One of my favourite aspects of larp is that I get to use tools and theories from a diverse range of sources in creating and playing the games. I’m not the deep understanding kind of geek. I prefer standing on the shoulders of all the giants I can find, rather than building a tower. And I think we need more efforts to take theory into practice, there’s so much good stuff to be harvested and applied that end up rotting on the vine of academia.
With that, here are my three current projects for combining fields into applied tools for larp.
Expanded Body Language Workshop
One of my early “Eureka!”-moments as a larper was a workshop and larp based on theatre-improv techniques held by a local group of dramathurgist-larpers. It really broadened my idea of what I could do as a player and I’ve used the lessons more or less consciously ever since.
It has recently combined with my spatial understanding as an architect, into wishing to understand how the way we use our bodies in space can communicate to others. I did a preliminary exploration for a recent larp, which went exceedingly well and I have now recruited a dramathurgist to the effort. I would also love to find a choreographer willing to contribute to the effort.
The goal is a workshop or similar where larpers can expand the vocabulary of their body language.
Spatial game design
In a similar vein, and building on my Solmukohta talk, I am also exploring how the spaces we play in, affect the game. This is a more directly architectural project, but I am looking for lessons from ARGs, Location-based games and video game level design that deal with the same subject. Plus of course experiences from larps themselves.
There’s some obvious applications for this, the quality of spatial design in larps is very varied. Some organizers deal very directly with this, while others hardly give it a thought. A broader understanding would probably increase the quality of larps, as games are obviously made or broken by the spaces they occupy.
The idea is to compile it into a practical guide to designing larp sites, either as a lecture with excercises for the participants or a book project.
Visual mapping for larp design
Again building on the Solmukohta talk, this is another dive into the details. This time I would like to bring some of the lessons on mapping, from my urban planning curriculum to larp. Mapping is an important tool for understanding, through visually organizing data and concepts. This can be applied when drafting a larp, which is often very hard to conceptualize in the design of gameplay, characters and story.
Larps are often written as text or verbal instructions, which leads to linear understandings and prioritizations. Visual representations of the desired game is by it’s nature closer to the decentralized nature of larp experiences.
I’m taking lessons from architectural mapping of sites and situations, data visualization and infographics, graphic design and project management tools. It is mainly directed towards larp organizers and documentarists. I’ve begun early planning with Eleanor Saitta on this already.
These are three of the directions I am taking my toolmaking after this year’s Solmukohta, I hope you are either making larps or tools for others as well. And bringing what you learn to as many others as you can, we need to share experiences and lessons widely in the community.
Input, opinions and offers of collaboration are always welcome.