LARPing safely

I’m talking LARPing with emotional safety here.

This came up because I was explaining some things about LARP to Anna, who has only participated in one roleplaying game (tabletop) in her life and it’s because I made it happen XD. I mentioned something which I’ve had trouble expressing before. The concern I have for my friends following a LARP event when I see posts for days about how hard it is to let go of the character, or how they’re still grieving for a thing that happened during the game, or how they hate the real world and want to go back to the world of the game instead.

Now, these things are of course totally normal reactions – LARPing is by nature immersive and one of the appealing things about it is that you can experience dramatic, emotional things without it ‘really’ happening to you. You can have the pain of grief or the ecstasy of love, or the difficult conversations that would be awful if it was real life but you’re playing a role so it’s okay.

But what if we’re not doing those things in a safe way. And I don’t mean physically safe here, I mean emotionally safe. The interesting thing is that when I talked to Anna about this she had a simple question ‘what do you do to get out of character?’ and I tried to think and couldn’t honestly think of anything.

Because as a teacher, Anna is super mindful of the well being of the kids in her class, and every time they do drama exercises or roleplaying (especially when it’s dramatic stuff, like about bullying) they do an exercise to get themselves consciously out of character at the end. It can be as simple as ‘walk around the chair, and when you’re done you’re yourself again’. This is especially important with children to delineate that the ‘bad’ things they may have been doing in the game shouldn’t continue to be acted on, and that those actions weren’t ‘them’.

And okay, the LARPers in Wellington/New Zealand aren’t all 8 year old kids, but the fact is that we need to be careful with ourselves and with others and maybe we’re not doing that as much as we could be. The last time I played World That Is I had a traumatic in character experience and found myself crying real, panicked tears for a couple of minutes. I remember thinking to myself ‘wait, this isn’t real. Fraser – your friend – isn’t actually dead’ and I was able to rein myself back in and play the character instead of actually freaking out. I can’t get into the heads of other players, so I don’t know if everyone has these little checks, or maybe they don’t go as far as that all the time.

What I’m suggesting is an increase in mindfulness and conciousness of the people around you, the effect you’re having on them and the effect they are having with you. I know some of my friends have come up to apologise to me in advance of a game, for what they will be acting like – and those same friends checking in with me afterwards. That is incredibly important, because it’s giving me trust in them. They’re saying ‘look, some shit might be about to happen, but I care about you and I’ll make sure you’re okay’.

This is tied also to the ability to call time out on something which is genuinely distressing you so that you can have a breather. Players can do this at any time, but to be able to do this without a measure of shame that you’re somehow breaking the scene for other players is not always easy.

Debriefs are super important, and I don’t think I’ve ever run a LARP where I’ve given them enough thought or care. Usually I’ve used it as a chance to get people to reveal their secrets, share some jokes and that’s it. I remember seeing a suggestion somewhere that you give players five minutes to go and talk to other players and just share something neat that you did, or something emotional that happened. Maybe this could be extended to ensuring you check in on the people you interacted with.

LARP emotion can be faked but it can also be indistinguishable to emotions you would have in real life. This is why it’s important to be aware of what you’re experiencing and ensuring that you’re not going to have repercussions from it as you go about your ordinary life.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be a group experience either. I’m sure not everyone is comfortable with too much talk about feelings with others, or spending too long mingling at the end of a game. In which case there’s nothing to stop you doing something inside your head, or on paper. I’ve found it helpful to do free writing in the form or a diary entry or a fic about my character. Or just sitting and reminding myself of what my real life is and letting go of the character. After the drama of the last World That Is game I got on skype and rehashed the whole thing with Anna, which as extremely cathartic for me!

LARP consists of space and time to experience things deeply and this should be followed by a time of separation: consciously taking yourself out of character, processing what you thought and felt, and letting it go. I know that the LARP community cares about each other, and that means taking care of each other out of the game as well as in it.

I found this neat article about post game debriefs and I’m sure there’s a lot more writing on similar stuff around. Feel free to link in the comments if you’ve read helpful things. I feel very strongly that this is important thing to think about.

Whatever it is you need to do, I urge you to do it ! (also this got long. Add comments, I want to know what you think. Have you got any little tricks that you do? Or methods of coping?)

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Antidotes to Monday

I’ve had such a Monday-ish Monday

I tried to go back to sleep after my alarm, I spilled my hot chocolate, I’ve dropped food on the floor and on myself. And… I’ve had my underwear on backwards all day. I thought there was a chance that you may have had a similar kind of day, so here are my antidotes and possible suggestions for salvaging the last of the day.

Yank something out of the ground! I came home and went ballistic on the parsley in the herb garden. I yanked plants right out of the ground and chucked them away. I could see a gap, where I’d removed the gorram parsley. Success! Destruction! Contained kaiju-ing! well, maybe that last one is pushing it but… it felt good, is what I’m saying.

Music! Put on the album you most want to listen to right now. It’s as simple as that. Listen to the music you want to listen to right now.

Comfort food! Look, it’s okay to indulge yourself as long as you’re not doing all the time. For me comfort food is a soft boiled egg and toast soldiers. Simple! That’s my dinner tonight :3

Self esteem boost! Take a picture of yourself looking as good as you can, and send it to someone who thinks you’re amazing. Or! Post it online, maybe you’ll get some nice comments. Again, I really don’t think there’s any problem with this kind of thing as long as you don’t do it too often.

comfy clothes! Get into pajamas stat! Or whatever your most comfy slob about the house clothes are. It feels so much better…

Be still! depending on your circumstances this may be easier said than done. But even if you can get a minute to yourself, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply and just think about nothing. Think about the sound of your breathing and let go of any tension in your body.

Let it all go.

Things I Love Thursday

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Shark fins in the harbour again, Wellington is pretty. I love the colours the harbour goes…and then of course we had a stunning sunset earlier this week.

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Wonderful people. I’m forever grateful for the lovely people I have in my life, for the things they do and the way they are. I also love that when people I like leave my life, the universe brings new and equally wonderful people to replace them. I feel blessed.

Christmas: Making things to give away, contributing to collections for charity and doing leg work for them. It’s the best part of the christmas season, to me, that and being with people I love.

Honourable Mentions: my 500 movies project, playing Pokemon, talking to people about pokemon, hilarious LARP, channeling fictional characters strong than myself, decorating for Christmas… this entry is a bit hard today, I’m tired out and I keep being distracted. Please add your own things you’re thankful for below to pad things out 🙂

Things I Love Thursday

One piece of advice, although honestly, that whole blog. Humans of New York opens up my heart and I find myself loving total strangers just based on a picture and a quote… so, I recommend it. It kind of feels like it’s reminding me to think about things outside of my own head, and to accept people.

I asked my friends for more music again and I thoroughly enjoyed their suggestions. I’m all about people recommending me songs now, so please go ahead and do it here too if you want? I made this playlist and also this playlist with heavy support from lovely people.

People. Okay so this relates to the above very strongly, but I had a super-social Saturday which reminded me that I am an extrovert and I do get energy from being around people. Catching up with old friends and making new ones, enjoying Chinese food and (at a different event) alcoholic ginger beer, and then roleplaying with a new group. It’s good for my soul.

Honourable Mentions:Wispa bars from Mighty Mart, dreaming of delicious French cuisine, excellent comics and graphic novels, doing new things, lego minifigures, my awesome new glasses and their sun tint abilities, fresh burgers, receiving love right when you need it (without having to ask), cherry chapstick, watching tv with my flatmates, cleaning house, being friendly to people in service roles and seeing genuine smiles in return, being told I’m doing well and loving new music.

