More or less a month ago, The Game Kitchen (a London-based group of larp creators who join once a month for creating short larps together and play test them) received a mail from the Victoria&Albert Museum for doing a larp in their November open night. This night was called “Friday Late: parallel worlds“.
For me, the opportunity of running a larp in an important museum as V&A was a dream become true. I think larp should have an important role inside future museums, not only as an educational tool but also as a piece of art (as performances are). For me, being part of these is the first step of that path.
Regrettably, November wasn’t a very good month for me to be an active part in the creative process. I had a huge amount of work and a vacation planned to attend to Black Friday larp. Even though, I decided to join the group and be part of the team who ran the larp last Friday.
Finally, there were two spaces in which people of The Game Kitchen were running two different larps. The first was “Beholder Controller” of Adam James. It sounds really exciting but I couldn’t attend (they were both projects simultaneously). The second one was an adaptation of “Fallen Stars” of Larps from the Factory called “In Storage”.
Discussing in the group which game would be nice to perform in the museum, one of the first ideas was doing an adaptation of “Fallen Stars” by Martin Nielsen and Magnar Grønvik Müller. Playing with old objects was a suitable idea for an environment as rich as the V&A in those things. The authors were contacted and the gave their permission for it.
Main adaptation of the larp was made by Kate Bennett, and written down by Michael Such an Mo Holkar (thank a lot! great job!). The idea was running short (30-40 min) larps with around 10 players in each of them. It was a really interesting so we can manage to run them though the evening and nearly 50 people could enjoy it.
In Storage is about a group of objects all part of the same exhibition at a museum. As in “Fallen Stars”, the objects could walk and talk when there are no humans around. The exhibition has come to an end and the objects were in storage as the museum decides what to do next: permanent exhibition or thrown into a vault.
Participants had 10 minutes, before the larp started, to find an object in the museum. They should make a photo of it and come back. They will play this object. After that, we had ten-fifteen minutes of workshop (warm-up and character building) and another fifteen minutes of play. I hope the authors decided to make public the adaptation as I think it’s really a good job for bring closer larp and museum.
Running the larp in a museum room has its problems. We should be extra-careful with the people playing, as they shouldn’t damage any of the pictures exposed there. That limited a lot the physical actions, but the background was so nice to play in. In addition, we only had one room, so workshops were being run in one part of the room at the same time that people played in other corner and other visitors come through it. It wasn’t the ideal venue but it was worthwhile.
I was part of them team that ran the workshops, and it was an amazing experience. Running workshops for not larpers was really interesting, as you should focus in some aspects that you normally don’t do: how to role-play a character, breaking ice and encourage them to play…
I’m really glad that The Game Kitchen gave me the opportunity to be there. I think people had a really good time playing it and I hope some of them will play another larp in the future. We’re living interesting times for our hobby, and I hope to be here to see the transformation from an outcast activity to a well-known and accepted one. We’re near it!
OMG! I’m back from Black Friday (International run 1) and I’m so excited about it. As they have declared a embargo of the stories until the end of run 2, I will wait to post this out. But being all the week without saying a world about it in public has been really, really hard.
So… what’s Black Friday? Black Friday is an italian larp, the first full-English one ever done there. It was a translation from the italian runs made in. Here you have the general data of the event:
Name: Black Friday
Dates: 10-13 of November 2016
Organization: Terra Spezzate, Chaos League, Cronosfera
Nº of players: 72
Fee: 128€ (standard) + costume rental (depending on your group)
Web page: http://www.theblackfriday.it/
Before beginning the larp, the only thing we all knew about the setting was a small piece of information in the webpage: “Black Friday is set in present-day USA. If not in time, we will take you far away in space, to a remote American town, in a modern-day realistic, complex and technologically advanced setting. A setting we want to live and depict with all its contrasts and contradictions.” Finally, it was set in a little village in Wyoming in 2014 (that was really a pity because we couldn’t talk about the recent Trump’s election as president).
The other clue we had about it was the references: “Many aspects of Black Friday closely remind some American tv-shows. The dangerous secrets and conspiracies seen in “Utopia” and “Homeland”, the whirling uncertainty of “Lost”, and some flashes of “X-Files” and “Visitors” too. Add a pinch from “The Twilight Zone” and movies like “Village of The Damned” and “Blindness”.”.
And it was as amazing as it seemed from the description or even more. For me, it was living an Utopia chapter all the time, and it was so great! I don’t want to spoil a lot about the larp as I hope they run other international editions in the future (this larp is so amazing that everybody should have a chance to play it).
The experience depended a lot in which group you were into. There were three different which you have to join when buying your tickets: law enforcement (FBI, Delta Force, Swat), scientifics, and town people. I decided to play as a scientific, and I couldn’t have chosen best position for my style of play (more on this below).
