Yesterday, I riffed on Fastaval, an awesome Danish roleplay convention I attended as part of my two-week Nordic roleplay junket. Today, I want to talk about a few favorite elements of the convention that US convention designers might import into their own conventions:
- The Dirtbusters. So far as I know, the Dirtbusters were created — maybe a decade ago or longer? — when no one wanted to clean toilets. These folks — mostly men — don jumpsuits, sunglasses, and pink tutus and spend the entire convention engaging in a larp in which they fight the forces of entropy with semi-military precision armed with plungers and mops. In the states, we’d have to do it minus the beer and porn-laden command center, but I love love love the idea of creating a pervasive larp that convention staff can participate in. Because people who help out deserve to have fun too.
- Communal Service. Fastaval has everyone do a couple hours of service for the convention, which really changed the dynamic from one in which we came to be entertained, like clients, into one where we were in it together. The hours I spent serving food weren’t necessarily my favorite, but they changed the nature of the experience for me. Many hands make light work. I’ve seen this helping-out super-power work at my local boffer larp, where everyone signs up for a mandatory NPC (non-player character) shift during the course of the weekend, with similar community-building results.
- Game Exchange. Bring an old board or card game you haven’t played in a while, and exchange it for another. The only stipulation is that when you’re done with your vintage game, you can’t sell it, but must pass it on. The games had little library cards in them, showing their history of ownership.
- Scenario Writing. In addition to the Fastaval concept — people writing and workshopping games for the convention, which is awesome and should be exported — Fastaval also ran a scenario-writing competition that took place during the convention. Participants were given their inspiration — two obese women and the scent of marzipan — at the start of the convention and had a couple days to write a scenario, which was then-judged. A cool idea.
- Photo Competition. Not immediately related to games, but another community-building activity. Maybe it’s just me, but there seemed to be tons of gamers walking around with serious photo equipment at Fastaval. Folks took photos of the convention, quickly printed them and slapped them into frames, and set up a display within the main function room. A cool way of encouraging people to document the convention with unusual angles, bright colors, and razor-sharp focus.