essentialsaltes: (Wogga Zazula!)
[personal profile] essentialsaltes
Once again I announce: "All hail [livejournal.com profile] popepat!" And Mrs. Pope and Minipope. They once again opened up their house for (can it be?) the 12th Maxicon (which is still ongoing, but I moderated my participation to Saturday only... stretching into Sunday).

First up for me was Garrett's Dead Space RPG. I had played the demo, which made me the most knowledgeable about the source material I think. Which is not a problem, since the whole point is to scare the pants off you with the unexpected. It went well: fast-paced, high tension, limited resources, stressful timing deadlines. If there was any problem, it was that the gods of luck smiled on us too much in the final showdown. Good scary fun.

Next up, [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv ran The Tribunal, an award-winning LARP created by [livejournal.com profile] jiituomas. The 12 players play soldiers in a totalitarian state, faced with a difficult decision: whether to value honesty over expediency. I'm torn about how much I should or shouldn't reveal. One part of me says it doesn't matter since whatever happens is almost entirely the product of the players; the other part says that hearing the rationalizations or bullshit produced by one set of players might affect future players who read about it, and thus color whatever they would ultimately produce. I'll err on the side of caution and step back a bit.
I enjoyed the experience. This is perhaps controversial. Some people (named Aaron) have denigrated the idea that LARP is merely (?) an enjoyable pastime. It is Art with a capital A. I don't have a problem with that, except that in its extreme form Art becomes Pollock and Rothko. You're a rube if you expect to enjoy it, it's Art fer crissakes. Art!
I had my doubts about whether I would enjoy being an ant in a totalitarian army. But I came in to the game with not only an open mind, but a willingness and readiness to do it right. And the other participants probably saw me red-faced and shouting more in those couple hours than in the rest of their experience of me. Anyway, my awesome role-playing (relatively speaking) is beside the point; the point is that I enjoyed the experience. But am I supposed to enjoy my Brussels Sprouts?
My answer is that I don't care. LARP for me is an enjoyable pastime, and as long as I enjoy it I will continue to participate. It may also be Art; it may also be therapy; it may also be escapism; I don't care: Philistine that I am, I'm only interested in doing it if I enjoy it.
Anyway, stepping back in. I liked the way that character names instantly invoked associations that helped to establish character, and aided others in remembering same. I liked the way that the game was essentially entirely created by the players rather than directed from outside. The game relies on the players being willing to play, and I'm glad we had a group up to the challenge.

Following that was an impromptu meeting of the Live Game Labs & other interested parties, wherein we plotted the future of American LARP while simultaneously solving the problem of monetizing LARP and trading juicy gossip.

Date: 2012-05-28 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
LARP as entertainment vs. LARP as performance art (and the permutations in between) has been on my mind quite a bit lately, but I'm short on folks who can listen to me burble on about the topic without their eyes glazing over...

Short version: Different games suit different situations. Some days, I just want to dress up and be a bit silly, other days, I want something else... ;)

Date: 2012-05-28 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] essentialsaltes.livejournal.com
Yes, certainly LARP is broad enough an artform to cover a lot of styles, cover a lot of goals. And it is a shame that some people put LARP in a very small and confining box and never stray outside those limits. (Or worse yet, put it in a small and confining box and never try one.)

But [livejournal.com profile] aaronjv tipped me off about LARPs like "Fat Man Down" and "Gang Rape", and though I may hypocritically be knocking something before I've tried it, I have to say I think I would not enjoy these (nor would I become a better person). So, although these are LARPs, I would deem them bad LARPs.

Date: 2012-05-28 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
Just based on the *titles* my skin is crawling.

*steels self to click the links*

WHOA, NELLY!

Um, yeah. I'm all for pushing some boundaries - with mutual consent all 'round and stuff - but goodness me. That just goes way beyond anything I'd want to do for fun. And, indeed, far beyond anything I'd consider in the realm of good taste.

