I have just returned from Knudepunkt 2011, the annual Nordic (live action) role-playing convention. As always, the five days I spent there have exhausted me physically, but energized me mentally. This is the first part of a haphazard collection of some of my highlights.

Documentation

The trend in this year’s Knudepunkt was documentation. Yes, there were still numerous presentations on bleed (the biggest buzz word last year) and some people even had to courage to still talk about pervasive (which reached its height in 2009), but what really stood out this year was documentation. It seems that this community has gotten excited about writing down game designs and capturing play experiences. Of course, it can be said that I’m just hawking our documentation book, Nordic Larp, which was very well received at the convention. But no, everyone was talking about it, and better yet, it was not just talk: five books were published, two magazines premiered and a number of film documentaries are in the works. And this includes only the stuff that was being done in English.

So in addition to Nordic Larp, there were the three (yes, three) Knutebook published this year: Think Larp, Do Larp and Talk Larp. All of are also available online for free. The fifth book, Outside the Box, is a sort of a catalogue of what Court of Moravia has done in the Czech Republic. It’s so new that I can’t even find a website to link to. Order it from here.

The two magazines are Playground and the English version of the popular German magazine LARPzeit. These magazined cater to very different audience, but both of them are great initiatives. The decidedly artsy Playground is my favourite – and obviously the one that needs all the financial help it can get. They have funding now for a few more issues, but if you would like to live in a world where there is a good looking magazine that discussed pretentious larps (and related phenomena) in an intelligent and accessible fashion, then subscribe the magazine now.

In addition, a number of documentary films about larps premiered at Knudepunkt, Sara Hjalmarsson filmed interview segments for her upcoming Play it Live! and Lizzie Stark researched her upcoming book on larpers.

Larps

Luckily it was not all about looking back. Numerous new projects were announced and marketed. First of all two projects that have been talked about for years are finally becoming reality. Martin Ericsson talked about The Artists, a project by the Company P, which has been in development hell for years. Now it has finally been greenlit. I missed the official presentation, but it will be a mixture of art, larp and television. The other talked-about-for-so-long-that-I-never-thought-it-would-become-reality is Between Steel and Glass, sequel to Mellan himmel och hav (played in 2003). It will address issued of freedom and gender. Neither of these projects have a web page at the moment.

Still, the ones I am most exited about are Projekt Systém and Just a Little Lovin’.

Just a Little Lovin’ is about two groups of friends in the early eighties dealing with AIDS. The themes of the larp are desire, fear of death and friednship. Basically it is the first gay larp in the Nordic countries. Yes, it baffles me that we have done queer and gender fuck, but we have never really done gay.
The larp is played in outside of Oslo in early July and it is organized by Tor Kjetil Edland and Hanne Grasmo. I believe that Just a Little Lovin’ is sort of a thematic sequel to last year’s Mad About the Boy. I am hoping that Tor Kjetil’s Soul Trilogy (obviously it must be a trilogy) will conclude in 2012 with The Windmills of Your Mind.

The other super-fascinating project is Projekt Systém. It is a Czech game drawing heavily on history that portrays what it is like living under totalitarian rule. I heard about this larp a year ago when the Czech delegation presented it and wrote about it in the previous Knutebook, but now they are staging it in English for the international crowd. It looks very interesting, and if the trailer is anything to go by, it might finally be the game that is a bit more subtle about it’s portrayal of totalitarian systems. Projekt Systém was one of many interesting projects presented by Štěpán Hruda that show that today some of the most interesting Nordic style games are produced outside the Nordic countries.

Edit: At least one of the documentaries, the one on Delirium, is now out on Vimeo. Notice that this is a documentary about the 2010 Danish game called Delirium, and not a documentary about the completely unrelated 2010 Finnish game Delirium: The Second State of Will (that documentary has been out for half a year), which Evan Torner discussed in the Think Larp book.