Archive for the ‘Role playing conventions’ Category

This is about languages, not about the 2014 even or 2013 event. These thoughts that have crossed my mind at some point and if I’m saying this to somebody, it’s more to certain English-nazis I’ve meet on the events.

Knutepunkts are international events, where people are encouraged to speak English, which is okay and great. But also at some points it seems people are trying to force others to speak English. I find there’s a small problem. I go there to meet new people – It has to happen in English, as for instance my German is rusty and Portuguese nonexistent. I go there to meet old friends – Still going with English. Learning new stuff from lectures and workshops – in English again. Debriefing that experience after intensive workshop, or planning with your friends if you really should rerun some Norwegian game – Engl… Unfortunately that is not so easy to do in English. Not for me, and not for many others. I’m capable of some kind of shallow debriefing of my thoughts in English, but stream of consciousness in English – unfortunately I can’t do that and I’ve understand that not many other can do that either. But they’d need that to be able to construct their ideas into form, that they can bring with them back home.

And yes, I know I’m still on that half of Knutegoers, who speak English less fluently, even though I took courses before SK2012, and I just can’t continuously think in English. But what I’ve talked with some others, I’m not the only one. And trying to actively make it impossible to be able to speak your own language in any other place except maybe in your room, if even there, makes me sad, as there’re those who would get more from the event if they were not actively being poked to speak English even when they’re saying something that’s not interesting to othes..

This being said, I still believe organizers should do their best to communicate in English. During SK2012 people contacted us at our fb-page and email in English, Finnish and Swedish (my favorite, must be the burden of this last name). AFAIR publicly on FB we answered always in English, but we answered also to those questions that were asked on some other language. I think nobody should feel unwelcome because they won’t understand public conversation organizers are having, but also nobody should be afraid to ask if they can’t make their questions perfect in English. Both feeling of welcomeness and insecurity are feelings we should try to avoid when organizing event.

During the last a couple of years offgame has become more accepted, and it’s more okay to go offgame after intensive part of larping, or to plans for future actions in the game, talk through the hard parts etc. When we at larps allow that to happen, at cons people are more expected to stay 24/7 in the role of a conference participant, without taking thinking and talking breaks.

I disagree.


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In Sweden some women are considering to organize a larp convention where to play games written only by women. So if I’ve understood correctly, even though all organizers and game wrights would be women, also men would be welcome to participate the event and play on those games.

As a Finn I first thought about this to be “nice idea, but definitely not something Finnish larp scene needs, as about 2/3 of us are women”. After thinking about it the whole day, I realized that even though I wouldn’t organize such event myself, nor would I ditch the men I usually work with to accomplish some kind of equalityish goal, I can easily understand why event like that would be needed anywhere.

I make simple example with our national roleplaying, larping, card gaming, board gaming and miniature gaming convention Ropecon. Ropecon has been held every summer for last 20 years. I counted the organizers from the webpages or program booklets for last 4 events, so all information is more or less public and I’m not using inside info here. I counted each year separately, so yes, for instance I was counted more than once as I’ve participated in organizing the 3 times in four years. About 35 % of the organizers (N=140) were female, so about every third. Yes, that’s smaller numbers than estimates of how many larpers are female, but there’re the card and board game organizers and other reasons why it really is understandable why there’re more men there. From the 13 main organizers of those 4 years, only one was female. That’s 8%. Yes, next year is the first time that more than half of the main organizers are female, as three of four main organizers are, so after this year the number of last five years will be 23%.

But that makes a point that even though we have plenty of skillful women and men, still men more often try reach to the top on the organizing level. I tried to quickly go through Finnish larp calender to make some kind of statistics from there, but really couldn’t come up with any easy numbers of how many of the organizers are men and how many are women as I didn’t know who to count, all who write characters, or also those who do only webpages or food etc, besides not all games state all organizers publicly. Still I have a feeling that in games that have teams of 3-10 game masters, men more often are main organizers than they “statistically” should be. Same with the language of mathematics: Y/(X+Y) of main organizers > than Y/(X+Y) on all game masters. Y is male, X is female.

And that’s what we should change. That all roleplayers, also female, would trust on their own skills to run the show. May the “show” be a larp, a larp campaign, a convention, a roleplaying game book, or what ever. And making a convention (or a book!) around games written by women, (woman defined one way or another,) would make a great example that also women can do every single bit that it takes to make a convention.