(Yeah, yeah, art doesn't have to be tasteful, but whether I treat it as performance art or momentary diversion, my first rule of LARPing is "Always have fun", so...)

Date: 2012-05-29 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
So much to say on this topic.

My main one is "What is fun?"
Fun for whom? The GMs? All players?

What is fun for me might not be fun for you. Also, I don't think the purpose of all larps is to have fun. For example, I started a company that uses larp for education. The primary purpose is to teach, NOT to have fun. Do we want fun games? Yes, but that is not the primary rule. Same, too, with the military larps.

Anyway, much more to say on this topic. Also, on Gang Rape and Fat Man Down larps: the titles alone scare people off and they won't look at what they are. Gang Rape was written to examine how the rape laws in Denmark (think it was Denmark) are very lax, with a heavy burden on the victim to prove that there was a crime. It was written to incite political action AGAINST the laws regarding the crime.

and....oh well, have to eat dinner

Date: 2012-05-29 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
PS- I recommend Marks Montola's "The Positive - Negative Experience In Extreme Role Playing" available for free here (http://www.digra.org/dl/db/10343.56524.pdf).

Also, subscribe to Playground magazine (http://playgroundroleplayingmagazine.wordpress.com/) for more articles about larping.

Date: 2012-05-29 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
Read the former already, will check out the latter.

Date: 2012-05-29 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
And as for "What is fun", well, that is a question that doesn't have a single, pat answer, as you know.

But a player can generally articulate what is fun for them and, based on a game's writeup, judge whether or not an event will provide whatever kind of enjoyment they're looking for. Similarly, a GM with their act together will choose carefully as to what sort of event to run at what sort of venue.

Mind you "What does a GM get out of running a game" is no doubt subject for thousands and thousands of words.

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cont...

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Date: 2012-05-29 03:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
Indeed, my definition of fun might not match someone else's and that's an inescapable fact of the world.

Ditto the purpose of various LARPs - although I think one can be forgiven for using the term in the most common sense of the word. Most gamers, in my experience, aren't thinking of educational events or military exercises when I say "LARP".

That said, I still would regard the extreme LARPs mentioned in The Positive Negative Experience of Extreme Roleplaying* with utmost wariness.

*Yes, I read through the whole thing, so I had more than just the title to go on regarding "Gang Rape". It still struck me as shudderingly unpleasant and potentially unsafe.



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Date: 2012-05-29 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ian-tiberius.livejournal.com
With the caveat that I have neither played any of these games nor read much more than the article you linked above, it sounds as though some of these LARPs are what a different crowd would simply call acting exercises or dramatic long-form improvisation, rather than some totally new and never-before-seen art form.

I played in my first sitdown session of "Final Girl" yesterday, and had a related thought about that. It's experimental, and different, and I definitely had fun. But it's billed as an RPG, and while it may be Role-Playing it's not really a Game. It's more of a storytelling exercise. (Super-condensed description: you portray characters in a slasher movie, but there is no GM and the players all collaboratively decide who/what the killer is and which characters die. I enjoyed it, but there's no "game" per se; the players' only goal is to have fun and tell a good story. As such, I'm not sure it really belongs in the same phylum with traditional RPGs.)

Not that there's anything wrong with any of that, of course, and there's no reason that the word LARP must encompass certain things and not others. But I wonder if it's at all useful to continue using a word so broad that it encompasses both boffer-fests and "Fat Man Down".

Date: 2012-05-29 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
it sounds as though some of these LARPs are what a different crowd would simply call acting exercises or dramatic long-form improvisation, rather than some totally new and never-before-seen art form.

Indeed. I've been returning to some of my sadly dusty acting textbooks and it is apparent to me that the closer LARP moves to this "extreme" model, the closer it is to dramatic improv. This isn't a bad thing - I'm constantly proselytizing various improv techniques to LARPers - but, yeah, it's not new overall... Then again, what is? ;)

Date: 2012-05-29 05:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ian-tiberius.livejournal.com
I'm constantly proselytizing various improv techniques to LARPers

Same here. I periodically run sit-down games based entirely on long-form improv techniques, actually, and it's amazing what can happen when you ask gamers (even people with zero theatrical/improv training) to apply simple rules like "yes, and".

britgeekgrrl, you seem familiar - did you run a Cthulhu game set in a Nazi research facility back at the first WyrdCon?

