As always, the larpers, theorists, and journalists have been busy over the last few weeks, writing about the hot-button issues of race, religion, and gender in larp. Here’s what I’ve been checking out:
- Safety! Johanna Koljonen delivers the dopest lecture I’ve seen in a long time. Her talk on larp safety, given at the Larpwriter Summer School in Lithuania, is about an hour but is well worth watching for anyone who wants to run a game. Fascinating, insightful stuff.
- Larp in Palestine! Some Norwegians totally ran a larp in Palestine last weekend. More news and links as they develop.
- Racism! An intriguing meditation on in-game racism by European (Finnish? German? Dutch?) researcher Rafael Bienia. Glad to see this in print, though I’m not sure I agree with everything he’s written. If larp does create allophilia, it’s a simplified allophilia that doesn’t reflect the insidious subtleness of modern-day racism. When I’ve witnessed racism used in game in US larp, it’s the clear stuff settled in the 1960s, in part because we’re anxious about hurting each other. But I do agree that larp, by dint of its form, could be a powerful tool for understanding racism.
- Religion! The blogger over at larp_musings zings the Nordicans for making games that don’t deal with religion in an up-front manger, and suggests it’s because religion isn’t big in the Nordic countries. In the more-religious US, though, religion is still a charged topic for some larp sets. Some games explicitly disallow in-game religion in order to ensure that no one’s religions beliefs are offended. Some games stay away from religion because of the whole Satanic panic thing. Some games have full and important pantheons.
- US larp, explained! Swiss larper Thomas Be explains the difference between Swiss and US larp. An interesting slant on what American larp is like.
- Agency! Evan Torner continues his interview series with essayists from the new collection Immersive Gameplay with theorist Nicholas Fuist, who agitates for more data collection in roleplaying research and talks about how RPGs help players shape themselves through play.
- Olympics! Awesome Olympic geek gymnast performs to Zelda theme song. (Kotaku)
- Bureaucrats! Who likes to larp? British civil servants, that’s who. (BBC)
- Girl Gamers! Swedish researcher Annika Waern wants to use pervasive games to help girls overcome the challenges of growing up.
- Self-promotion! I talk Nordic larp, bleed, and leveling up the American scene with Bookslut.
And there are a couple sweet, sweet events coming up:
- I head to Gen Con this week. Coming? Come see me, pretty please!
- Mad About the Boy sign-up for the US run is cooking. Three more days to catch the early-bird rate. Know women who should come to this game?
- Two sweet conventions coming to a New York City near you: