Things I Love Thursday

Having Anna back from holiday is the best thing. It has been more than a week now, but it’s just so nice to have her back. Love my Anna.

Rainbow’s End a bunch of us went the week before last to ride ‘after dark’ in the spooky in the Night Frights late opening. It was so much fun! I discovered on the log flume with Nick that shouting ‘FLUUUME’ at random times makes the flume even more fun, and it also makes the roller coaster less terrifying. Basically yelling ‘FLUUUUME!’ is just really fun.


Roleplaying on our weekend flying visit to Wellington we managed to convince Paul to run us a session of Masks which is a new apocalypse world hack where you play teen superheroes. I played a ‘whatever, I don’t care’ Delinquent teleporter and it was so much fun! Also I think I’m getting the hang of how to run Monster of the Week, three sessions in, and that makes me very happy.

Rock Band 4. I got the Band in a Box set and it’s so much fun.

Honourable Mentions: See’s Candies, birthdays and birthday presents, Face Off, Ribena, driving my car and Nightwing.

Impostor Syndrome

The ironic thing about this post is that I’ve tried to write it a few times and then cancelled out, thinking I’d do it later. I had it sitting in my drafts for ages, unsure how to proceed… then in a fit of self doubt (I don’t know what I’m talking about, what’s even the point of talking about impostor syndrome, etc etc) I deleted the post altogether.

It just took Steve saying he’d like to read it to motivate me to try again, so this blog post is a different format and hopefully better than the original was.

Impostor syndrome. I don’t have it for everything… but I have it for some things that really matter to me.

  • Game Designer
  • Writer
  • Tester
  • Here’s how Imposter syndrome manifests for me.

    Someone: You wrote this game? That’s great!
    Me: Aw, well, it’s only a couple of pages long.
    Secret in brain meaning: it’s not very big, it barely counts as a game! My accomplishment is minimal, don’t you agree? In fact, it’s hardly even a *game*

    Someone: You put it up for sale? Maybe you’ll make some cash.
    Me: No, well I put it up for pay what you want, so people can get it for free
    Secret in brain meaning: I don’t deserve to make money off this because it’s a small game and it’s silly and probably nobody will even want it anyway so there’s really no point in making it a proper price because no one will buy it.

    Someone: You’re a game publisher right?
    Me: well, I only have a couple of games up for sale, nothing compared to my brother or my friend Hamish, you should really check their stuff out!
    Secret in brain meaning: my accomplishments mean nothing in comparison to people who are way more successful/have run kickstarters. Please pay attention to them and not me because I am more comfortable talking about other people’s success than mine.

    Someone: Have you ever written anything?
    Me: never been published…… oh wait, yes, I put some stuff up for sale. And… I’ve been published a few times, in magazines and a short story compilation. Huh did I forget that?
    Secret brain meaning: I forgot I have done super cool things what is up with that seriously???

    What does this all boil down to?

    I find it really to believe that I am successful… or rather, that I am allowed to be successful enough to call myself a game designer/writer. What makes a writer? What makes a game designer? At what point am I allowed to define myself that way?

    And more to the point, why do I have so little faith in my own skills? I mean, there’s a heap of reasons but none of them make much sense. With anyone else in my position I’d go ‘yeah, you made it, look at those games you published’ but I just can’t quite see it for myself.

    I would really like to conclude this blog post with handy answers that explain everything and some kind of handy hint you can take away to prevent this kind of belief in your own life but sadly, it’s not that easy.

    I do know some things though:
    – I can look at the sales reports of my games as often as I want and see that actually yeah, some people do want to buy my games and feel good about that
    – I can run my games for people and see that they enjoy them and feel good about that
    – People can say things like ‘your game is good’ or ‘can’t wait to play it’ or ‘what will your next one be?’ and feel really really good
    – I can look at the positive feedback on my work performance review and feel fantastic
    – People can come to me for advice because they trust that I have the skills and knowledge and I feel fantastic about that too

    Reassurance is huge, and I think people can underestimate how good reassurance is from your own self. You can say out loud or inside your head ‘I did this. I achieved this, look at the evidence’. In fact, I’d say thinking or repeating that stuff to yourself is a huge step in beating the imposter-y feels.

    Reassurance from other people is also super great, but it has to be tempered to be believe. If all someone says to you is ‘You’re great! I love your stuff!’ then it becomes a bit harder to believe it, the paranoid impostor brain starts to say ‘oh hey, they’re just saying this to be nice, they don’t really mean it’, which can feed into the bad thought patterns.

    My number one piece of advice is to just push through. If you know the steps, you can do the thing and once you’ve done it then you are someone who did the thing.

    If anyone has any ideas or thoughts about impostor syndrome, I’d love to hear them, please comment below!

