Archive for the ‘Stream of consciousness’ Category

I am, I’m me

One of the most common questions in Finnish larp sign up forms is “Describe yourself as a larper” and I find it really hard to answer. I would rather describe some of my friends, I would probably be able to give more honest opinion about their larping than my own. It’s long enough since I organized a larp myself that I would remember what people used to write in that question, in fact I don’t remember if we asked it even. My answers to that question usually vary. While I do realize that it should be the part where you sell yourself for the game masters, it seems to me as unhonest as lying about your larp experience as a newbie.

My more or less honest answers to various larp sign ups include the next sentences:

“I’m not the most active player, but I do my best to create game for others by sharing plots and trying to take others into my storyline.”

“I’m lazy preparer who usually gets chosen to a larp because people now my name larpwise and expect it to mean I would have some random larpskills even though my biggest skill larpwise is updating larp calendar for the last 13 years. Last time I added a game into calendar was last year, others are doing that mostly, but I’m still visible character in that scene.”

“Hello, I’m Heidi, I hate pizza but I can tolerate it ingame.”

“I played mostly around 2000-2008, which leads to the problem that the quick soap operish playing style very common these days is alien to me, and I feel pressure at some larps, to archive more.”

“I suck at playing unemphatic or stupid characters,  as some personal traits are really hard to turn off.”

“I hate playing romances as I don’t consider myself generally desirable. I’m okay playing marriages though, as in larps they’re not usually about intense emotions but raising children.”

“I enjoy quick and witty dialogue and hate cold and offgaming.”

I generally thing I’m quite capable in realizing my good and bad habits. Why I’m lovely/horrible co-worker/boss/partner/human-being/volunteer-worker/drinking company. But I feel I’m horribly bad as descibing myself as a larper.


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During the last a couple of years harassment and equality issues in larpscene have been taken more seriously, and these days it’s impossible to “publicly” shame those who say they’ve been harassed. So of course lot of bad mouthing still happens, but it happens more privately, not in the after game sauna between all players of the larp. The most common phrase that I still have heard occasionally is how those SJWs/people who are just looking for reasons to get upset (ammattimielensäpahoittaja in Finnish) are taking out all the fun from larping. For me this is one of the most obscure statements.

So the fun has been taken out from the larps. Let’s see what has been done, and how that takes fun out from larping.

  1. There’s talk about harassment so that
    1. People would realize and accept that harassment also happens in larp scene.
    2. It would be easier for people to realize if others might see their behaviour harassing.
    3. It would be easier for people who feel uncomfortable in a situation to say no / stop the situation.
    4. It would be easier for other people spot harassment.
    5. It would be easier for other people to intervene if they see something that is or might be harassment.
  2. There’s talk about minorities in larp scene so that
    1. People would realize how large part of larpers is part of some minority, and how easy it is to accidentally forget them in game design.
    2. They would feel welcome also in larps.
    3. GMs would be able to design larps so that the minorities would either not need any special arrangements, or that those arrangements had been thought over already before.
  3. There’s talk about equality in casting so that
    1. People would realize that not everyone gets the same opportunities in larps.
    2. Everyone would get to play characters they’d love to. Not maybe always, but so that significant characters were not cast to same players time and time again, but everyone despite their looks, age, experience, gender, activity in the scene etc. could have the experiences they’re looking for.
  4. There’s talk about alcohol because
    1. Alcohol should not be excuse for bad behaving.
    2. People shouldn’t feel bad after larp weekend because they did something while drunk they would not want to do while sober.
    3. Having it in larp of after party should be a reasoned choice.

So yeah, I’m having hard time understanding what has been taken away. It’s easy to say that “now I don’t dare to approach a person without being accused of harassment”-kind of sentences but truly, this has never been about if you have a right to meet new people, just respect their wishes when they want to be let alone. If you can’t see difference there, maybe it would be better if you don’t approach new people, specially if they’re younger, shy and alone.

If you anyways have players who are lesbian/non-binary/deaf/something else, isn’t it just clever to think about it beforehand so that they would fit into your fiction world without making them some kind of special snowflake. For instance it’s not really a big thing to describe if homosexual relationships are as okay as heterosexual ones, they’re just quite rare, or what ever. That way you can offer all aspects of your larp to those players who don’t want to play heterosexual relationship instead of just leaving them without love life. Those conversations teach us how to enable the experience as majority is already having to everyone.

Yes, I understand that for those who are used to play the central characters, or characters whose decisions matter in the big picture, it might be strange to have a character that doesn’t seem to be able to influence big events. How ever I’ve noticed that those people who usually play princes and arch mages, are also very capable to create great play/scenes, what ever they play, so I don’t really think they would even have a bad larp, if they’d be just one of the crew instead of being captain. Being stuck to the role of crew member (or any other assistant kind of role) from larp to larp, it’s much harder to grow to be that versatile player. And though I admit that there are usually some characters on each larp that GM would not give to a complete stranger, there’re always those somewhat familiar faces, that would probably carry it out just well.

