This is the neo-tribe I am particularly interested in. Live action role playing being a diverse ecosystem of styles and approaches, as you may now have noticed, I needed to narrow down my focus. Nordic larp is more of a school of gameplay rather than a style. It distinguishes itself from other forms through its intentions and is said to want to transcend entertainment and elevate the medium to the rank of art.

Nordic style games are known for their focus on emotional exploration and narrative as they use the medium to experiment new mindsets and challenge the status quo by making political statements. Nordic larps are often pitted against larping for entertainment, especially pertaining to fantasy with critics finding fault in themes deemed too serious. However, more and more games return to epic multiplayer fantasy games and of course science fiction, horror, film noir genres are all exploited. Despite this, the all-consuming focus of many Nordic larps are near future dystopias or alt-history themes.

Nordic larp tradition was born around a desire to experiment, discuss and share ideals about larp as a means of expression. For this reason, though it is still a marginal group, a tight-knit but welcoming tribe has formed around the practice of Nordic Larp.

 

Who are they?

As tempting as it may be, Nordic larp has never referred to a larp only practiced in the Nordic countries. Though it is a tradition that has emerged around a Scandinavian conference called Knutpunkt meaning “Nodal Point”, it has since developed an international influence. Since 1996 the conference has aimed at gathering passionate larpers to debate past games, create new ones, share techniques and play.

If you ask people in Denmark what larp is, 9 in 10 will know. According to writer Johanna Kolijonen, Scandinavian governments are responsible for rise in popularity in Larp for a number of reasons: social safety nets and funding for students allow citizens to use their free time for creative pursuits, participatory art projects can easily get funding from forward thinking public grants and finally, everyone has the right to use privately owned land. All these advantages fuelled the creative development and engagement in Larp in those countries.

This neo-tribe maintains engagement though a dialogue about Nordic Larp and invites all to contribute intellectually and physically (through play). Everyone is welcome to host workshops, experiment, write, or talk about their experiences and ideas. Nordic Larp is very centred on co-creation and insists that during game preparations there can be no sense of hierarchy and every opinion and initiative is valued. Larp being a physical activity, meetups tend to be in person but many also write about their experiences and experimentations. Because larping is a subjective experience, post-game reports are usually about game mechanics and design. Personal and emotional evaluations are left to debriefs and/or blogs. ■

Nordic Larp 2