The game was played in “The village of the Stars”, a rustic hamlet located in Lusernetta (near Turin, Italy). It was in a cool valley, 780 mt. above sea level, in the first slopes of the Alps. The views were really breathtaking.
The village was really beautiful, with its stone houses, a lot of communal spaces to play into, and totally out of “mundane” people. The perfect location for a larp like this. The pity is that I spent mostly all of the playing time inside the lab, that was amazing, but not enjoying the rest of locations.
Even though, I was able to go for an in-game walk at night, and it was a breathtaking experience. The moonlight reflected on the mountain’s snow, drawing the profile of the Alps. For my character, really religious person who enjoyed to be in the mountains because it was God’s creation, was illuminating. For me, it was a memory that will be in my mind for years.
The only real problem with the larp, for me, was the extreme cold of the Alps in November. Even the organisers had communicate that it would be cold, it was more than we expected. Termal underwear was not enough for a southern girl like me to keep warm in the long hours of work in the lab. And in the few hours we went to sleep (I slept three hours each night of game), it was really freezing. The problem is the type of heating that the cabins had, that needed people putting wood in it all the time, and when you’re playing, it’s easy to forget those mundane things. Saturday night, not being in game, we manage to keep the rooms well heated and it was a complete different experience.
For some problems that weren’t from the organisation, the larp busses arrived 1.30 h late to the location. That was a problem as we ended beginning the workshops late. And that made them shorter than we expected.
We began with a short briefing about how to manage the guns (black fire guns), the general rules of the larp and how to do violence (realistic fights). After that, we were separated into different groups and we did some exercises around the team dynamics. For me, it was the best part of the workshops. We had time to learn all our names (we worked in a lab together for some years), and knowing the public information for each player.
I want to really highlight the exercise of “the interrogation” where we can ask the other characters questions about themselves. It was really interesting to know about their political preferences, their believes, their commitment to the company… It gave us a lot of material to use inside the larp.
The other exercise that was really useful was a flashback scene where we ought to play how a coworker ended in the hospital for breaking an emergency protocol. It gave us a lot of thoughts about the theme (that afterwards was essential in the larp) and some common knowledge. To all my co-players: DON’T BE DELGADO, MY FRIENDS!
I would have appreciated the pre-larp workshops to be longer (the last one was cut eithout having time to finish it), and having some post-larp workshops would have been great. A lot of people left with a lot of bleed that could have been managed better. But the organisers choice was doing a great after-party full of Italian food (I don’t regret that part at all xD).
Style of larp:
One of my great objectives going to this larp was experimenting an Italian game for myself. In the last couple of years, south-European larpers have been talking a lot about the existence (or not) of a Mediterranean Larp Scene. What we have clear is that, even if we have been influenced a lot by Nordic Larp Scene, we aren’t the same and we want to keep our traits. There have been manifestos, informal talks and a lot of articles in that.
So having the opportunity of experimenting the Italian style was amazing. That’s the best thing about international larps. We can knew each other and share experiences. We can learn and teach. And that’s amazing.
Black Friday was what I expected in terms of play and style. Characters have secrets that you could discover in game. There was a strong story created by the organisers but you could play your part in it freely. I prefer those kind of larps to sandbox ones!
It was a really similar style to what we do in Producciones Gorgona, in Not Only Larp or even in some of the Somnia’s or Snara’s events. So, my answer is yes, we have a southern style, some treats in common, and we should begin to talk about them. I’m looking forward to play Harem in May so I can also add to this the romanesque French style 🙂
Playing as a scientific
So I could play as a scientific, and it was so great! I’ve always wanted to play a doctor. I love medical investigation in larp, and it’s something recurrent in the games I design. But this experience was in another level. Totally.
Marco Ascanio and his team did a great job setting the lab, and the investigation design was so well thought. We could perform blood tests (we put an appliance with a blood bag inside and we could really extract blood from patients and analyse it afterwards!!). We had a book full of instructions of how to perform each test (real chemical experiences in which we should do it and actually investigation them). We had the best larp-made machine I’ve ever seen: the tomography. Running the tomography machine was a pleasure, and it gave me a lot of play with the town people, afraid of us and our strange things. And we have a pc-program where we can put all the data and it will gave us results that were needed for the resolution of the game.
I can’t really explain how terrific the experience of being there was. We worked for hours, and hours (sleeping only three each night) to being able to figure the mystery. But it was great play, and our co-players were so great also.
Now, I do know that those things could be made in a larp. The sky’s (maybe the money) is the limit! We should think bigger to archive larps like that. And the high production levels weren’t only in the lab: the real vehicles had the name of the different agencies, the town doctor has his office with all the patients files, the make-ups… So impressive!