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Date: 2012-05-29 06:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
it sounds as though some of these LARPs are what a different crowd would simply call acting exercises or dramatic long-form improvisation, rather than some totally new and never-before-seen art form.

Some would call them that, but they are still larps. The designers call them that, the critics call them that, the participants do. My big argument against the stereotype of larps is that the content of a larp does not define the form of the larp. Just because it's about gang rape doesn't make it a larp.

But I wonder if it's at all useful to continue using a word so broad that it encompasses both boffer-fests and "Fat Man Down".
I talk about briefly in my essay: "Cooler Than You Think: Understanding Live Action Role Playing" (http://www.scribd.com/doc/33955116/Understanding-Live-Action-Role-Playing-LARP-Cooler-Than-You-Think). Other people smarter than me do as well. Personally, I don't like the word "larp", but I have resigned myself to it. Here's why:
it's too entrenched
content does not dictate form, and larp has a form that's different than acting exercises and long form improv
coming up with a different term will be waaaaay too difficult to get others to rally behind

I recommend watching Claus Raasted's recent Nordic Larp Talk on Larpification (http://youtu.be/T25RTNZjG90) (it's short).

I think it is useful to continue using a word that encompasses both boffer-fests and "Fat Man Down" because words like "literature" encompasses both Fifty Shades of Gray and The Great Gatsby. Or words like "music" encompasses Beethoven's 9th, Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner" and "My Humps". Or words like "game" encompasses beer pong, tic-tac-toe, and cricket.

As to The Final Girl, which I also played a week or so ago. There's a huge indie game movement going on right now with tabletop and video games. I am trying to introduce them to larp, and vice versa. There are MANY definition of game being batted about right now. It's a hot topic (yay!). One of the most common is Salen and Zimmerman's, from The Rules of Play: "A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome."

By that definition, why is The Final Girl NOT a game?

Also, what about Train (http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2009/06/24/can-you-make-a-board-game-about-the-holocaust-meet-train/), is that a game?

Are Viola Spolin's games theater, games, or larp?

A broad, nebulous definition is, IMHO, much better than a strict, rigid one. I drove myself nuts with a strict definition of larp when writing my essay, going back and forth with things like paintball or DungeonMaster the play. Once I freed myself of the chains of exactitude, I was able to continue and appreciate things that are larp as well as larp-like. FYI, I have three criteria for determining if something is a larp or not:
1. No audience, all are participants, and all participants have some degree of say in the narrative.
2. Actions are performed, not narrated.
3. All participants must agree on the bubble (or magic circle) within which everything is not necessarily what it really is, including you. This bubble must be continuously maintained via the actions and interactions of the participants.

Lastly, also in my essay, I don't think all larps are games, nor should they be.

Date: 2012-05-29 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ian-tiberius.livejournal.com
First of all, I don't disagree with any of your larger points (LARPs can be art, content doesn't define form, etc.) But enough friendly agreement - on to the quibbling around the edges!

I think it is useful to continue using a word that encompasses both boffer-fests and "Fat Man Down" because words like "literature" encompasses both Fifty Shades of Gray and The Great Gatsby. Or words like "music" encompasses Beethoven's 9th, Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner" and "My Humps".

Sure. But if I ask you "What do you like to listen to?", then "music" is not a useful answer. I didn't say that LARP couldn't be an all-encompassing word, just that when it becomes that broad I'm not sure it serves as a useful indicator of what you are actually interested in. And, it may be even less useful when the ever-broadening definition of LARP starts to overlap with other fields, as in...

larp has a form that's different than acting exercises and long form improv

Always? The "Gang Rape" and "Fat Man Down" LARPs read to me (again, from a very brief summary, so there could be points I'm missing) like acting exercises. Aside from the extreme content (and we've already agreed that content doesn't define form) I can easily see these being performed in an acting class. So what attributes distinguish them as LARP?

