What do you get when you add an American sculptor to a Danish larpwright to a bunch of Dutch larpers, and mix it all with an art festival audience? The answer, it seems, is SonsbeekLive, a series of six three-day larps held sequentially in the summer of 2008, mixing the fantasy-larp esthetic with modern sculpture and a tad of Nordic-style larp ritualizing. The larp was produced as a collaboration between Danish larpwright Bjarke Pedersen and the US sculptor Brody Condon, with the central scenography (a white tower, home to the characters) designed by Condon. The other artworks of the Sonsbeek exhibition were also assigned significance in the larp and treated as scenography by the larpers.
Plenty of interesting things to learn from the documentation: Condon’s tower, of course, is truly inspirational and shows a potential third path for fantasy-larp scenography, an alternative to both crappy-looking symbolism (rope = city wall) and work-intensive authenticity (100 volunteers and 5000 stones = city wall). Continue reading Documentation: SonsbeekLive→
Introducing: the irregular column “Ninja Trick”, presenting clever little larpwriting ideas that are easy to share.
So there’s this group in Elverum in Norway, called “De Krakilske Papegøyer” (DKP), which no-one in the Oslo scene had heard about until they’d already organised five larps. And to the sixth one, Marthe, a larper from Oslo went and returned reporting (no) what she had experienced. Turns out they were using a novel incentive they called “sekundærrolle”, meaning secondary character description: little envelopes that you opened at particular times during the larp.
I don’t remember where this model comes from. My fuzzy memories tell me that it’s a Swedish idea, from the age before good larp models got talked about at knutepunkts and gathered in knutebooks, but I might be wrong.
The model simply states that during a larp, there are two kinds of personal journeys undertaken: the journey of the player, and the journey of the character. Both might have their high points, their turnarounds, their narrative structure. They might intersect to a great degree – the most important moment of the characters life might also be – to the player – the most important moment of the larp. But then again, it might not.
Some eight years ago, I decided to study interactive media – as an undergraduate at Designskolen Kolding and then for a masters degree at Media Lab Helsinki – in order to better comprehend what we did with larp, as well as to find a profession where I might benefit from my experience as a larpwright. The result was disappointing. Continue reading We’re way ahead of you→
In the US and UK a dramaturge is someone who adopts theatre scripts for a given stage. That’s not the way I’ll be using the word here. I am instead using the word in roughly the same sense as the Norwegian “dramaturgi”, meaning the inner and outer structure of a play – or, in our case, a larp. The important word here is “structure”. Characters, briefing documents, rules, plots etc. are not, by themselves, a dramaturgy. It is how they fit together, and form a structure for the players’ improvisation, that makes a dramaturgy.
Elves! Orcs! Digeses! Ninjas! As mentioned, I drafted a bunch of blog-posts before opening this blog. So when I’m promising at least two new posts per week for the next few weeks, it’s a promise I actually have a good chance of keeping. Here’s a sneak peak on what we’ll be covering: Continue reading The shape of things to come→
Role-playing is play – improvised drama – done for the benefit of the participant/actor rather than an audience. There are many kinds of role-playing – educational, therapeutic, sexual, tabletop, online, freeform, pervasive – and many different contexts where role-playing is performed. Role-playing is “play” both in the sense that Hamlet is “a play” and in the sense that children play. Anyone who has ever played together as kids understand the basic mechanisms of role-playing. Anyone who has only role-played as a kid is also in for a couple of surprises when encountering adults role-playing.
In “The Prince”, Machiavelli insisted that to govern well, the prince had to be a sneaky and manipulative bastard. While I might disagree with his politics, he certainly had a point when it came to larp.
There’s a certain sneakiness required to do larp design well – even if you design with open cards, your players will thank you when the way that things fit together unveils something wholly unexpected. If they think that it was entirely their own doing – that is: if the players were manipulated – they will be even more grateful. Hence, the title of this blog.
Just like Machiavelli, I’m male. Similarities end there. I am 33 years old, Norwegian, resident of Oslo. I work as a consultant on interaction design and usability issues. In my private life, I am an active “larper”, one who frequently plays larps, and a “larpwright”, a designer/author of larps. Continue reading Who’s this “Eirik” guy, and why is he writing this blog?→