I could talk and talk about this amazing experience (even if I know that some people had a different experience about it I think generally was a really good larp), but I’m trying to be secretive and let you experience it if they make another run. In the meanwhile, we’re waiting for more Italian larps to play on 🙂
It’s not very common than an Spanish larper goes to a Nordic Larp. In the last year, things have changed a bit due to the big Blockbuster larps as College of Wizardry or Fairweather Manor. Before that point, only a few have gone out of our borders (thanks Zuell, Juan, Pablo and Nast for opening the path). But each time it happens, the Spanish progressive larp scene learns lot of important stuff, has the opportunity to mix with the people who created the larps we have read about… It’s undeniable that Spanish progressive scene has learnt a lot of Nordic Larp books and papers, but experimenting the techniques it’s a whole different thing.
And that’s why I decided to write this review from another point of view. I don’t want to talk about (or not only) the metatechniques or the evolution of the game, but explain what I have learnt and how a Spanish girl feels when is larping abroad and alone. Maybe this is not the post you where expecting, but it’s what I needed to write. So here I go.
I finally decided to join The Solution after a talk with the great Esperanza Montero (to whom this post is dedicated :-* ). She was going to write characters to get a cheaper ticket, and she encouraged me to ask for the Nordic Larp Fund (as I wouldn’t have time to write with the wedding and the honeymoon). And I get it! I was so excited about it! I could finally go to a proper Nordic Larp (FM experience was great, but blockbusters have many differences), in a setting I loved (I truly love dystopias).
The doubts and fears appeared a few months after, when I began to prepare the travel. I needed to travel by myself to the other part of Europe, and Esperanza couldn’t came. Was I able to do it? I told myself “yeah! You’re a strong woman. You can do it”. But it’s not as easy as it could seem. I was really terrified of spending a night alone in Amsterdam, and, after, went to a larp where I barely knew a few people and not really well. I felt alone and all my insecurities were stronger than ever.
My Impostor Syndrome was stronger than ever. I felt like a bad larper, that I shouldn’t be playing with the “olds”, that my English wasn’t good enough to be there. I suppose everyone has felt something similar in a point of his or her life, but the fear was paralysing me. And when I discovered that this week I had to move to England, I nearly quit. However, my wonderful husband convince me to go. He knew that I needed to do it by myself, play it and feel empowered. I’m so grateful for that.
When I arrived to Gothemburg, even Marie receive me, I felt so alone and lost. And when I arrived to the larp, the feeling increased. I could say hello to some people (Linda, Mila, Karolina…) but they were in the previous wave so they were preparing themselves to be took into the larp, so I couldn’t really speak with them. I normally need the socializing previous to the larp, I love talking with people, know them… but my fear was so big that I couldn’t. I felt misplaced.
The workshops helped me to lose my doubts and enter into the larp. I will do a ellipsis here as I want to speak about them and the larp in different parts. But when the larp was finished, I felt better with myself, happy to have been able of playing it. During the postlarp party my fears came back, and I felt so lonely. After an intense larp, I really need hugs, having a friend with whom I could relax, but I hadn’t. I have met some amazing people during the larp, but I have no further relation with them, so they were with their friends, and I was alone. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or what was going to happen with me, and the freak control inside me couldn’t manage that. But I finally came over it and I made myself speak with others, enjoy the party and solve the problems as they came. And I’m so happy about that. I push my limits a little bit harder, and I discovered a lot of things about myself.
First of all, I attended to the third wave of the larp (short ticket: 30 hours). That’s important because, as I could see later, the experiences not only during the event but also in the previous workshops, have changed a lot between the long, the standard and the short waves(1). If you want to see an interesting review about the standard experience you could read Karolina’s review.
My experience in the workshops was totally different. For me, they worked so well not only for building the relationships but also for learning the meta-techniques. Their rhythm was so good, and I really appreciated the ars amandi and fighting ones.
The ars amandi workshop was the best I’ve ever done. For being clear, I usually hate the loving meta-techniques. When we have used ars amandi in Spain, is usually meanless. It made the sex feels weird, people having sex in front of other people without caring about it, and that isn’t realistic for general situations. Relating with intimacy, I’m with Karolina when she wrote about it in her blog. Maybe one day I would develop my thoughts about it, but this is not the correct moment. This workshop was really well done, and for the first time, I realised how it could be used for rape, and all different kinds of sex. I learned a lot of how explaining and work the technique in a workshop, and I hope we could use that knowledge in future Gorgona larps.
Furthermore, the fighting technique was developed for the needs of this specific larp. And it worked so well. As the set was narrow, they need something that could represent violence without danger for the people involved. They decided to do it pushing the other by the shoulders until they reach the ground. It hasn’t have to be a real fight, just a way of representing it. It was physical, it made you sweat. For me, it worked so well.
