Time for a rest

Today was the last step in a four year process of learning, personal growth and great experiences. I’m taking a moment to look back and reflect.

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It started as a simple desire to share the life-changing experience I had with Brudpris, combined with wanting to graduate myself from making chamber larps to full scale nordic weekend larps. That journey reached its conclusion when we drove off from Ryekol, after running a larp exactly like I hoped it would pan out when I first started out. Wherever I go from here will be a new trip, with new goals.

A larp is a complex thing containing a multitude of moving parts and possibility spaces. It’s not something you can just conjure up with no skills. So we consciously chose to go with a step ladder approach: Rerun a proven larp, with crowds of potential participants, so we could focus on learning the practicalities, without worrying about whether the game design would hold up. Then go on to more creative endeavours with each iteration. We learned how to organize ourselves and divide responsibility, how to help each other through all the clumsiness and mistakes that learning entails.

The first two Brudpris reruns taught us a lot about hubris, how to treat players well and buying enough coffee. I personally lost illusions of who I was going to be as an organizer and learned how to trust that others will carry me if I make my needs clear. I also saw how easy the practical and logistical side is, once you have people who know what they are doing. The execution of the larps was far from perfect, but we made it through well enough to keep going and take up Lindängen International Boarding School the year after.

There we dove into the fiction, writing up 50% more characters to fill up the location. I had somehow gotten the idea that I would be bad at writing characters, but I was disproven in the best way. There’s been a lot of individual skills learned like that. At first discovered randomly in the processes, they now constitute a solid part of my confidence as an organizer. I’ve also become more and more aware of my own limitations and dislikes, and thus how to keep myself motivated and away from burning out. Adding an extra safety organizer for that larp was a life-saver for both us and the players. It was also a good thing, to learn how to alter the organizing group to include more people.

But Brudpris still stuck around in our hearts. There we a lot of loose ends and fixes we wanted to implement, as well as a desire to explore further stories in the same frame. We chose to rewrite all characters and details and move the fiction about, as well as completely revamp the workshopping and debrief parts. We kept the basic story flow and location, since they worked so beautifully the previous two times. Getting to structure a whole community of characters and seeing the players taking up the gauntlet was very intimidating, but it went so very well. And the alterations to the workshop paid off too, the effects I were looking for materialized from my efforts. Players cared for players and everyone felt safe to explore the dark places.

We’ve made the Brudpris we wanted all along. We’ve learned what we could and given the experiences we wanted to share to more than a hundred larpers. The only thing left for us to take out and mess with is the core concept. We’ve taken apart everything else and put it back, hopefully a little shinier. The next step has to be towards somewhere new. A brand new larp. Or something else. But first, for me, a new human being. I’ll take the time to meet it and find out how life looks when you own one of those, then I’ll see to setting a new course for my larpwrighting.

I still have a few loose threads to reconcile with myself, my co-organizers and the participants who’ve gotten caught in the faultlines of our learning process, which I feel a need to take care of. I suppose I still need to learn to balance the disappointments with the highs. But I’m satisfied with where I’ve gotten to. I’m very happy with all the experiences I’ve created for people and the friends I’ve made in the process. And I’m so proud of what I’ve done and learned together with my co-conspirators, Liv, Mads & Mads.

This is good place to rest a while and get my bearings. I know there’ll be more larps and plenty of people hungry to play them once I decide where to go. For now, I’ll leave you with the words of Severin Rast and the music of Anni Tolvanen, which so beautifully capture what we’ve made thus far:

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