larps by comparing the process with a birthday party, and goes on to answer the question of wether these games are games at all. Watch this Nordic Larp Talk for a brief introduction to Nordic Larp and why it’s an art form worth knowing more about.

Johanna Koljonen is a writer, Radio and TV host, critic, and a popular lecturer on larp and related topics. Her groundbreaking larp criticism, in essays like “Eye-Witness to the Illusion: The Impossibility of 360° Role-Playing” and “The Dragon Was the Least of it: Larp As Ephemera and Ruin” are widely quoted in the field.  She is a co-founder of the TV, radio and web production company Rundfunk Media AB and has a BA in literature. She has hosted several popular radio shows such as “P3 Kultur – Nördorama med Johanna Koljonen” and “Jättestora frågor med Johanna Koljonen” on Swedish national radio and writes columns for Dagens Nyheter and Fokus. She is the scriptwriter of the Oblivion High series of graphic novels and the co-author of the book-length larp autopsy Dragonbane – The Legacy. Read more: johannakoljonen.com

Further reading

Eye-Witness to the Illusion: An Essay of the Impossibility of 360° Role-Playing
by Johanna Koljonen, in the 2007 Knudepunkt anthology Lifelike.

One of the dominant design ideals in Nordic larp is the 360° illusion, the ambition to create a physically realized virtual reality in which “what you see is what you get” – everything in the game area representing its fictional counterparts exactly. In this essay, Koljonen traces the development of this ideal, charts the experience of interacting with such an environment, compares it with real-life role-playing situations and challenges the assumption that a complete physical illusion will always bolster the experience of being “in character”. The essay includes descriptions of the larps Föreningen Visionära Vetenskapsmäns Årliga Kongress (a conference of mad scientists), Carolus Rex (retro-futuristic space pulp staged on a Russian submarine), Knappnålshuvudet (a combined lunatic asylum and therapy centre watched over by guardian angels).

The Dragon Was the Least of it: Larp As Ephemera and Ruin by Johanna Koljonen, in the 2008 Solmukohta anthology Playground Worlds. 

Dragonbane – The Legacy by Johanna Koljonen, Tiina Kuustie and Tiinaliisa Multamäki

PDF download

This book-length post-mortem and the theoretical essay that preceded it describe the design, production and outcome of the fantasy larp Dragonbane, in which an enormous international team of volunteers created a fully-functional fantasy village in the remote forests of Swedish Älvdalen. The game had functional magic, special effects and pyrotechnics and an animatronic dragon the size of a building.

24 Hours in a Bomb Shelter: Player, Character and Immersion in Ground Zero
by Heidi Hopeametsä, in the 2008 Solmukohta anthology Playground Worlds.

Notes and links from Nordic Larp Talks

The first Nordic Larp Talks event is over. Thank you to everyone who made it possible, despite volcanic disruptions, and thank you for joining at Café Klara or through the live broadcast!

Here are some notes and links that were mentioned during the event:

Books

Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola have edited two anthologies on Nordic larp. Both are available online as pdf downloads:

Beyond Role and Play

Playground Worlds 

They are currently working on a coffee table anthology about Nordic larps, read more about it on the project blog: nordiclarp.wordpress.com

Nordic larp conference Knutpunkt

The annual conference on Nordic larp, Knutpunkt, is in Sweden this year. Nordic Larp Talks was part of the programme preceding the conference.

Knutpunkt 2010

Educational larping conference ELIN

Once day before the Knutpunkt conference, and still has space. 

EDU-LARP – Live Role-Playing as a Teaching Method

Talk clips

Individual talks along with links, references, game facts and speaker bios will come online on this website as well!


Nordic Larp Talks – April 17th, c/o Stockholms Stadsteater

Two hours of entertaining, thought-provoking and mind-boggling lectures about the culture of the future, participatory storytelling and interactive theatre. Hosted by geek, journalist and games critic Johanna Koljonen.

Volcano update! Nordic Larp Talks has several speakers and production people stuck in various places in Europe, but we’re still on! We have a great programme still, so come along! 

April 17th, 16.00-18.00 at Café Klara, c/o Stockholms Stadsteater. The event is free, but you can reserve a seat here if you like! A number of seats will also be held for people without reservations, but if you want to make sure, fill out the form!

Speakers: Jaakko Stenros, Emma Wieslander, Andie Nordgren, Peter Munthe-Kaas, Markus Montola, Johanna Koljonen, Mathias Gullbrandson, Martin Ericsson. Speaker bios.

About

Space monsters on Russian submarines. A mechanical dragon the size of a house. Gender-deconstructed space bedouins at the National Theatre. A decadent Hamlet in a 1930s bunker. Six weeks of adventure and every-day life in a parallel Stockholm. Asylum centres, bomb shelters, medieval villages, hippie communes, mental landscapes – worlds for the participants to experience on their own bodies.

The Nordic countries are the best in the world when it comes to role-playing games as a story-telling medium, an art form and a pedagogical tool. In conjunction with the Knutpunkt conference, which gathers the movement’s top Nordic, European and US names to Stockholm, c/o Stadsteatern will be hosting two hours of entertaining, thought-provoking and mind-boggling lectures about the culture of the future, participatory storytelling and interactive theatre.

From extreme emotional experiences in abstract rooms to detailed simulations of virtual worlds, from gripping societal criticism to total escapism, this Nordic movement has achieved what the games industry, institutional theatres and political communicators have only dreamed of – participatory Gesamtkunstwerk of a high artistic quality. Nordic Larp Talks is a useful and entertaining two-hour presentation of some of the movement’s most fascinating experiences and the most exciting lessons learned.

The event is produced by games producer and social commentator Andie Nordgren and hosted by journalist and games critic Johanna Koljonen, who will also give the introductory talk. The talks are aimed at cultural producers and the general arts audience and do not require previous knowledge of game design or gamer culture. The event is in English.