During the game, as it usually happens, they were developed. They set the mood and the beginning point for the participants to use them, and the players use them in the way they are more confortable with. In some of the study groups (2), both techniques changed into something more physical, allowing more contact. But it was ok at it was escalated between the larpers.
The larp began going inside the white room. Inside it, you can not speak or touch anybody. For me, it worked well for the beginning of the game. It helped me to go inside my character and trying to find ways of communicating without words. When we were conducted into the complex, my mind, as player and as character, was totally empty, and full of fears. Even though, the long stay in the room made some people to begin to sleep, or doing some strange things, that didn’t help the immersion. I guess that the experience in the white room was so different due to our own core groups (3).
When I went inside the facility, all was in it maximum point. We were the last group to go into so everyone was shouting, was part fo some of the study groups… It was a shock. That was the larp I wanted so badly to be in.
But I blame myself. I couldn’t really immerse in my character. And that’s something that usually don’t happen to me. It was really frustrating. I keep thinking and acting as myself, as I thought I should do. But not as Eeva. And I hated it. I have one of the most important scenes without feeling it. I was sad and I blame myself for it.
But in the middle of the larp, they call me for an interview with one of the npcs. And it worked so much for me. I realise that I should change my play, become more aggressive (as the character was that kind of) and change of core group. I also realise that I hadn’t eat for nearly 24h, and I cried when a guard says that I should go into the facility with the banana I had as compliment after the interview. I had cry for a banana! And suddenly, I realise I could be Eeva.
After that point, I enjoyed the larp more. I joined the Pack and I could finally be part of something (thanks all the players for that). Physicality helped me to be one with the character. And social interactions were stronger from that moment.
Even though, it wasn’t one of my best larps. I have real problems with being one with the character, and I can’t blame the organizers nor the other players for that. I think it was something inside myself. I only hope that the others that played with me enjoyed it.
What should we learn?
As a person,
You shouldn’t be afraid of going alone for a larp. Larp community is so welcoming. If you want to go and can, do it! You will learn a lot about yourself and about larping.
Impostor syndrome doesn’t have to paralise you. You’re better than you think!
You’re able to made new friends!
As Spanish larp community,
We don’t have to be afraid of going out and learn from others. See how they do it isn’t the same as seeing it.
We also have really good larps and larp designers. Progressive larp in Spain is rich and have it distinctive treats, we should not destroy them!
We should keep writing in English about our larps and doing international larp. We are beginning to be known, and we should continue in this path.
I want to really congratulate the organizers not only for the larp but also for being such amazing people. They helped me a lot. I didn’t speak about the design of the set (it was really amazing!) or about the food (it was disgusting but really well design), as I wanted this to be a personal experience post. If I find strength I will try to write another part speaking about all the other things. 🙂
(1) The tickets of the larp were sold with three lengths; long, standard and short. They cost different prices and they provide different game experiences. The long ticket holders could experience the design of the experiment. The standard holders how the groups were formed. The short holders could experience going into the experiment when all was already settle, with the difficulties to fit into the different groups.
(2) The larp was divided in four study groups that you could join or abandon when you wanted, letting you explore four different approaches to the experiment.
(3) Core groups where the previous relations of your character, so they have a common story and they had decided to join the experiment together.
The last weekend of May I played the second run of the Spanish Larp “La Sirena Varada” (The Strainded Mermaid), based in the play of Alejandro Casona. It was created by Somnia and played completely in English.
The location was the Al Jatib caves (Baza, Granada, Spain). I have been there for the Entrereves, the Spanish larp conference a couple of years ago, so the surpise wasn’t as big as for the others. Even though, it is one of the most amazing locations I’ve played in (including some blockbuster events as Fairweather Manor). Of course, it is not as big, or as rich, but it was the ideal place for this kind of larp
One of the things that surprised me more about the propaganda of the larp was that Somnia didn’t make a big point about the location. Of course, they say it was in the caves, and they provided a link to the hotel web page, but it was nearly all. And it was a luxury accommodation.
The Republic of the Free, the community who we were playing, was a rich one. They have just retired to some place in Spain to create art together, to be themselves. And you can truly do that in the caves. The rooms were excellent, the bathrooms amazing. We have a beautiful swimming pool around which we created a lot of amazing art pieces. And, the main point of the location: the hammam. So, it is a perfect 360º place.
Even if you don’t like this kind of games, the location is fantastic if you want to spend a couple of days relaxing near one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Granada.
The workshops were well explained in the design document. They were 15 of them, occupying all the first evening (from 4-12 pm). During the 5-6 first workshops, you are yourself during the explanation of the larp and its mechanics. Even though, you begin to work in the character personality and its relation with the others. After the 7th workshop, you had built your personality and you are inside character most of the time, even you continue working in some aspects of the characters. After that, the breaks are in character (including the dinner break).