One of the most common is Salen and Zimmerman's, from The Rules of Play: "A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome."

By that definition, why is The Final Girl NOT a game?


Simple - there's no conflict (nor quantifiable outcome, for that matter.)

There's a pretense of conflict, in that the characters in the game presumably wish to live while the killer wishes them to die. But no player has goals that differ from those from another player - you don't have a particular character you want to preserve, or a particular outcome you want to make happen. You're just telling a story. And there's nothing wrong with that at all, but it's not a "game", any more than it would be a "game" if you sat down with a collaborator to write a movie script. It's just storytelling.

(Since you bring up Viola Spolin: obviously words can have more than one meaning, especially in different contexts, and improvisers use the word "game" to mean something else entirely. Most improv games are what I would term "exercises", were I to be pedantic. Like "Final Girl" or "Fat Man Down", there may be rules, but the players all have the same goals.)

Date: 2012-05-29 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
Sure. But if I ask you "What do you like to listen to?", then "music" is not a useful answer. I didn't say that LARP couldn't be an all-encompassing word, just that when it becomes that broad I'm not sure it serves as a useful indicator of what you are actually interested in. And, it may be even less useful when the ever-broadening definition of LARP starts to overlap with other fields, as in...

I disagree. What we need to start talking about is "What KIND of larp do you like to participate in?"
The broad term is fine. "Improv" can be too broad, does it mean comedy improv or theater, or both? But people still use it. So larp is fine, and as the medium gains more recognition, people can start to see the lines between genres of larp. If I ask someone "what do you like to listen to", "music" at least separates it from "audio books", "news", or "Rush Limbaugh."

larp has a form that's different than acting exercises and long form improv

Always? The "Gang Rape" and "Fat Man Down" LARPs read to me (again, from a very brief summary, so there could be points I'm missing) like acting exercises. Aside from the extreme content (and we've already agreed that content doesn't define form) I can easily see these being performed in an acting class. So what attributes distinguish them as LARP?


When I was writing my essay, I ran up against this dichotomy. And my solution was to have fuzzy borders. That being said, the difference between those larps and acting classes are almost nil. I consider improv acting classes to be larps.. However, as soon as you add an audience watching it (besides an instructor), it moves to theater. Because the purpose is to entertain the audience, not the actors. And in fact, when I was in acting class I talked about larps, and the teacher knew exactly what I was talking about, and my experience in larp helped me in the class, and my experience in the class helped me in larping. And sure, larps can (and have) been used in acting. "The Road Not Taken" by Mike Young is directly out of psychodrama therapy.

I see those fuzzy borders as things being "larp-like". So improv exercises and ARGs are very close, and may actually be larp. Larps on TV, like the upcoming "Realm of Larp" series, is getting closer to acting performance. I see nothing wrong with this, and in fact I love the fuzzy borders.

Simple - there's no conflict (nor quantifiable outcome, for that matter.)

There's a pretense of conflict, in that the characters in the game presumably wish to live while the killer wishes them to die. But no player has goals that differ from those from another player - you don't have a particular character you want to preserve, or a particular outcome you want to make happen. You're just telling a story. And there's nothing wrong with that at all, but it's not a "game", any more than it would be a "game" if you sat down with a collaborator to write a movie script. It's just storytelling.


I disagree. There is conflict in The Final Girl: the characters versus the enemy. The conflict is artificial, as the definition requires. And there are rules on how to enact that conflict, and the quantifiable outcome is that there is only one survivor. But which one? In fact, the rules to TFG, IIRC, specifically asks that players play their characters to win. Therefore, my goals are to have my character (whoever it is in that round) survive longer than yours. I can be easily swayed, but I want mine to survive. In our run, the character I most wanted to survive didn't. I think the one that survived was everyone's #2 choice, but not their #1 choice of survivor.