Solmukohta 2004 and 2008 AWiFs included were both done by 33 % of organizers being female, when Solmukohta 2012 was organized, 78 % of organizers were female. (Couldn’t come up with any facts about 2000, except main organizers.) Each team containing 9 to 12 organizers, 2000 and 2012 have been organized with female main organizer(s), 2004 and 2008 as male, so I guess I can easily blame that SK is more gender balanced and that on those circles people let their gender affect less on what they could achieve. At least I got only once during my organizing year dealt inappropriately because of my gender, so it’s easy to assume, that that one person is just a moron.

During the last 15 years I’ve done enough different kinds of projects in Finnish larp scene. So at least these days I get enough space to do stuff I want as it is, but I believe not all women do. That’s why even though I still prefer to do larps with people I enjoy working with, both women and men, I give my full support on organizing events by only female larp wrights and producers also as statement needed.

We organize run of Mad about the Boy in ten days. Game has 28 female characters and one man. But I wouldn’t call that larp really a feminist one, as the game is quite much about missing the important men characters had in their lives, nor is the game chauvinistic, as women are still able to survive without men. I consider the game more to be something that raises peoples understanding and awareness of the gender issues. As we only have guts to one run, we decided to go with a mixed gender game. As this is first touch to many of the players to the Nordic Larp, I really much like to keep it inclusive for all interested players, regardless of their gender. Also it’s not organized by women. The core team includes me and two guys, who I enjoy working with. There’re also some more persons helping: one or two guys with Black Box light and sound, and one with food, also a couple of other women helped us design the signing up form, and one other helped us to do the casting. Also we have two or three persons who have played on previous runs, to run the workshops, They’re all great people and I can honestly say they’re all part of the team because of their skills and interest, and they’re not doing less than they could, because of their gender. Larpwise I’m in a really great position right now.

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I’ve had not much to write. Solmukohta 2012 was lovely, I’m still proud of it after a year, just talked about it with Laura. How ever because stuff that happened behind the scenes (like it always does) I completely lost my interest to keep myself connected to what was happening in Nordic larp scene. I know that Jiituomas had his dissertation. And Markus too. There was (and is) Nordic Larp wiki, that I never got interested enough to write stuff, or even read it. I went to Knutepunkt this year without really knowing what is alibi in roleplaying sense. And I hadn’t read Lizzie Stark’s Leaving Mundania.

I’ve played larps and roleplaying games more actively than in years. As Jiituomas moved to Helsinki metropolitan area, I could participate his biweekly rpg-campaign, just like I did when we both lived in Turku, this time WoD. And it has been great fun! And we kicked Helsinki Roleplaying Factory up and running with Suviko, Santeri and MaijaKo, it has been really nice too. But I really haven’t had any of that inner flame that makes me spend hours in the middle of night to read roleplaying related books, homepages of Scandinavian or German larps that I can understand with some help from dictionaries. I have had absolutely no interest to listen larp podcasts Claus has been making. And so on.

So personally biggest reason to sign up for KP2013 was to get back to mood of doing stuff. And even more importantly, getting back to being interested of stuff others do, as my strength doesn’t really lie on artistic side of roleplaying, but more in a daily bread that needs to be done.

The event itself was different from others as one of the personal themes was feeling somewhat offended and then feeling guilt of feeling that. Every night I very Finnishly got a bit tipsy with half a (small) bottle of vodka, went sleep around two when I realized I wasn’t having fun anymore and it was not worth trying to desperately to get back to funzone. And woke up for breakfast. So I managed to participate program most of the day, mostly trying to find out what had happened during the last 12 months. And pretty amazing things had. Like Mad about the Boy – American run, Celestra, Palestanian larp, Larpwriter Summer School and so on. And somehow I stared to get the right mood back. These guys are doing interesting projects and even though I can’t or even want to be part of all of them, I surely want to read more about them. And I want to be part of organizing committee of the Helsinki Roleplaying Factory summer con, and produce Mad About the Boy rerun in Helsinki next winter, and host a Helsinki edit-a-thon for Nordic Larp wiki next month. And so on.

So my personal Nordic Larp Depression starts to be over. Luckily. Project for next week: Gym with Claus’s larp podcasts.

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Ropecon is over and I’m still healthy, as I were after Solmukohta too. I know it won’t work like that always, but I happen to get these days myself ill much less often than before. As I still get out of breath in stairs, so it can’t be because I’m in such a good shape or anything.