It was a curious approach to the pre-larp workshops. Usually, you are out of your character until they finished. We could work in there the different methatecniques (I will explain them latter), built new realtions between the community…
I don’t want to explain them one by one, as you can read them in the design guide. Although, I want to focus in those who were best or worst.
The character creation was done by the technique of the personality triangles. It worked well for me as I could fix the main points of the physique and the mind of Comrade, the character I was playing.
For creating new relations, they used some different workshops. I really enjoyed playing the tandem, as I could create one of the main relations for my character. I also liked the ghost workshop as it really helped to get the mechanique of that point (when your character dies, its memory remains there and people can interact with it). The flashback exercise didn’t work as well as the others, at least for me. It was play in thirds. Other player directed the scenes for the other two, and we changed after. As the director didn’t really knows your character personality, it was difficult to do it.
The most difficult part of the larp was the “fluid time”. We played a full year of the community in only one weekend, so the times flies quickly. When somebody left a conversation and comes back, time has passed in a significant way (for example, two weeks). The workshop tried to help with that but it was done fast as we had run off time. I think this point should improve for the next run (if there is) so players could use the technique more easily.
After the workshops, the larp began with a party.
One of the things that I loved more of the larp was that all –or nearly all- the methatecniques were diagetic in the game. For me, as I came from the Spanish larp tradition in which we don’t use lot of them, was easier for remaining in my character all the larp.
Ars Marte was the technique used by the community for resolving their violent issues. Fighting was a thing for the grey people, the outsiders. We had a workshop for learning it (people came from different countries and some of us had never used it before). Personally, I didn’t like it. Maybe because it feels extrange if you aren’t good doing it, maybe because it was my first time or because I’m not a physical player. I don’t know. By the way, nearly anybody used it. We prefere to solve the problems in a less physically.
They didn’t use Ars Amandi but they were inspired by it to create a way to approaching each other. They use the code “green”, “yellow” and “red” for indicating if you can increase the level of the relation or not. They encourage us to put it inside a sentence for being less intrusive with the game, but I’m not sure it worked well. Sometimes it was confusing.
Even though, making a workshop and knowing that we have a security code for it, made us feel comfortable with personal intercourse. If fact, without really using it, I had some of the best solved sexual relations I’ve ever had in a larp. They wasn’t sex for sex, they meant something to the character and they truly created a link between the couple.
As I already explained in the workshop, the time flows in a non-realistic way. I found the idea very potent. It improves the larp. However, the workshop related to this has to be improved so the awkward situations could be avoided in a better way.
The Shadow caves
I truly love that technique. The Shadow cave was an in-game space where you could go and take a drug that make you have visions. Before going, you should ask somebody to go with you and guide you inside your hallucinations. Your character could share its concerns with the others so they can help him/her. The other character could chose if they are going to help or maybe do something bad to you. Once you take the drugs, everything that the others (that puts on a mask for non-being themselves) said is real for you. Therefore, as the other character, you could use the technique to implant new memories, help with traumas…
I could use the Shadow caves twice during the larp. For the nature of my character (I was an anchor), I didn’t take the drugs but I wanted to help the others with their experiences. It was an amazing experience.
The other caves
In the Other Caves, the truly nature of your character emerge. So, if you go with somebody and you secretly hates him/her, you should act as a hater inside the cave. It was very useful to deep into the real emotions of your character and his/her relations. Inside the cave, you cannot talk and you should act in a primary way (you can make primitive sounds).
I really wanted to test it but I hadn’t the time for going there. Even though, other character that used them had a very good feedback about the experience.
The waters divine
The Waters Divine was the name for the Hammam. We could use the hammam for four hours on Friday and Saturday afternoon. When you go to the Waters Divine, they have to change you in one or other way. Inside, the characters meditate together, help to improve the other’s experience… Some of the most potent feelings of the larp where inside it.
The archetypes and the character sheets
In La Sirena Varada, the character sheets were pre-done, but you had huge liberty to adaptate your character following the advice of your organizator. They use some archetypes based on the theatre play to help the equilibrium of the game design. I don’t want to say a lot about them but you can have the explanation here (http://somnia-larp.wix.com/lasirenavarada#!tools/c11rf).
In La Sirena Varada, you should go into the madness, embracing it. And it was like that. I don’t want to explain a lot about my character or my personal experience and I really recommend to live it yourself. The development of the larp was quite sandboxy so it’s a very different experience each time you play it (in our run, there were two players that were repeating it).