It’s okay to have a drink of two, if it makes you more comfortable to do those things you would like to do also sober but are too shy or undemonstrative. how ever it should not lead to situation where judgment is left on the cloakroom and next day you regret what you did. It’s not that alcohol is all bad and awful, but one should always think beforehand, how to communicate the alcohol policy, and what to do is someone behaves badly or takes advantage of other(s) being too intoxicated. Also thinking of this doesn’t seem to me about taking all fun out when you design so, that people would not do while drunk something they’d regret next day.

Also this isn’t an anti-competition of who was the biggest jerk while they were 20, this is about how to make the scene more inclusive and FUN for everyone from now on. So if you have an insight how this all is taking fun out, please tell. 🙂

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I have finally found out why people who claim they do their larps “like a pro” seem to me quite often to be done very unprofessionally.
I guess in IT business (or some cultural productions) working professionally is that product is ready on time and everybody know what their know-hows and responsibilities are. Also I guess it’s somewhat impostant to concentrate on producing something that is different from everything else there is on a market, and advertising it well. Or something like that (I wouldn’t know).

In customer service if you check from my company’s manual I fail in every shift, usually multiple times. It will either take 1 minute longer than the target time to get the food to customer, or we ran out of coffee and it takes over a minute (!) to get more, or I mishear something while working at drive-in. Everybody makes mistakes. What does make me a professional is how those mistakes are handled. Hardly ever those customers leave the restaurant disappointed, never willing to eat there again.

Of course both ways of seeing professionalism share common elements. Like plan well, make timetable, talk to your supervisor and colleagues when needed, ask for help if needed.

What I count to be professional and what really isn’t obvious to everybody who seem to be doing larps “like a pro” is:

1. How mistakes are handled (as they will happen): Explain, apologize when needed, don’t make excuses, don’t attack the person who made a complaint, even if it’s a silly complaint. (I also believe in tone polishing in both work and volunteer work context.)
2. How people are handled. Probably neither working at a low-wage sector customer service or writing that particular larp is their all time dream job, so motivation must come from other stuff than the work itself. So remembering to say thank you, asking how they’re doing, letting people learn and try new things and show what they’ve learned, not just doing stuff they’ve done previously best. Avoiding micromanagement. If something goes wrong, letting them reflect it first and tell how they’d avoid the same to happen again. Only if needed telling your opinion as supervisor how it should be handled from now on.
3. How “reality” is handled. Something good or bad (usually bad) will happen. It is possible to be flexible, without being too soft.

I’m not really interested in comparing if being main organizing a larp is more comparable to a customer service work or IT production. Just saying out load that I at last understand why some people think their larps are very professionally done, while I seriously disagree. 🙂

(Also I didn’t say IT projects are badly managed.)

TLRD: Expecting people to do the same in a volunteer project than in a well paid, desirable job isn’t professional.

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Blogging is one of the best ways to avoid doing anything that’s needed to do, so here we go. Sami Koponen from Roolipelitiedotus, a Finnish roleplaying information sharing web page / blog challenged Finnish roleplayiing bloggers to blog with the themes Why do you roleplay? and What do you get from roleplaying? Last year he collected blog posts about state of Finnish roleplaying scene, and I participated also then, so here we go again.

For me roleplaying and larping both are hobbies that let me create stories together with friends, be part of fiction that gives me great experiences and chances to be someone else even for a day or two. I started with larping and of course there I was  fascinated about the overall experience one gets when really doing things that a character might do. Also Finnish culture of pre-written characters in larps made it easier for me to examine different kinds of worldviews and personality traits.

I’ve never been a good larp campaign player as I really suck in writing debriefs, that’s why the character development has never been something I have experienced a lot. Also due work issues, it has been hard to get weekends free, so to balance that I’ve started again playing table top roleplaying games.

I used to play also table top when I was in high school, but I saw those games were more about killing orcs than anything about character relations. When I moved to Turku ten years ago, I accidentally run into Jiituomas who I knew Ropeconwise, on local store, and after short conversation started playing in his table top campaigns. First we played Polaris, then Stalker. Then there was a break of a couple of years, but when we both had moved to Helsinki area, he game mastered one campaign of WoD, and next we’re going to start a Vihan Lapset campaign this fall. What works for me in table top roleplaying games is the development of characters in long campaigns and how it’s easier to have those on ones calendar, than larp campaigns that take whole weekend. What maybe doesn’t work that well is that as character’s character is usually developed by player herself, all characters tend to be more like me and also in longer campaigns I grow attached to character, so doing potentially deadly stuff for bigger drama is usually out of question.