I will now describe what I do.

Two to three weeks before the event I start more actively to remember to take my vitamins daily. And remember to do so during and after convention too. If I get any, even a small flue, I will go to doctor to check it, and if needed, take antibiotics to remove the cause, so there’s smaller chance that any unwanted bacteria would be left on by body. Usually I exaggerate the length of my “sickness” a bit, so they will check the lungs, ears and cheaks (maxillary sinus) to see everything is fine.

I also take my daily lactic acid yogurt to keep my stomach more stable. During these events and weeks before one usually drinks way more often than normally and sometimes catch less sleep. Not maybe to get drunk, but drink one or two at least. And those you can feel the next day, so taking care of stomach makes at least me feel much less stressed.

But more important part than chemicals, is one’s own attitude. I’ve done my best to take it easy. These conventions should be fun and even though it’s nice to feel irreplaceable, it’s also the attitude that leads to the stress. Half of the organizers I know are the type that run in circles, sleep under info desk and go on by caffeine. And it’s okay, if you enjoy it, during and after convention, but it’s not really needed. You can always find a replacement for yourself for half of the convention, usually you can just make your own timetables so that you’re free half of the event. Nobody needs you if you’re not there.

Before Solmukohta I had my SK-working hours, when I answered emails, wrote visa invitation letters, updated the home pages and so on. When the event was closer, I did it of course daily, but I always had time off so I could go to gym or movies, read a book, have dinner or what ever so that I didn’t feel need to think or talk about Solmukohta. I also at parties a couple of times asked if we could talk about something else, which worked perfectly, so my life didn’t circle too much around SK.

Participant of organizer, during the event just sleep as long as you can. You might miss 4 morning hours of convention and breakfast, maybe one great program item and those sandwiches that they still talk after three years, but you will get so much more from the rest of the convention. If you have to do something at 12, you can go afterwards somewhere to take a nap.

If you’re a program organizer, but not very experienced one, ask your program items to be at the beginning of the convention, then you don’t have to stress about it whole convention.

Learn to admit your mistakes. Okay, something went wrong, instead of finding publicly or privately the one to blame, just say you’re sorry and will do your best not to see it happen again. They won’t think you’re an idiot for that, but you don’t have to gather so much negative energy. Shit happens, so what?

Of course the whole taking it easy -thing is hard to learn, but I would point out that I get more our from the conventions this way and I doubt that the over performing doesn’t make it any better.

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Somebody asked why I haven’t been writing anything. It’s not really that I’d been busy, it’s mostly that I’ve had nothing to say that I’d like to say publicly. Of course I can praise my Solmukohta team. They’re wonderful, they’ve done their best and I wouldn’t change any of them. I would have done better myself a couple of times, but it’s not really stuff that shows out, it’s just stuff that I feel bad myself, as I acted against my principles on some small matters.

I’ve never been good at anything related to larping. I’m a bit better writer in Finnish than an avarage larper and I proofread Finnish quite well, but they’re both unnecessary skills considering Solmukohta. How ever in volunteer working I believe the most important part is to see the potential in other people. How they could be used to make the event better and other organizers burden smaller. May it be a program item they might hold, photographs they could take, work shift they’d do, free pencils they can provide or what ever. Finding that something from others is a skill that has slowly grown during the years of Ropecon, that I’ve not really realized having. But these days I never end up on situation where I wouldn’t know who to ask to do something. (And luckily there’re plenty of people to do those small little favors, just check how many proofreaders we’ve had. ❤ )

And it's also talent to remember that no-one is unreplaceable and nobody should be. I'm not replacing anyone, as said at the beginning. But people fall ill, life situations change. Hell, I even had a replacement plan for myself, if I'd fallen badly ill.

I've started to see the normal nightmares of nobody showing up on event or somebody madly yelling to me on the stage that this is the worse event ever (my normal event organizing nightmares), but no night has Solmukohta stressing kept me awake. I've been able to do my job, school, lose over 10 kilos by diet and exercising and keeping my love affair as great as ever.

I've come to the conclusion that the attitude and capability of seeing the potential in others are my best talents in doing any volunteer projects, not just Solmukohta.

(Oh. I also read from the internet that I killed the Nordic larp democracy by letting the event fill up that fast. I'm sorry, it was an accident.)

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