I’ve been taking part in the Nordic Larp Wiki Edit-a-thons to help solidify our knowledgebase and share the good stuff. Most recently I wrote up a bunch of text on aftercare and that made me think of the things I do after a game to get myself de-immersed or emerged from the game, character and setting.
I tend to go for deep immersion when I play nordic larp, especially with Elli. I don’t believe in letting go of myself during a game, but rather just opening up entirely to the experiences. It leads to some very hefty bleed and a lot of thought afterwards. But as a veteran of CBT I have learned some ways of taking control of myself and my emotions, which are presented below, interspersed with some of my idiosyncrasies that you might not see the point of.
In a somewhat chronological order, some of the things I do to ditch a character and the emotions related to it:
I actively shape my movements for the character, so getting rid of these temporary traits is important to me. What I usually do is jump around a bit and take off on in a full sprint, if possible I go swim in a pool. Pushing my body to it’s limits will sort of reset it and return to a more natural resting mode afterwards.
A bloody good cry
Nearly all my emotions tend to converge on crying if they get intense enough and I rather enjoy having a good weep. After a game I can usually get my emotions calmed and over, with a solid blubber.
In-jokes and irony
Nothing beats irony for distancing, having someone to be ironic about the gamewith is golden. Also, being able to reconnect to the actual people behind the characters through in-jokes is also a good way to affirm the new status of offgame.
Games usually have a very specific cuisine. So on the way back I love scarfing down some junkfood and relish in the superficiality of real life. Preferably Burger King.
I love to use music around larping. I will search for songs that help define my character beforehand and with Elli I’ve explored having a theme song for a relationship, which is powerful stuff.
After the game I will often listen to music that was played during play (if any) and extrapolate a playlist of songs that capture feelings from the game. It helps contain specific emotions. A good example is Dusty Springfield’s Just A Little Lovin’, for the game of the same name.
Once I got the emotions captured in musical form, I will expose myself to them quite intensely until the emotions lose their uncontrollable effect on me, so I don’t break down from hearing a song on the radio. iTunes says I have listened to the song above a grand total of 53 times, which is probably about right.
To get capture the essential experiences of a larp I tend to write down the story I experienced. Sometimes I do so during the game as well, to keep my focus. Sometimes I do it on the blog, other times it’s more personal. I have also done it cooperatively, which was great. I really got to see the other sides of my own story.
For Kapo I anchored most of the feelings in one album of drum’n’bass and combined it with the story to a sort of musical, that only one other person would understand, but helped me get it all out of my head.
My friend Sterling
The beautifully tragic fate of my character in Just a Little Lovin’ was a bit too intense for me to handle, so I began referring to him in the third person, as a distancing act, turning him into an Other. So I don’t really count the experience as my own, but what happened to my friend Sterling from New York in the eighties. Similarly I don’t really see the experiences of 2027 as my own, but instead they are balled up in the couple formed by my character and the one played by Elli.
I have a wonderful friend who does not do norp himself, but is very curious about the whole thing and loves to hear me chatter on over a cup of coffee. It is quite good to be forced to explain a game from the ground up to an outsider, it puts a lot of perspective on it all. Last time around I could really feel it nagging on me that I hadn’t had the opportunity to do so and it was a great relief when I finally got the chance.
Game design deconstruction
As with irony, looking critically on the game itself is another powerful distancing trick. There’s always something to be critical of, if nothing else, the food or the toilets always suck.
I keep a small, but important prop from the best games in a collection of memorabilia so I can reconnect with the experience later if I need to. It’s quite an eclectic mix of costume bits, jewellery and a crowbar, but it all has meaning to me.
For the last two games, after the experience I crafted something I could wear to remind me of certain elements of them. It’s pretty good to have as a meditative focus and to keep the positive bleed a little longer as well as surprise-reminding me of good things. Also an interesting conversation starter: “So, why are you wearing a hexnut necklace?”
The main goals of all these things is threefold: First to get some distance and perspective on the experience. Second to anchor the feelings in time and space so they don’t crop up on their own. Thirdly, to turn the experience into some sort of story or expression that can live on it’s own. Basically, to get the thoughts out of my head and placed somewhere more manageable.
Please comment with your own tricks and coping mechanisms!
PS: Lots of love to all you norpers fresh from Just a Little Lovin’, good luck finding your way back from the eighties!