Like "Final Girl" or "Fat Man Down", there may be rules, but the players all have the same goals.
Not true. The players do not have the same goals other than "I want to participate in and finish this activity." That, to me is too broad a phrase.

Oh, and one more...
You're just telling a story.
So a D&D campaign isn't just telling a story? A Choose Your Own Adventure or Infocom game isn't just telling a story?

Just because it's a game doesn't mean it's not a story. Just because it's a story doesn't mean it's not a game.

Date: 2012-05-30 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ian-tiberius.livejournal.com
I disagree. What we need to start talking about is "What KIND of larp do you like to participate in?"

That's pretty much exactly what I was saying. My only point was that if we broaden the definition of "LARP" to the degree to which you suggest, then "I like LARPing" becomes a nigh-meaningless statement, along the lines of "I like music" or "I like audiovisual entertainment." More specifics are required to convey anything useful.

And my solution was to have fuzzy borders. That being said, the difference between those larps and acting classes are almost nil.

Fair enough, and my point in raising this was that the people running such LARPs should be aware, if they are not, that they're in established territory, if only so that they can make use of what's gone before, rather than entirely reinventing the wheel. (or, given that the term "LARP" has become very broad, maybe it would make more sense to simply use the "acting exercise" terminology to distinguish this style from, say, boffer LARPing.)

However, as soon as you add an audience watching it (besides an instructor), it moves to theater. Because the purpose is to entertain the audience, not the actors.

See, here's where I think there's clearly a fuzzy border. In a separate comment, you mentioned that in your view, LARP is selfish. I've never thought of it that way. Speaking for myself, I put a lot of effort - and not just as a GM, but as a player - into making sure that the game works and that other people are enjoying it. On many occasions I have been tempted to walk out of a shitty game, or to ignore my character's specified goals in favor of something that seems more fun. But I never do it, because I know perfectly well how that can fuck things for everybody else. As I see it, my job at a LARP is to make sure everyone has a good time.

(I would reassess that at a different type of LARP; in the unlikely event that I were to participate in Fat Man Down, I would make it my job to commit to the exercise.) My point is that I don't think of LARPing as a selfish activity; it should ideally be fun for me, but it's just as important if not more so to make sure that my role contributes to, and does not detract from, the experience that the other players are having.

I disagree. There is conflict in The Final Girl: the characters versus the enemy.

I could as easily say "That script you're writing with Bob? It's about a war. War is conflict, therefore scriptwriting is playing a game." But that would be stupid.

There is no conflict between the players in Final Girl. Or, to be more precise, there is a completely regimented and deterministic method for resolving the conflict between the killer and the players. (For those who haven't played, in each scene one player takes the role of The Killer. The Killer chooses a victim at an appropriate moment, and each player turns over a card; if the Killer's card is higher, the character dies. Otherwise, the Killer picks a new victim. None of the player's choices have any bearing on the outcome, therefore it is not a game.)

Therefore, my goals are to have my character (whoever it is in that round) survive longer than yours.

But you can't actually do anything to influence that outcome. Flipping a coin and proclaiming that heads means I win and tails means you win is not a game, either. The actions your character takes are strictly for role-playing purposes. Which, again, there's nothing wrong with. But it's story-telling and not a game. (Technically speaking, The Killer has some minor influence over the outcome, as s/he can decide what victim to go after first. But The Killer has no character of his/her own and therefore no incentive to influence the decision other than in pursuit of a better story.)

Just because it's a game doesn't mean it's not a story. Just because it's a story doesn't mean it's not a game.

I think that all the rebuttal I can muster here is "Duh."

Date: 2012-05-30 08:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
That's pretty much exactly what I was saying. My only point was that if we broaden the definition of "LARP" to the degree to which you suggest, then "I like LARPing" becomes a nigh-meaningless statement, along the lines of "I like music" or "I like audiovisual entertainment." More specifics are required to convey anything useful.