Generally, it worked so well. However, I must point a little thing. The first day should be more relaxing, art-centered, and beginning to embrace the madness. The second day, the madness becomes the central part and the characters began to realise that the utopia maybe it’s not an utopia anymore. We arrived easily to that point but I think that the organizer’s characters were reinforcing that point too much, so they nearly killed the artistic expression and the joy of the madness. I think I would have liked a final with more excentric madness and not a depressing one. However, I had a beautiful end and I liked the experience a lot.
For me, arts were the best part of the Larp. Inside La Sirena Varada, you can find a secure environment to let your artistic abilities go. People created amazing poetries, shared their favourite songs with the sound of the guitar, danced, photos, write stories…
I can only congratulate all the participants for their amazing performances and for letting me sharing mi poor bellydance skills. I was so comfortable with it and I could create a piece of dancing out of nothing (and it was, maybe, the best piece I’ve ever danced).
“La Sirena Varada” is not a larp for all publics. And it doesn’t intend to be. Moreover, that is one of the main points of larps as these one. They are created for the adult public, to let you explore new facades of your inner self. They are not fun for fun. You should know in what are you getting into, and I think Somnia has been very clear about it (If you don’t believe it, see “the vision” in the web page).
First of all, you should be interested in exploring deep emotions, craziness and strong relationships. The characters are pre-written but adapted to you, so you could really do what the characters can. However, you should work in them to interiorise them. Don’t be afraid, the workshops help with it. Personally, it’s really important to be an immersionist, enjoying really being another person, for truly enjoying this game.
Secondly, you should like sandbox larps, as you will be required to create stories both for others and for yourself. According to the organizers, it is not a truly sandbox game, as they are already written characters and some plots. For me, it is. As there is not an overall story that make you into it. You have to create it yourself.
Finally, you have to enjoy art or, even better, performing some of it. It is a truly creative Larp. It is designed for letting you create and share your creations. It could be a painting, a poem, a song or, maybe, a dance. The other characters are encouraged to listen and even participate. For me, this is one of the best things of La Sirena.
Amazing shot of the second run by Herman Langland.
Finally, Janire Roldán, one of the participants, has made a review of “So, Mum, I made a Sex Tape”, because, and I said in #Feminism. A review (II), I was playing “My Sister Malala” at the same time.
Four of us decided to play this game due to the topic that is funny and taboo at the same time. The game is designed for 3-5 players with preformed characters. One of them is the girl who has made a sex tape and is proud of it but she wants to know the opinion of other female members of her family.
It is a good way to know the evolution of feminism from its beginning through the role of the grandmother until nowadays thanks to the role of the girl. All the characters are strong in their convictions and the way a woman has to live and think about sex and porn.
If you want to play this game, here there are some tips:
-If you are 4 players it is better to include the aunt rather than the sister. It will be very refreshing and a good support for the girl.
-Don’t create tense relationships. Mother and aunt should be sisters, no sisters-in-law.
-We played during 20 minutes and it was too short! We could be playing for, at least, 10 more minutes.
-And the most important one: enjoy every moment and have fun.
Writing about “Flesh” is, maybe, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Flesh is designed by Frederik Berg, Rebecka Eriksson and Tobias Wringstad, and it became the strongest experience of the weekend. It was, even, a life-changing one for most of us. Therefore, trying to make a review without telling personal histories is not easy.
First of all, Flesh it’s not a larp. It’s most like a therapy. And it’s only for women (trans or cis). At least in the way that we played it. It requires a private space and certain grade of reliability between the players. We weren’t sure about how to play it exactly (if we have to do it all together, the times of each action…).
And that’s why we adapted the game in a way we think it could work. Maybe, when you read it, you realised we were totally wrong about it. Yes, we admit that.
We played it in turns. Each of us chose a song, which really meant something to her, so they can, literally, nude their bodies and souls. When we did that, we wrote in our bodies the problems we have with them, and our strengths. We objectify ourselves until the point of being nothing but a body. And after, the other players erase it for us –while explaining why it is not important-, letting us be only flesh.
It was wonderful, and terrifying. We discovered things about ourselves that we had never realised before. We open our souls, and let the others be inside. We broke, but we manage to rebuild us in a new, strong way.
Writing about 6066 after Flesh, it’s hard, because they are two totally oposed experiences. 6066 is a comedy larp written by Elin Nilsen. We played it on Sunday morning, one some guys and other girls had come also. Even if it’s supposed to be from 3 to 6 players, we were 11. I think it is a larp that could be escalated, but I didn’t recommend to be more than 8 (we were too many people for some of the actions).
I have to admit that it was one of the most appealing larps for me. As being a doctor in Archaeology, I’m personally interested in how you can know a society by the things they left behind. In that way, using a soap opera was really an amazing way to point the gender roles problems that we are leaving behind.