    Things I Love Thursday

    I have a goal this year to publish as many of my things as I can. With this in mind, I finished the running notes for my Quiet Day in the Library LARP, recruited Will for a title image and published it for sale on RPGNow for US$10. You should totally go buy it, or share it with your LARP loving friends. Today I went on a team building excursion to Waiheke Island and I tried ziplining for the first time and it was super awesome amazing fun! Sailing through the air over the treetops is pretty intense but very magical. Plus it was a fantastically sunny day and I went swimming in the ocean! Swimming in the ocean is the best swimming. Lady Gaga performing a medley of songs from Sound of Music at the Oscars. I didn’t cry when Julie Andrews hugs her at the end, you did! Honourable Mentions: The food at Oyster Inn, getting spare room closer to sorted out, people enjoying the Monsterhearts game I’m running, weird dreams, making connections with new people, discovering great new breakfast spots, excellent books, publishing things and sleep! Blackbird Chain ~ Beck

    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?)

    Things I love Thursday

    Feeling like I’m making headway on my 500 movie project, I’m coming up to my 50th movie watched + blogged, which is a very early milestone to be sure, but a milestone all the same.

    Craft! I can’t be too open about what I’m doing because secrets, but crafting is fun and I like doing it!

    I got sick and that sucks but it gave me extra appreciation for the following things: electric blankets, hot ribena, sleeping, getting that perfect comfy position in bed, clean PJs and flatmates who offer to bring you things.

    Roleplaying, went to Day of Games on the weekend and I ran my new game which I then published the next game Four Things. And I played an excellent game of Monsterhearts and invented a wonderful new character I’m excited about.

    Honourable Mentions: watching Father Ted episodes, pinterest, warm jerseys, cuddling my soft toy kaiju, my new Striker Eureka and Trespasser action figures, reading Princess Diaries books, mango sorbet and cookies.

    I like me

    Playing Dance Central got me into this song.. Bulletproof ~ La Roux

    Things I Love Thursday

    Tumblr. Tumblr is much easier than blogging tonight, heh.

    Having someone be so excited to see me again 🙂

    – excellent roleplaying
    – intense emotions and lots of laughs
    – catching up with old and new friends
    – exploring new characters and new games

    It’s all good, I had a brilliant time even if I was completely exhausted at the end of it.

    Wellington waterfront summer market! In between Mac’s and Wharewaka today some food stalls and a couple of stores opened up. I’m informed it’s running through the next couple of months on Thursdays, 12 – 8 and I had a lovely lunch there today sitting out in the sun with Hamish. Pretty keen to grab dinner there next Thursday!

    Honourable Mentions: Tacos, fresh burger fuel burgers, pokemon, sleeping, painkillers, nice big drink bottles which are easy to drink from, twitter, hand quilting when I feel like I’m getting somewhere, my plants growing and talking to people about my 500 movies project.

    Terrible sex scenes. This is an excellent article about terribly written sex. Hilarious.

    More Belle and Sebastian, because I find their stuff beautiful and soothing.

    Kapcon 2014 – day one

    Round one. I ran my Soldiers of Fortune LARP which was something I was a little concerned about since it’s the first round of the con and people aren’t always in a space to game or to throw themselves into things just yet. I needn’t have worried. My group of players were excellent, hitting all kinds of emotional notes and I think my casting led to a new outcome for the game which is something I had hoped would happen when I was writing the thing. I can’t go into much because spoilers and I intend to publish this game, but suffice to say.. I really was pleased with the game even if I was emotionally wrought after it. A huge thanks to everyone who signed up for this, I hope you enjoyed it. (Not to self, having bubbles in game was good, use better bubble mix next time)

    2014-01-18 10.56.37

    Round two. I went into the Games on Demand room half prepared to run something but it wasn’t needed so I sat on the players side of the room and ended up in a game of the Firefly roleplaying game run by Steve. I wasn’t too fussed on characters, so I waited until most other people had chosen and then picked up Simon (although I was equally tempted by Wash). I had an excellent time being Simon and was super impressed with the performance of the other players – portraying canon characters can be quite scary and tricky but I think we were all super good 🙂

    Round three. True Love Match.

    I went into this because Morgue was running it and I love his games. I thought it would be a bit of a laugh. A silly examination of reality tv and the silly people who go on them. With this in mind (and still feeling a bit masculine from playing Simon) I volunteered to be the ‘lovely guy’ who is the bachelor, which left two men and two women to play the ‘girls’ competing to be chosen as the True Love Match.

    It ended up being far more intense than any of us had expected. We all dove into the scenes and the mechanics of trying to do better that it become severely emotional and when it came down to me having to choose between the girls it became so intense… I dunno. It’s one of those things where you needed to be there, but suffice to say that we had a 15 minute debrief afterwards and it was severely needed.

    jennitalula true love match

    Shelter from the storm (the big LARP)

    I was really excited to play a cop in this game, it’s not a role or a type of role I’ve ever been given before and I really enjoyed it. Especially playing so closely with Norm (senior officer) and with Tigger (fire chief) and Courtney (little sister). The game was very stressful, first from not having enough information and then from having way too much to do and people questioning me when I knew I was taking the right actions. Stressful in a good way, and I’m very pleased to have won a prize for this role, this game.