I started larping 1999, and table top roleplaying games later the same year, and first of Jiituomas’ tabletop campaigns started in 2006 or 2007,  so it occasionally amazes me still how much I get from the hobby. How cool it STILL is to run on a forest with your wand on one hand and treasure on the other, or how upset one might be after a table top session even though it was just your character that almost got killed, not really you.

When thinking about why I larp and play rolepalying games, I’ve also thought potential reasons why other people play that really don’t apply to me. One thing that came to my mind when (over)thinking about this, was that I found it notable that I don’t play spontaneous romances. Even though I’ve larped a lot in scene, where romance, attraction and sexual tension has been themes of larps, or just stuff that happens spontaneously there, I’ve never felt on a larp or on a table top game that I should somehow “fill” the lack of romance in my real life with fictional romances. Playing romances or romantic/sexual feelings that have have not been given beforehand from the game master just have felt wrong, even somewhat dirty in the bad way. Even though I want to try new things and experience things that are very strange for me, I’ve never seen fictional romances as something I’d go for. And yes, of course there’re other reasons also for playing spontaneous romances than personal need for such, but I figured that if I’d ever were to play that way, it might have been a logical time for it when I felt alone.

Also larping gives some kind of experience of success. Not only the times when you’re part of saving the world, but also on organizing side. We voluntarily put together without profit over 100 player larps or 4000 person conventions, rent hotels, do PR web pages, give interviews, book mansions, make food and design plans for large scale events. Those events have been great practice and even if I don’t know what I’ll do for living for the  rest of my life, I believe many of the skills that I have gotten in organizing those things will make it easier to work on different kinds of positions. Also the bad organizing memories, fights, losing friends, extra bills, almost-burnout and other neagtive stiff have thought something, and I’m happy I learned those lessons already at roleplaying event organizing, not at a future workplace. As now I feel that I can avoid some extra drama but also I have guts to talk about things if something bothers me.

Considering I’ve done customer service for 15 years and 12 of those as a manager, last 4 so that I’ve also been general manager over shift managers, the ability to change role quickly has been a skill that I’m really happy I have. I can be convincing, very friendly, energetic, uncompromising or what ever is needed in a couple of seconds. Probably I also perform better at work as I don’t really take stuff personally that’s said (or yelled) to most of my work roles.

So that’s my piece on this. Also my first answer that came into my mind was “Because it’s fun!”, but as I have a lot to say about having fun or heading just to having fun, I will probably make another post about it in a near future.

Also: Advertisement to my Finnish speaking audience: Pauli Hulkkonen is doing his thesis about organization needs of roleplayers and boardgamers. Please fill the survey if you have time!


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It made me happy when people who wanted to ask Ropecon related non-urgent things from me during the last half a year did contact me via email.

When doing volunteer projects where the whole total working time is tens or hundreds of hours, one of the most important ways to keep oneself motivated and productive, is the possibility to be able to choose, when you work on your projects. I’ve decided not to do them (or paid work) in Facebook.

So I use Facebook for leisure, and for that I rather watch cow videos, read how my friends are doing and participate random discussion about feminism, larping and other interesting topics. (And play Tetris.) Answering or organizing on minor things concerning Ropecon that are not even really my field of expertise or responsibility, and that are no way urgent, don’t fill my definition of leisure. And when event came closer, I had like 20 private non-urgent private messages waiting for me when I get home from work.

I understand exactly how the communication channel misunderstanding grows. First when people start doing event planning and such they’re so excited that all that working just gives them more and more energy, and they’re okay talking about it anywhere and anyplace. When they’ve done that awhile, they realize it’s still cool and awesome, but it also takes energy (novelty is gone), and they again start to value their own time and realize that even though they use their spare time on those projects, working on those projects isn’t really a leisure. But communicating it to others is the hardest part. Making sure which ways of communication are preferred when dealing with volunteer work.

So once more, respect your fellow voluntary workers; larp organizers, convention organizer and such, and check what are the official communication channels they want to use. They’re usually written on the projects’ web page. Then use them. May it be email, phone, WhatsApp, letter, Facebook, IRC and/or what ever, use that/them, don’t come up with the one YOU feel most comfortable!

And as I’ve been talking about minor and non-urgent things this whole message I do realize that sometimes there’re urgent stuff that needs to be taken care of right now. Usually the phone is fastest with urgent matters, but be sure you contact the right person, not the one from the organizers who you know best.

(I’ve dealt with the same communication problem at work before. First I was too eager to deal work stuff also at home, then it took half a year of training and now they know not to contact me except if something is wrong and they really need either my help or permission. And even then, they usually start the phone call by words “I’m sorry I contacted you on your day off, but …”).

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