This year’s annual nordic larp conference was Knutepunkt 2017, in Norway, just on the edge of Oslo. It was my fourth time of attending, which means that I’ve now completed the cycle around the four host countries – which is probably some sort of level-up.
The venue was a comfortable hotel, the food was all veggie, the programme was packed with interesting stuff, and the rooms were packed with lovely people. I didn’t get to catch up with or talk to everyone that I’d have liked to, which is a source of sadness. But there are only so many hours… and I did manage to see a load of delightful old friends and marvellous new people.
I was involved with four programme items myself this year, which was quite a step up from my previous (minimal) level of contribution:
- High on Larp – a discussion about alcohol in and around larp and larp-related socializing, presented together with Sarah Lynne Bowman, Harrison Greene, and Mila Ould Yahoui;
- Upcoming Larps – I did a 5-minute slot about On Location (which I haven’t yet written about here, but will);
- High on KP – a workshop around refraining from alcohol at this conference, together with Harrison and Mila again;
- Theme, Setting and Experience – a workshop on brainstorming larp designs.
Other people’s stuff
I’ll talk a bit more about those in separate posts, but here are some of the other items that I attended:
- Physical Intuitive Workshop, by Nina Runa Essendrop – a really useful practical session about how to structure and use physical/abstract activities in pre-larp workshops.
- Designing for Inclusivity, by Maury Brown – talking through different aspects of inclusion, and how to design towards them.
- Crisis Management: Bleed, Harassment, Trauma, by Sarah Lynne Bowman, Lizzie Stark, Eirik Fatland, and Harrison Greene – a very hands-on session in which we played through various scenarios of things that can go socially wrong at larps, and tried out different organizer responses.
- Participatory Sound Design, by Anni Tolvanen – thoughtful and practical stuff about how to design use of sound within the larp environment so that it enhances participants’ interaction and experience.
- Best of Russia, by Anna Volodina – fascinating survey of some 2016 highpoints from the vast and varied Russian larp scene.
- Larp and Culture, by Jamie Harper – thought-provoking lecture about culture as a social phenomenon, and how larp partakes of it and expresses it.
- Meta Room in Larp Design, by Hannu Niemi – about ways that recent Finnish larps had used a meta room (aka a black box) as a designed-in and organizer-initiated part of play, rather than just being a resource for players to use as they wished.
- Tweaking and Redesign of Workshop Elements, by Frida Sofie Jansen – drawing particularly on children’s games, this went into useful detail about how small variations in workshop activities can make them much more effective.
Add to that a load of parties and other social events, some formal and some informal meetings, a set of fascinating keynotes, and on-tap ambient miscellaneous unstructured talking whenever I ran across or sat next to another person… and you’ll see it was quite an intense few days. Not to mention all the great items that I couldn’t get to because they clashed with my own things.
Knutepunkt is an amazing resource, and if you’re even slightly interested in larp and the vast array of thoughts and issues around it, you’ll get a lot out of attending – the programme is massively varied and comes from a wide range of perspectives and points of view. If you’ve been put off because of an academic image, you needn’t be: only a very small number of items are academic in nature. Or if you’re put off by theory, you can easily avoid that too: I reckon more than half of it is practical.
The social dimension – meeting and mingling – is an important part of the conference, and of course this will push different buttons for different people. The intended culture is a welcoming one (as exemplified by the empty chair rule, the one-hour room parties, and the general tone of the behaviour charter. I find that it lives up to that pretty well – I am shy and introverted, and I’ve found those tendencies accommodated more comfortably at Knutepunkt than at other big games events that I’ve been to.
As ever, get in touch if you’d like to know more! It’ll be in Sweden next year, in March – here’s the embryonic website.