    Jennitalula officer

    My only frustration was not being able to call people out, or do anything to force them to tell me the truth. It wasn’t the kind of game where I could lapse into police brutality or anything like that.

    But it was an excellent game, and that gripe is a small one. A++ would cop again.

    Things I Love Thursday


    kaiju jennitalula

    Birthdays: I didn’t get as super excited about my birthday as I normally do, for a variety of reasons. But I still had a lovely few days of people hanging out with me, giving me things and something like 100 people wishing me happy birthday on Facebook. It’s a good way to be reminded that you have friends who love you, that’s for sure!

    World That Is: I didn’t really know how this session would work, knowing only that I was starting in a position of being relatively screwed, but it went really well. Lots of opportunities to glare at people, deepen some connections and generally have a lot of fun. It really wiped me out though, I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was on Sunday.

    Awesome outfits: I dunno. I don’t often care too much about what I put on because I hate being uncomfortable/cold at work, and I sit down all day which for me rules out a bunch of outfits, but I do get a special thrill when I feel like I look extra cool or dapper or something. I had this on the weekend as Drake, and I had it again yesterday where I sort of accidentally cosplayed Cecil…

    jennitalula cecil

    Honourable Mentions: good TV, lovely flatmates, lego minifigures, Disney movies, weather warming up so I don’t need to wear so many layers and washing gets drier faster and I like hot chocolate as well. Yes.

    House of the Rising Sun played with Tesla Coils

    and Lavinia by The Veils

    Larp vs Tabletop

    Here’s the thing. I love to LARP but I find it too limiting.

    If I want to play a man in a table top game, I can do it. It’s not a big deal, most of my friends expect it now, even. But I’m not limited, I can play my characters male or female, depending on what I get the best feel for as I’m creating them. I can play a teenage girl, an angelic male, a ridiculously tall, buff guy or an older woman whose had several children. Or, y’know, a bunny or time lord or a monster with three heads, no worries.

    When it comes to LARP though, we are all limited by how we look. Especially when we’re playing with people we know.

    Here’s the thing, you can do a lot with make up, and prosthetic but there’s a real barrier when it comes to people’s perception of you… which is aided by your physicality.

    For example, if a player is physically taller and stronger than me, I cannot expect to be able to push them around in game. Being me, there are a lot of people who are taller and stronger than I am, it’s just a fact of life. But it can be very limiting in a larp. Because if I decide I want to play someone physically intimidating it’s very hard. I can dress to look tough/scary/bad ass… but at the end of the day if I’m shorter and smaller than you, you’re not going to be so worried if I start threatening you. Someone bigger can use their physicality better than I can and be more intimidating.

    Character and reputation do come into it though. My best example is my character Drake in The World That Is. Using Han Solo as my base inspiration, my other character homages are Mal Reynolds and Capt Jack Harkness. Notice a theme? It’s tough to find characters who have the same kind of swag, devil may care, roguish charm and are women. And I had no particular desire to try and find them, because those three characters were all I needed.

    But when it comes to costuming I can’t get past the way my body’s built, or how my voice sounds. I can use a slightly lower register, but when I’m panicked I’m gonna go back to shrieking.

    It’s a pain. And a couple of times I have played a boy with varying degrees of success. A couple of times I’ve been asked before the game starts if I’m playing a boy or a girl by the other players. It’s tough, it really is, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer.. especially for the look I want for Drake. I can’t really put on a beard or stubble without losing some of the style I was after.

    I dunno. It’s hard, and there’s no easy answers. But to sum up, this is why I’ll never go down to just LARP. In tabletop I can be anyone.

    Writing something new

    Experimental writing – I’m not that au fait with it honestly. I think I did more of it when I was a student and I thought I could change the world with poetry, and I tried to write a play based on Rapunzel, only the girl was trapped in a mental institution.

    But… I’m writing this LARP at the moment… and okay, it started as a dream (which is not that unusual for my writing) but it’s becoming quite experimental.

    I was trying to work out how to write it up to sell, and I realised that the props I’m making for this game are pretty integral to how it will play out. Well, I hope. You never can tell with LARPs.

    Here’s my fear, with this kind of thing: that I don’t know what I’m doing, and that not knowing what I’m doing will mean that it doesn’t work.

    Now, when I tell people about this fear, that the mystery is too obvious, that the players may not have fun… I am reassured. My friends (who have played in my LARPs) are confident that what I will produce will be fun. They are even looking forward to it.

    I have trouble articulating how amazing it is that people have faith in my writing. It’s a feeling like no other. And that is what gives me the courage to keep on with these props, to keep thinking about these characters, the secrets at the heart of the game and the courage to present it at Fright Night, knowing in the back of my head that it may not work…

    But I hope it will work. I hope Soldiers of Fortune is just as amazing as I dreamed it, that I blow people’s minds a bit. That I can offer it again at Kapcon.