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.