On the other hand, it was hilarious to play. We were inspired by the south american soap operas (the most common in Spain) and we translated the title as: “Amor, Lujuria y Desconfianza”. One of our friends invented the entire song of the credit lines, and we were singing it for days.
I have to confess that we played it for nearly two hours, but it was so much fun. The mechanic of changing between the soap opera and the students seeing it, and being able to stop, pause and rewinding was so well designed. Totally recommended.
We found all the games of #feminism that we played very interesting. It was a pitty not having more time on Sunday to play more of them (we wanted to test with the guys the games “Catcalling” and “A Friend in Need”). So we have decided two important things. The first of all is that we have to do them another day. The second one, it’s that the girls will meet once a year, alone, for enjoying that amazing experience. We hope to design our own games next time.
It was an incredible experience for ours (the girls who passed all the weekend). After it, we are like sisters, we have share too much for not having a real liaison, something special. And that’s something that you cannot pay with money.
After lunch, we divided in two groups to play simultaneously. Three of us played “My sister Malala” (me included) and other four went to the other terrace to play “Mum, I made this sex tape”.
“My sister Malala” is a play designed by Elsa Helin. It’s a free form for only three players. In this game, you will play one of three Pakistan teenagers, who can use the Internet in their schools, and the different lives they live and suffer. For that, each of them has two scenes: a Facebook state and its conversation, and a live-role playing short scene.
We only made two changes to the original design. The first one was beginning the Facebook conversation by an actual written state just below the Facebook page we designed in the workshop (we decided not only to describe the photos, but also to draw them). We think that helps to reenact how a real Facebook post is. After that, we continued the conversation orally, as it is described in the game.
The second change was in the short scenes. According to the designer, all the players together have to decide about how the scene will end. In the Spanish larp culture, that is a very strange concept. We prefer playing the larps without knowing the ending, flowing with the events. So we agreed on adapting it. Before the scene began, the other two players (non-protagonist ones) spoke about how they are playing their characters and how they want to finish it. Therefore, for the main character, the entire scene was a surprise, in the same way that it would have been to the real teenager. And I think that this change worked marvelously.
Overall, I think that the design is very solid. It was amazing the way in which it creates a scale of tension and identification with the different girls. I totally recommend playing it if you can.
Mum, I made this sex tape
The other four girls played “Mum, I made this sex tape”, designed by Susanne Vejdemo. I couldn’t make a complete review of the larp as I hadn’t played it. Nevertheless, they had an amazing time and I hope some of the players will make a review soon and I could attach it here.
Mentioning the Unmentionables
After two hard games, we decided to play something more light-hearted. And our choice was “Mentioning the Unmentionables” by Kajsa Greger. It was the funniest game I’ve ever played, especially the first two parts.
As it happened with the other games, as we wanted to play all together, we adapted the game for seven. It wasn’t a problem for the two first games (“Vulvas” and “Dying for a cup of coffee”) but it was for the last one (“Just Put Some Salt on It”). When you play the last one with more than five people, it is very long, as you have to replay each scene three times. So, as the games can be played separately, I highly recommend to play the two firsts with more people if you like, but not the third one.
“Vulvas” is an easy game, but it is so much fun. We nearly double the objective number, so we were very happy about it (after, we continue with it all the daylong when we remember a new film). For Spanish speakers that want to made this game, we translated the word “vulva” for “vagina” as the meaning in Spanish is funnier (Spaniards tends to be more open with saying some words as “coño” –c***- and “vulva” is like a high level word for us”).
I’m not going to explain a lot about the other two games, as they need to be played without knowing the twists they have. However, if you need a funny game but, at the same time, with important issues addressed in them, “Mentioning the Unmentionables” has to be your choice. It is time for the women’s anatomy, problems and needs to be spoken by its names.
After them, we went together again and we decided to play “Glizty Nails” designed by Kat Jones. Glitzty Nails explores the relation between women of different social classes, and how their problems are not only different but also they made them fall apart in the fight for rights.
The larp is for 2 or 4 players, but we decided to play it for 6 (3 clients, and 3 workers). Moreover, as we were 7, two of them played as one (one played the emigrant and the other the executive). Even it is not a problem to increase the number of players in pairs (2, 4, 6, 8…), I highly recommend not to play it in impairs. It is more interesting if you can play both roles.
We decided to make other change in the setting. According to the design, you must play it in a table, as they do the manicure in most of western countries. But, based in our experience visiting southeastern countries as Vietnam or Cambodia, we put three armchairs for the clients and we made the manicure in our knees. It increases the feeling of humiliation, the difference between them. It work so well (even all of as have pain in our legs the day after).
For me, this game was one of the better designed in the book. It was well thought, well written, and it was even better when you play it. You could totally feel how a women loses everything when they abandone their countries to find a new life.