But, "I like movies" or "I like reading books" are often used to describe people. Each begs a further question, sure, but not many people say "I like reading fantasy fiction..." or do they? As larp is a young term for an ancient art (IMHO), I can only hope for the day when people ask what kind, or someone can say "I like fantasy larps" or "I like Nordic style" or whatever. I wish.

Fair enough, and my point in raising this was that the people running such LARPs should be aware, if they are not, that they're in established territory, if only so that they can make use of what's gone before, rather than entirely reinventing the wheel. (or, given that the term "LARP" has become very broad, maybe it would make more sense to simply use the "acting exercise" terminology to distinguish this style from, say, boffer LARPing.)

The Nordic larpers are aware of this, and I can direct you to a few papers dealing exactly with this. Larp is not a new wheel, not at all (not to me). It's a new name for an old, under-utilzied wheel that has been in the trunk of artistic culture for a long time. And since, to me, boffer larping is larping like FMD or acting exercises, the term larp still works. I want to be inclusive, not exclusive. Which is why I am trying to figure out if transmedia and ARGs are larping, or larps are ARGs, or both, or... But I am building a bridge between them, for the same reason I want to build a bridge between theater and larp. Although one essay says its more pragmatic to pair larp with performance art instead of theater art.

(I would reassess that at a different type of LARP; in the unlikely event that I were to participate in Fat Man Down, I would make it my job to commit to the exercise.) My point is that I don't think of LARPing as a selfish activity; it should ideally be fun for me, but it's just as important if not more so to make sure that my role contributes to, and does not detract from, the experience that the other players are having.

I won't debate that that is your approach, but that's interesting. Do you thus ignore your characters own goals so someone else can achieve theirs? Either way, larp is still a separate (but closely related) art to theater.

There is no conflict between the players in Final Girl.
By that logic, Arkham Horror (or any other cooperative game) is not a game, because the players are not in conflict. Dungeons and Dragons is usually not a game, because the players are adventuring together. It seems like you are saying that only PvP games are games.

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Date: 2012-05-30 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ian-tiberius.livejournal.com
(continued)

So a D&D campaign isn't just telling a story?

No, it's also a game. A D&D player has goals to pursue which are not in perfect union with everyone else's, obstacles established (either by another player or by the GM) which may keep him/her from achieving those goals, and the ability to influence the (quantifiable) outcome. That constitutes a game. But remove any of those three elements and it's no longer a game (in my definition. I cheerfully concede that others are welcome to their own definitions of "game.")

Final Girl: at any given time, no player has both the ability to influence the outcome and a goal other than storytelling. Not a game.

Infocom-style interactive fiction: goals (finish the game), obstacles established by the programming of the game, and the ability of the player to affect the outcome. Game.

Fat Man Down: To the extent that I understand it, it seems as though the players' "goal" is to humiliate the Fat Man. The outcome of that does not seem to be quantifiable. Therefore, not a game. (Hell, it's the definition you cited that DQ's this one.)

Just my opinions. Remind me, why are we arguing over the distinction of what is or isn't a game?

Date: 2012-05-29 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
Some people (named Aaron) have denigrated the idea that LARP is merely (?) an enjoyable pastime. It is Art with a capital A. I don't have a problem with that, except that in its extreme form Art becomes Pollock and Rothko. You're a rube if you expect to enjoy it, it's Art fer crissakes. Art!

I think larp as art. I also think that art can be an enjoyable pastime. What I rant against is the idea is that larp is ONLY a hobby, ONLY an enjoyable entertaining pastime. It's that and more. The gravity of a work is, to me, not the measure of it being art or not. Furthermore, there's good art and bad art, good larps and bad larps, but they're still art, they're still larps.

