In 2013, my motto was “try new and weird things”. Here are a few things I learned on the way thanks to larp-related events, in chronological order.
1. Running a small high-tech larp five times in 33 hours is both a lot of fun and a fantastic learning opportunity in iterative game design. But doing it as the sole organizer is pretty stupid. (Technocculte, January, Switzerland, more spoilers on page 17 of LARPzeit International 2013)
2. Replaying a larp you wrote 16 years ago is possible, and having more money will make it prettier. Having salaries means that you can obtain your dream game location, that players can rent/buy costumes if needed and cover some of the logistics by themselves. (La croisière s’accuse / Loathe Boat, January, Switzerland, same article as above)
3. The prettiest larp I’ve ever played was not the one I enjoyed the most. (The Monitor Celestra, March, Sweden)
4. Reprising an old larp character is fun and saves on costuming time and money. But larping again 5 days after Celestra was a bit premature due to fatigue and ongoing internal debriefing. (Noces de plomb, March, Switzerland)
5. From leathercrafting to character design, the local Swiss larp scene still has a lot of talent and a willingness to share it at larp conventions. In the future, I should remember to tap into this talent instead of organizing everything mostly on my own. (GN’Idée 2013, April, Switzerland)
6. Nordic larpers can be a fantastic source of directly usable, pragmatic advice. (Knutepunkt 2013, April, Norway)
7. Bilingual larping is possible in French-speaking Switzerland, but it won’t compensate for differences in larp cultures and expectations. (Ultima Necat, July, Switzerland)
8. Doing everyday, mundane activities in character can be awesome. Also, I can look hot dressed as a woman. (Mad about the Boy, July, Sweden)
9. It is fascinating to see what remains of gaming culture when you don’t understand the language being spoken at a gaming con. (Ropecon 2013, July, Finland)
10. Mass larp is more fun when you’re part of a group with a clear creative agenda. (Conquest of Mythodea, August, Germany)
11. To paraphrase French comedian Pierre Desproges, “you can larp about anything, but not with anybody”. The moment you put your game online, it can be seen by anybody. You can have the most awesome game ever, make your teenage dreams come true, make players laugh, cry, and push their personal limits to produce cool performances in an art form they had never tried before. But if your external communication is shitty, people who were not at the game will only see the shitty communication. (Afroasiatik, August, Switzerland)
12. I can have fun at a larp con without attending the full program and without blogging about it. Also, lockpicking is not that easy. (GNiales 2013, November, France)
13. I cannot maintain health and happiness while juggling both real life, larp, and writing about larp in English. Especially when larp means crafting complex costumes or having to learn new techniques to craft them (La dernière heure, December, Switzerland), attending frequent, often intense games and organizing a lot. And especially when writing about it in English means entering an arena with:
- native English speakers from different cultures. They have a better command of the language and I just lack perspective on entire English parts of the web.
- people who are more adept at online etiquette and managing PR on social networks, etc.
- larp experts, professionals and academics who have years of experience in their respective fields, and hence have completely different standards of communication about larp.
As very little gets written about larp in French, people are usually happy when you post anything related to larp. This is clearly not the case in English. Lesson learned.
So, “try new and weird things in 2013”? Mission accomplished, in larp and outside of larp. It was an awesome ride, but the ticket cost was a bit high towards the end.
In 2014, my motto will be “focus”.
Implementation has already started on the larp front:
- I have already refused a bunch of projects, both as a player and an organizer.
- I have neither submitted a book article nor a program item for Knutpunkt 2014.
- I have recruited several good souls to organize GN’Idée 2014.
- I have not set a date for Space Disco 3000, my next larp.
With regards to online presence:
- I have already separated communication channels for English and French-speaking audiences on social networks. Beyond language, each have their own cultural references and expectations. Consider anything posted in French as something I do not have the time to professionally explain in English.
- There will be less public navel-gazing overall (consider this post the last hurrah, it’s still 2013).
- Blog posts will be proofread and edited before publication.
- I will cap their length to maximum 2500 words/14000 characters.
- I will focus more on specific points. Non-Swiss people have now seen a few Swiss larps thanks to this blog, and Swiss people now have a pretty good idea of the content at Knutepunkt, for example. So the “catalog” era is over. It’s time to focus on certain key aspects of each event.
The new and improved ThomasBe.com will continue with a post covering lesson #10 and sadomasochistic aspects of Conquest of Mythodea.
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