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Larp

Just a Little Lovin’ 2019 UK

So a few weeks ago, I was part of a team that ran the classic larp Just a Little Lovin’, for the eighth time overall and the first time in the UK.

Ingestre Hall, in Shropshire, where the larp took place.
(Although in real life it’s more level than this picture would suggest.)

It seems like the participants mostly had pretty good experiences, and everything pretty much worked as it was supposed to.

Behind the scenes, there were a few problems. The organizer team was a bit short-handed, and some people ended up doing far more work than they should have. We will need to learn from this! But it didn’t, I think, impact adversely on the delivery of the larp experience to the participants.

Me as Shiv in 1982
My NPC Shiv, in 1982, the year of the larp’s first act

Me as Bureaucrat #2 in 1982
My other main NPC, in 1982

I have a complex mix of feelings about the project. When it started off, I was one of the core group of organizers, helping to get it off the ground and to become a thing. But after a few months, I had to drop out, for health reasons. The others did an amazing job of picking up the reins and making the whole thing work fantastically well: but I feel quite guilty about committing to help, but then letting people down by disappearing.

Then during the actual run itself, I also had health issues, which again contributed to me not helping much. So I feel guilty about that, too.

[Please note, I’m not saying this in order to get people to comment saying that I needn’t feel guilty, etc. I’m just registering the fact that I do.]

Ingestre Hall at dusk
Ingestre Hall at dusk

The other thing, though, which is maybe a bit more interesting, is that it’s unusual for me to run other designers’ larps. I generally run stuff where I was involved with the design. So in that situation, part of the fun of running it is in seeing one’s creative vision brought to life. Running JaLL didn’t have that effect: I pretty much knew what it was going to come out like, as it’s such a solid design and has been run several times before. And of course it’s someone else’s creative vision, not mine.

I was aware of this going in, of course. The main reason why I wanted to be involved was that I had such an amazing experience — life-changing, in a small way — when I participated in JaLL myself. So I wanted to help to give other people the chance of that. It felt like it was going to be an act of service to the larp community, rather than something purely for my own enjoyment (if that doesn’t sound too sickeningly worthy).

But even so, it feels quite weird when a participant comes up to you after you’ve run a larp, and says what a brilliant design it is, and you say “yes… yes, it is”, rather than “thank you so much!” I don’t think I would want to do this for many other larps apart from JaLL.

Me as Shiv in 1984
Shiv in 1984, the larp’s third act. He has seen terrible things.
Me as Bureaucrat #2 in 1984
And this one, in 1984, has both seen and done far more terrible things.

Anyway though all that is very much secondary to the good stuff. Talking with participants since, and reading what they’re writing, it’s apparent that for some the larp was a really important and valuable experience. I feel massively fortunate and happy to have been given the chance to help make that available. Huge thanks to the other organizers and volunteers, to the designers, to the participants, and to the whole JaLL community!

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