And it doesn't matter what you think of it, you don't have to agree with me, nor should you. If you only play larps because you want an enjoyable pastime, huzzah! There's nothing wrong with that. But if you say that I can't play or run a larp that's more than an enjoyable pastime, or that larp can't be used for something besides entertainment, or that if it is any of those things it's no longer a larp, then I am going to disagree.

Finally, I was very impressed with the quality of the group's role playing, yours included. Yes, I saw you screaming red faced more than I think I ever have. And I saw Christian be MEAN! I was impressed all over.

Date: 2012-05-29 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] essentialsaltes.livejournal.com
I may have spoken (or written) a little too quickly, or left out some steps.

If you only play larps because you want an enjoyable pastime, huzzah!

I think this does correctly express my motivation for larping.
I don't deny that it's an artform.
My motivation to achieve fun (a concept that is, as britgeekgrrl mentioned, complicated. Ordinarily, I don't *want* to be scared out of my wits) colors my perception of what is good larp and bad larp.
I don't assume that my aesthetic sense is the only one in the world, but it is the only one I've got.
So when I say that Rothko is bad art (to me), I know there will be people so willing to disagree with my judgment that they will pay millions of dollars for one of his paintings.
And the same would go for FMD or GR... despite not even having had the experience, I am pretty sure I would not enjoy them, and so they would be bad larps (to me). I can see there can be utilitarian justifications for larp as well, such as edu-LARP. I might not enjoy a larp that teaches longhand division, but I can still see its utility and it might be good for its intended audience, so I would hesitate to call it bad, just because I wouldn't like it.

Date: 2012-05-29 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] britgeekgrrl.livejournal.com
Damn it, why is everyone so much more eloquent than I am.

(Fwiw, this. With bells on)

Date: 2012-05-29 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
Agreed to all. It's just a semantic thing to me. I don't say a larp is "bad" unless it was poorly designed. I will, however, go off on a larp I didn't like, or how I didn't enjoy it.

But yes, we're in agreement except on our terminology, but we understand the differences.

And I feel I have to say again that I don't think I could play GR or FMD. And I doubt I would a good experience doing so.

I think I should post my reflections on my Nordic larp trip soon, as I played what I think you or others would call a "bad" larp that I don't regret at all. It wasn't a bad experience, even though it was about suicide.

Date: 2012-05-30 08:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
I finally figured out the argument I think we're having here:

You, BritGeeGirl, and, I think, Ian, are saying what larp ought to be, e.g., "it ought to be fun for me given my subjective definition of what fun is."

And I am hung up on stating what larp IS, i.e., "Larp is an ancient global art form separate from tabletop RPGs and theater."

It's the "is vs. ought" debate. I think. Do you?

Date: 2012-05-30 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] essentialsaltes.livejournal.com
That's certainly part of it. I'm not interested in coming up with a rigid, or even fuzzy, definition of LARP. For someone who is otherwise analytical and academia-adjacaent, I'm really uninterested in LARP as an academic subject, though I'm very interested in creating, experiencing and, most of all, enjoying LARP.

Date: 2012-05-30 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
Right, understood.

I've found, at least for my personal experience, that dipping my toes into larp academia has greatly helped me create, experience, and enjoy larps. I admit that most of the stuff is a slog, and I far prefer to read blueprints and recollections of other larps (the documentation) than the navel-gazing PhD theses. But sometimes there's something in particular that inspires me. Other times it's just the general collection, as I think was the case with STEEDS, which I know was influenced by larp theory.

I consider myself a larp producer and player, not larp theorist. However, I believe that Miles Davis's Kind of Blue wouldn't exist if there wasn't musical theory of modality as a muse.

Birds don't need to understand a whit about aeronautics to fly. But for those of us who aren't creative prodigies, a scientific explanation may provoke a eureka moment.

a link

Date: 2012-05-30 09:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaronjv.livejournal.com
I again encourage y'all to look at this lecture with Tobias Wrigstad, the author of Gang Rape and the first Fat Man Down (first one to play the Fat Man). (http://vimeo.com/10030923)

He is explaining things much better than I can.

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