Another Night on Earth by The Veils

Sunday Crafting

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Well, my affirmations are all completed and today I spent a couple of hours assembling them all into a quilt. When I was thinking about how to border it I remembered that I had a stack of charm squares from a previous fabric order many months ago.

So I made them into a border and there were exactly enough to go right around the quilt with nothing left over. Must have been meant to be!

My quilt is bright and colourful and full of love, and I’m very happy with it.

This week I’ll put it together with batting and backing and it shouldn’t take too long to quilt and then I can hang it on the wall above my bed!

Phew!

Things I love Thursday

“When you start putting pen to paper, you see a side of your personal truth that doesn’t otherwise reveal itself in conversation or thought.”
― Anthony Kiedis, Scar Tissue

I’ve spoken to a few people who really hated Anthony Keidis’s memoir and I can understand that. It is kind of a cycle of ‘I got high, I banged a girl, I got high, I did a show, then I fell in love and had sex with a girl’ but… if that doesn’t bother you, or if you can look past it, there’s a lot to love about this memoir. Anthony has been through a lot of crap and he has learned (slowly, eventually) how to find peace within himself. I liked it, and I found especially the last chapter to be really beautiful.

I love my job. Being a test analyst is super rewarding and exciting to me. I picked up a case yesterday and then when I tried to work out the plan for how to test it I realised that it’s a really huge, super large case which will take ages… and that’s exciting because it’s working things out and making connections in my head and yeah. I like it.

Humans of New York is really rather lovely.

Sharknado! Getting a group together, attending a ridiculous Syfy shark movie at the movie theatre… eating ice cream… it was ALL AWESOME. Laughed until I cried several times, planned the table top game in my head, and have a great new RP character to inflict on people.

Diary of a LARPer is still going strong, curated by the lovely Ellen and with looots of submissions from me.

Honourable Mentions: rewatching Smash and reconnecting with the music from it, candy, craft, sleep, dreaming and warm socks. Ice creams. Chicken soup.

My songs are maybe not as cheerful this week, but I love them.

Love is Blindness ~ Jack White (covering U2)

Last Song ~ Jason Webley

Things I Love Thursday

When you’ve been laid up in bed two days it’s kind of hard to see the bright side of things, especially this morning when I really legitimately wanted to go to work but my head got fuzzy when I stood up for longer than the length of a shower.

Also there was a huge earthquake last week and it freaked me out.

BUT!

There is still a lot to love.

Flatmate-Date with Ellen to Mother Brown’s and then Te Papa for the Warhol exhibition. Quite in love with two of his works now which I hadn’t been familiar with before the exhibit: Silver Clouds installation (giant silver pillows some helium filled, in a room with fans blowing. And his picture of Keith Haring and his boyfriend cuddling. I adore Keith Haring so much ❤

Spreading the Welcome to Night Vale virus love. It’s just a really good podcast guys! I loooove it.

My bedroom: Okay it’s not perfect, but what I have realised is that I’m happy to spend extended periods of time in here. I have lovely big windows that let in light and a view of trees and the sunset (right now) and I can hear birds chirping. The room keeps heat in relatively well and I have enough room on my bed to spread out the larp props I’m working on and still take a nap if I want to. Environment means a lot to me, especially when I’m sick, and I have a good one here ❤

Reading: It is such a simple thing. But when I don’t want to be upright and I can’t quite sleep yet, reading is the best. I have a lot of books on the go at the moment, but really enjoying re-reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Good old dystopian YA novels, eh?

I do not love distances much, or goodbyes but I am so grateful for skype, and for instant messaging. My Jess ❤ it makes her a bit closer.

Catching up with people and sharing my travel photos. I love to do it. If anyone wants to experience my travel photos, I’m only too happy to share 🙂

Honourable Mentions: Vicks formula 44 chesty cough syrup, my Pacific Rim action figures, new fabric, clean laundry, flatmates who cook, creativity flowing, new friends. Mumford and Sons, Welcome to Night Vale fan art, silly roleplaying and orange juice.