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The award-winning, sold-out Nordic Larp is now available as a free digital edition. Up until now, the book, edited by game researchers and life-long role-players Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola, has been a difficult to find treasure for role-play enthusiasts, researchers, and artists.
Live action role-playing has developed into a unique and powerful form of expression in the Nordic countries. Nordic style larps range from entertaining flights of fancy to the exploration of the intimate, the collective, and the political. This unique tradition combines influences from theatre and performance art with gamer cultures, in order to push the boundaries of role-playing.
Recently the Nordic larp tradition has gained attention internationally. This book presents a cross-section of this vibrant culture through 30 outstanding larps, through stories told by designers, players and researchers, with over 250 photographs. In addition the book contains essays explaining the history and rhetorics of Nordic larp, and contextualizing it in relation to theatre, art and games.
The book has been hailed as “mandatory reading” (Aaron Vanek), “a remarkable tome” (Mike Tice), and a “major cultural service to game, culture and art studies” (Frans Mäyrä). According to Lizzie Stark “Anyone interested in the future of larp and its possibilities as a medium should read this book.” In 2012 Nordic Larp received the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming.
The digital edition of Nordic Larp is available from the University of Tampere: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-91-633-7857-7
Edit: Don’t be intimidated by the Finnish on the site. The site translates into English from the upper right hand corner.
Nordic Larp is a history of the Nordic larp scene, from its inception in post-D&D fantasy through experimental drama, historical recreation and far freaking weirdness, done as a massive and profusely illustrated coffee-table book, written by two gaming scholars. The book documents more than thirty larps that took place over 15 years, including ones with animatronic dragons and a space opera played out on a submarine. The Nordic Larp book assembles photos, memories, and designer notes, allowing the reader to survey these fantastic and sometimes legendary events. These records are bracketed by an introduction that summarizes the recurrent elements of the larps and a final essay on Nordic larping as art, theater, and game. Nordic larping is a major, dynamic branch of the gaming family tree, fully deserving of this massive, beautiful book that takes larping and game-history as serious business.
We were super-excited about being nominated, but did not at all expect to win; for a non-American thing just to get nominated is a big deal. We also did not have the funds to attend the award ceremony at Gen Con. We did, however, write an acceptance speech on the off chance that we’d win. Because how often do you have a chance to write an Oscar speech in your life? Emily Care Boss held the speech as she accepted the award on our behalf.
Thank you for this awesome recognition.
It is particularly heartwarming, because people outside the Nordic scene — people like you — are the audience we were thinking of when we created the book.
It is humbling to be recognized in this community, because our hobby grew from the seeds planted by the American tabletop role-playing industry, and we feel honored to have been able to bring something back to the table.
Even though there are only two names on the cover of Nordic Larp, this book has been a group effort. Over 50 people contributed to the book in one way or another.
But even more importantly, it was a community effort. The vibrant Nordic larp scene not only supported us through the process, but it of course created all the awesome games we had the privilege to work on. The book was very much created by the whole scene, and thus we see this award as a recognition for the whole the scene.
Finally, we see this award as a vindication of taking role-playing seriously. Role-playing is not only a fun pastime, but also a sophisticated form of expression, fully worthy of study and critique.
As participatory art is difficult to grasp with the vocabulary of traditional media, it falls unto us, the scene, to explain our passion to each other, and to the outside world — if we ever expect it to be understood.
The culture section of Helsingin Sanomat opened with a full page story on Nordic larp and Nordic Larp last Saturday. For those who don’t know, HS is the biggest newspaper in the Nordic countries, with a daily circulation of some 400.000.
While they tell about the book and some of the larps covered in the book, the majority of the article is based on our interview. Since they don’t really give their own opinion on the book itself, won’t be translatinging this to English — everything they write can be read from the book itself or this blog. They chose to highlight PanoptiCorp, Europa and FVV, as such games are of highest interest for the culture section in particular.
Truth be told, we are quite busy congratulating ourselves over this!
You can now order the book online from the webshop Fëa. It offers worldwide delivery from Sweden, so the price of postage and packaging varies based on how far from Jönköping you live. In the future Fëa will also stock other Nordic books and magazines on role-playing games and larp.
The book arrived from the printing press today! It was printed in Estonia and reached Finland today. It should be in Stockholm tomorrow and in Copenhagen and Oslo latest on Wednesday just before the release party.
Strategic measurements are as follows: weight 1,9 kg, height 28 cm, width 24,6 cm and thickness 3,5 cm.
Yes, we did open a bottle of champagne.
Don’t forget to come to the release party on Wednesday at 19:00 is Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen!
This is what people have said about the Nordic Larp book:
“Nordic Larp is a rare and vivid glimpse into a fascinating gaming tradition. If anyone knows how to imagine better worlds and build a more engaging reality, it’s larpers.”
– Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
“Now evolved far from its roots in genre consumption and modification, the progressive Nordic live roleplaying scene is building the tools for participatory performance that artists internationally will be using for generations to come. Nordic Larp is the first book to put the community’s key pieces in one easily digestible and visually seductive format.”
