The end of the winter brought Knutpunkt, the Swedish leg of the annual Nordic larp conference, held in Lund. This was my first ‘repeat’ – the first KP that I attended was the previous Swedish run, in 2014 – and also the first time that I attended ‘A Week in’, the programme of events that precede the conference proper.
A Week In is a good way to get to know people – at the start there were only about 20 of us there, but more turned up each day, in manageable numbers before the mass invasion at the start of the conference. It includes a bunch of larps, plus social time, an edu-larp mini-conference, and the Nordic Larp Talks – an evening of brisk presentations on a range of subjects, all broadcast live and now up on YouTube.
I ran The Drinklings, together with co-author Anna-Karin Linder, on the Tuesday – a double-sized version, each of us managing a table full of fantasy-writing academics. It was great! – we had a lovely private room in an English-style pub in Malmö, the players were enthusiastic and creative.
Then Laura Wood and I gave a Nordic Larp Talk – to a crowd of 150 or so in the room, and who knows how many over the interwebs. We were talking about design challenges in On Location – how to make interesting a larp in which the thing the characters are waiting for is not going to happen. It was slightly terrifying, but we survived!
Then came the actual KP. This was large and impressive, 500 or so people, taking over the whole of a rather nice hotel. The previous Swedish one was about half the size and at a camp venue and rather cheaper… there has been a considerable change in recent years. It’s also got rather more international. I would be interested to hear the actual figures, but it felt to me like people from the Nordic countries were getting close to being outnumbered by those from elsewhere. There were something like 20 from the UK alone, compared with I think 3 in 2014. And this internationalism showed in the accompanying KP-book and in the programme, too.
I contributed to this dilution of the Nordic stream by being involved with three programme items. Firstly, a High On KP session to support people wishing to avoid or reduce alcohol during the event, with Sarah Lynne Bowman, Harrison Greene, and Kjell Hedgard Hugaas, as part of the Blue Ribbon Collective. We did this last year as well, and hopefully it will become a regular thing!
Next up was appearing on the panel in a Larpers of Colo(u)r discussion, UnLoCking the Spectrum. Together with Kat Jones, Ross Cheung, Clio Yun-Su Davis, and Aina Skjønsfjell, chaired by Jonaya Kemper, talking about our experiences as people of colour in larp. This was even more terrifying, particularly as there was a big audience. For some reason, I can talk about larp design or whatever easily enough, but talking about my own life and feelings felt much more exposed. But people were very kind and respectful, and I think overall it went well.
Then in the last slot of the conference, I was running a workshop called ‘Larp me happy’, with Michael Gyr, about different kinds of happiness that designers can induce in participants; while elsewhere Laura was talking about the design of the ending of On Location, in the Designer Hour.
As well as this I attended terrific sessions on writing elevator pitches, on larping romance, on rerunning old favourites, on everyday civilian courage, keynotes, and a stack of other bits. Plus the social side – a meeting of the Secret UK Nordic Larp Cabal, various parties, the open mike session, the opening ceremony… it was a pretty intense week in all, but well worth it for the unrivalled opportunity to meet, to learn, and to do. Many thanks to the brave and generous people who each year organize it!