A couple of months ago, I received my copy of “#Feminism: A nano-game anthology”. I took me only two days to read all the games and I was so excited about testing a lot of them.
So, first of all, I needed to figure out how to made an appointment where we can play them. I have realised that some of the games required only women but others require the presence of men to be played in a most interesting way. The second problem was choosing a space. We (as Producciones Gorgona) don’t have a place of reunion so, we need to search for it.
After thinking a lot about it, we highlight the characteristics of the place we need:
Two or more rooms (so we can play at least two games at the same time).
Where we can sleep
So, finally, to avoid paying a lot of money, I decided to offer my parents’ house in the countryside. We can sleep there, it was big enough, and it was intimate. In addition, we decided to go for a whole weekend of feminism games, in which the Saturday and the night will be only for women, and the Sunday the men were truly welcomed.
And we did so last weekend (14-15 of May 2016). We loved all the games we had time to test. So, I wouldn’t focus this review in the anthology as a whole, but in our experience running the games we chose.
Selfie is a game written by Kira Magrana (thanks a lot for your idea, we enjoyed it so much!!). It’s part of the section called “The digital Age”. We consider it a very good way to create reliability and build a new group (we new each other but not very well). And it worked so well!
The game consist in taking some selfies and try to guess what feeling we wanted to transmit. I’m not going to explain it here (you have to buy the amazing book for that). But I wanted to give you some advice if you’re going to run it.
If you decide to use the soundtrack proposed by the author, you can find it in my spotify, already prepared, so you don’t have to made it again.
During the game, we discovered that it was funnier if we not only guess the feeling by naming it but we try to built the history behind using hagstags.
We played it with 7 players (not the 3 to 5 recommended in the book). And it worked smoothly too. So don’t be afraid to increase the number to adapt to the group you have.
Relatos de Ultramar: En Costas Lejanas (Overseas Tales: In distant coasts) was set in Quesa (Valencia, Spain) during the weekend of 4-6th of september 2015. They wanted to treat the awesome time of pirates but in a realistical and historical way. Even the larp was in Spanish, they were prepared to support international players, but none of them came.
Structure and guidelines
The larp uses what they say in Spain “nordic way of doing thing”. This is: there are no rules, you are your own director once the larp begins, and there are some words that are used to control the experience. If you want to read more, click here, as they have translated all of them.
They write a character based on a questionnaire and an individual interview with one of the plot writers. They wanted to give you a character just for you, but well integrated in the general scheme. Even it was not a perfect system, I personally think it was well done.
Plot (Strengths and weaknesses)
We were in Velada, a little island near Jamaica. As a character, you could be a noble (family ruling the place), contract worker(near as slaves but white), free worker or member of one of both crews that have just arrived. Each of these groups have their own dinamics but, in addition, their relations.
The plot was generally well done. All the groups had their interests and problems, and play with them was really interesting. As a “contract worker” you should harvest sugar cane (we actually harvest some river canes), serve the noble table… And you could recieve a whiplash if you do something wrong. Violence (not only physical but also sexual) was a main point during the larp.
It wasn’t desinged only for fun but also to educate about the period and the rudeness of being in the Caribbean in the 1700s. Sexism and women abbuse was a central issue, but it was very well done. They also made a point in what is being old (In the photo, one of Gorgona’s organizers, Shagea, as an old lady who was losing her mind).
Even it was generally well desing, some of the characters remain alone in a great part of the game. They didn’t have enough relations to work correctly. In addition, there wasn’t any prepare scene, so it was difficult to control time and intensity of the experience. But I think there were minor mistakes.
And now, the difficult part: how did I live my character? Let’s introduce myself. I was playing Kidd Shaw, a young worker by contract (16 years old), who was really Anne Clark. She was pretending being a boy since she was 5, due to the obsesion of his father that anybody could rape her.
It was very difficult to play. I should seem a boy and treated like one (everybody new me for a lots of years and never suspected), but, at the same time, reveal, bit by bit, who she really was.
Preparing the character I try to really undestand a gender-swift and made it without seeming a caricature. For that, a friend introduce me a transexual who help me a lot (thanks for that, dude). I designed the clothes to be totally historical and apropiate to Kidd, including breast bandages (they hurt but they let me do some interesting scenes).
Playing Kidd/Anna was one of my best larp experiences in a weekend event. I had an amazing family (my father and my uncle) who let me live big emotions and feel like we were related. In addition, playing with the other servants was fantastic (guys, you’re totally amazing).
I could not finish without the song that was for weeks in my head. Dedicated to all the other players who sang with me in the tavern and to all the organizers (good work, even if you don’t realize now). All together now: “What do we do with a drunken sailor?”