– Brody Condon, Artist
“The rise of the ars ludorum is not confined to the bombastic power fantasies of the videogame but is manifest all over the globe in diverse ways, from the doujin games of Japan to the passionate intensity of the indie games movement to the rise of the Euro-style board game. Not least among these movements is larp, brought to its apotheosis in the Nordic countries, where vast, imaginative works of enormous artistic ambition receive attention not only from game geeks but from their national cultures as well. This vital phenomenon is now accessible to English speakers through this landmark work, an anthology of articles describing some of the most impressive and compelling works of the form. Anyone seriously interested in role-play, interactive narrative, and the collision between games and theater will find it of enormous interest.”
– Greg Costikyan, Game Designer
Nordic Larp hit the printers a few weeks ago. The book will be released on the 22nd of December in four simultaneous parties in Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. The parties kick off at 19:00 local time. The Stockholm part fill be held in Betahaus (Skeppsholmen 30), and in Helsinki the location is Dubrovnik Lounge (Eerikinkatu 11). Locations in Oslo and Copenhagen are not yet decided, though.
These parties are probably the only chance to get the book before Christmas. The book costs 30 Euros. Later on the book will be availble through a webshop and the better role-play/larp shops across the Nordics.
You are hereby invited to join the parties. Feel free to bring a friend.
As we have worked on this book, and especially now that the end is near, we have in several cases been forced to meddle with crediting practices. While we try to shy away from creating a hall of fame, it is obvious that if you spent X hours laboring on a project, it’s quite important on whether you get the recognition and bragging rights when an occasion arises.
Projects like Dragonbane and Conspiracy for Good unfortunately have 100+ people working for them, and our credit box is not that large, so sometimes you can’t credit everyone. Sometimes the order of listing the credits leads to discussion, sometimes everyone should be credited for “larp design”, even when there’s one person who specifically focused on that.
Whenever there’s been discussion, the chief organizer’s say goes in this book, usually a producer or a chief creative. Then again, the organizers of System Danmarc wanted to only credit Opus, and The White Road lists all players, as it was collectively created.
Personally I think that credits are important. The Company P has stuff ranging from Knappnålshuvudet to Tähti in their early work portfolio, and Rollespilsfabrikken lists stuff starting from teen pirate larps in their cv. Being involved with something like Carolus Rex, Mellan himmel och hav or Delirium can help to open the doors of the digital game industry, a larp-based boarding school or it can help kickstart your event organizing company.
So… for any project that takes at least five person years of work, I say this: Be fair. Don’t shy away from discussing them, or constructively demanding recognition. Sort credits out early, even during the project, and list them on your website. And while it is not entirely applicable to what we do, take an hour to read the IGDA Crediting Guide.
Photo by Bjarke Pedersen, from Level Five.
After more than a year of work, we feel proud, happy and relieved to publish the first preview drafts of the Nordic Larp layout. These are not final, but this is generally how the final book will be like.
So here you go, with The White Road, Luminescence, Dragonbane and System Danmarc. Trust me, the early stuff on The Executive Game and PehmoYdin looks equally brilliant.
For the stunning visuals of the book, we are grateful to our endlessly patient layout artist and photo editor Tommi, to our photography experts Katri and Suvi, and obviously to all our first-class photographers. If you want to comment the drafts, please email your comments to nordic.larp at gmail.
We’ll also close down the crowd financing soon, so sign up for it now or never. Remember, for the supporter price of €50 you’ll get your name on the list of supporters, and a copy of the book at the first opportunity. We might also hug you in Knudepunkt. While our finances are well in order for printing, hard covers and luxurious paper, trickles like these can make or break the deal when it comes to things like dust jackets, final print run and some details of distribution.
The marathon of making this happen is turning into the final sprint. Happily, there seems to be light in the end of the tunnel.
One of the things we try to do with Nordic Larp is to paint a big picture of the Nordic larp scene. One of the nice things in editing the 29 different stories about larps is seeing their commonalities and differences. A nice palette of tools, an interesting repertoire of genres and so forth: Looking at the manuscript and the photos made me realize only now that indeed, System Danmarc belongs to the old tradition of village larps, making it as much a follower of Trenne byar in that sense as Dragonbane is.
One exercise in this is that we think about putting a table of This Stuff to the intro of the book, painting broad lines and generic thematical similarities between our material. We have made work version of the table, and would invite you to comment below if you can add to our knowledge, or disagree with our draft.
Some of the categories are flimsier than others, and feel free to point out our errors in that sense as well: Physical Action and Therapy especially turned out to be a bit weird. The final version will probably be a bit cut down version of this anyway, so take this as a brainstorm draft.
X is intended to signify a strong relevance of a theme, ? indicates weak, accidental or partially failed relevance, and !!! means that we really need your opinion.
We are really interested to see how this ugly monster turns into an awesomely beautiful illustration in the layout process. 🙂