Larp Bouldering – Maury Brown

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.



Monsters as Metaphors – Mike Pohjola

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.


Twitter: @mikepohjola
Age of Tempest:



Girls in Armour – a Danish Feminist Movement – Ann Eriksen

In 2009 17 women made an all female regiment for the Danish game Warlarp V. What started as an attempt to fit into a “mans” world ended as serious and important input in the Danish debate about feminism and womens representation. This is the story about what we did, how we did it, the mistakes we made and the succes we had.

Ann Eriksen is Danish larp organiser, scenario writer and feminist. She has been an major part of shaping the Danish larp convention Forum for several years and has helped fundraise over 150.000 DKK (20.000 EUR) for the Danish central role-playing organisation Bifrost. She is an active participant in debates about feminism and women’s rights, both in Larp and her field of study, which is History of Art. Last year she debuted as a scenario writer for the Danish convention Fastaval; her second Fastaval scenario will premier this year.

Ann Kristine Eriksen

Practical Applications of Lovecraftian Horror – Olle Nyman

There are more adaptions of Lovecraft stories and his horror mythis than there are originals. Olle Nyman will talk about a how they tried to bring some of them alive in different larp-settings.

Olle Nyman is a Swedish organiser and gamer. Active since late the late 90-ies he´s been part of Scandinavia’s oldest gaming-convention GothCon, as well as organised a slew of larger and smaller larps together with the Storytellers, often with focus on social issues and dilemmas, or horror.

Larp as Adaptation – Evan Torner

“We have only begun to test all the possibilities of expression made available to us through larp. While adapting material from other media appear ‘unoriginal’ to some, it expands the range of voices expressed in our medium. Evan Torner’s talk focuses on how we seek inspiration from film, novels and the human archive for our future larp work.”

“Evan Torner (Ph.D.) is an assistant professor of German Studies at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, USA, as well as a larpwright and game event organiser. He has published on a variety of topics, including East German cinema, science fiction, genre cinema and live-action role-playing. His work has been supported by Fulbright, the DAAD, the DEFA Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others. Together with William J. White he co-edited the book Immersive Gameplay: Essays on Role-Playing and Participatory Media (McFarland, 2012). He is co-editor of the journal Analog Game Studies.”

Playing as human or robot – Carl Heath

Is it possible to roleplay together with a robot with artificial intelligence? Human and Machine is a psycho-technological theater experiment at the crossroads between man and machine, where the aim is to explore the encounter between man and machine in a context where they are fully engaged on stage, acting, in real time. In this early experiment, Carl Heath talks about the possibilities of the project together with Robert Bolin and Michael Schade.

Human and Machine is a collabortation between Scenlaboratioret, The Collaboratory and Interactive Institute Swedish ICT.

Carl Heath focuses on research and development projects regarding ICT and learning and learning perspectives in game studies. Prior to his current position at the Interactive Institute, Carl has worked for the Swedish Armed Forces, National Theatre Company, Sverok (The Swedish Gaming Federation), The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU), the IT consultancy firm Technohuman, and GR (The Gothenburg Region of Local Authorities). Carl is the founder of GR Experiential Learning (now a part of The GR Pedagogical Centre) and the last two years, between 2010 and 2012, he was the Director of the Division of Educational Cooperation, as well as the Director of the GR Upper Secondary School Admissions Office. He has designed numerous larps and educational games. Carl has an educational background at the University of Gothenburg, where he studied political science, social science, pedagogy and ICT.

Twitter: @carlheath

What does Nordic Larp mean? – 
Jaakko Stenros

What is a “Nordic Larp”? What does that expression mean? A few years ago these questions were academic or trivil. That was before the term acquired recognition and brand value.

Now there is something at stake. In this talk one of the editors of the Nordic Larp book explains what he thinks the term means, where it came from, who gets to define it, and what is so damn special about it anyway.

Read the full keynote transcript

Nordic Larp Wiki

Jaakko Stenros (M.Soc.Sc.) is a game researcher at the Game Research Lab at the University of Tampere, Finland. Currently he is working on a dissertation on the limits of games. Together with Markus Montola, Jaakkohas edited three books on larp, Playground Worlds (2008), Beyond Role and Play (2004) Nordic Larp (2010). They are also authors of Pervasive Games: Theory and Design (2009).

Site: Jaakko Stenros
Twitter: @lizardenigma


How to become a god – Mike Pohjola

Mike Pohjola is a writer, a game designer, an entrepeneur and an activist. He has written two novels, three table-top roleplaying games, a manifesto, several theatre plays, larps at art festivals and for fun, some short films, digital games, interactive projects, and lots of other stuff. He has founded two award-winning companies, that together have won an International Emmy Award for Best Interactive TV Service (The Truth About Marika), two Interactive Rockies (Conspiracy For Good) and a Prix Europa (The Forest of Babel). He’s currently working on his third novel 1827 – Inferno about the Great Fire of Turku.

Twitter: @mikepohjola

My presentation, How To Become A God, deals with the history of drama from Dionysian rituals to reality television, and beyond, and how all of this relates to roleplaying. While doing that, I’ll also answer a puzzling point in Aristotle’s Poetics that’s been bugging theatre scholars for three thousand years.
Nordic Larp Talks and State of Play 

Photo: Jakob la Cour