The UK has a large and thriving larp industry, going back to the early 1980s and with an estimated 100,000+ current active participants. But awareness of larp traditions in other countries, and in the Nordic scene in particular, has been minimal until very recently.
In particular, the few months since Knutpunkt 2014 have seen a flurry of Nordic-related activity. Twelve people attended the conference from the UK (and a few from Ireland), and several threads of action have spun off subsequently.
Adam James has organized a series of short larps in London. From the Norwegian Larps from the Factory book, he first ran at two-weekly intervals The Hirelings, Limbo, A Mothers Heart and Sarcophagus. Next was The Checkerboard Crew, a game Adam himself wrote together with Nina Runa Essendrop, on 22 June 2014, which I blogged about; and the series concluded with ‘Fallen Stars’, again from Larps from the Factory, on 13 July 2014.
Cat Tobin (who is Irish but currently based in the UK) has set up a group called The Game Kitchen (Facebook group here) – whose purpose is to “talk about the design of Nordic larp, freeform games (UK and American) and story games, and then – using what we learn from each other, and from what other people have done before us – we’ll create some games. We’ll then share those games, and our conversations about the process, online so that others can learn from what we’re doing.” So far The Game Kitchen has had three monthly meetings, in London: and Cat ran a Larp from the Factory, ‘What Happened in Lanzarote’, which I blogged about.
(Cat was also responsible for writing and running The Outsiders, together with me, which I believe was the first Nordic-style larp to have been written and run in the UK.)
Richard Williams is prominent in both the above projects, and has also established a Meetup group to help coordinate activity. His hope is that this Meetup will be the one-stop shop to hear about everything Nordic-related that happens in the UK and in Ireland.
Both Cat and Richard appeared on the story-gaming podcast The Twitching Curtain to talk about their experiences at Knutpunkt 2014, and the impact they expect it to have on the UK larp scene.
Kevin Burns has started a blog about Nordic larp and related topics – its purpose is “to explore Nordic larp. Partly, I’m doing that from the point of view of a psychotherapist who wonders about how it could be used in therapy, and partly because I find the whole thing tremendously exciting and I want to PLAY.”
Finally, an excursion to neighbour country Ireland – where Carla Burns is organizing Nina Runa Essendrop’s and Simon Steen Hansen’s White Death (Hvid død) on 8–9 August 2014 in Limerick, and has already run the Larp from the Factory ‘Before and After Silence’.
As you can see, Larps from the Factory has been a really powerful tool in helping us get Nordic larp off the ground here. We are very grateful to the authors, editors and publisher!
(There’s bound to be other stuff that I don’t know about, too. Please get in touch and let me know what you’ve been up to and what you’ve got planned!)
My own hope is that we will over time develop a strand of Nordic-style larps with a UK flavour. For that reason I’m particularly interested in what The Game Kitchen is doing, reaching out to other UK gaming styles and sharing with and learning from them: and in Adam James’s work with creative people from outside gaming. It’s a powerful brew!
Photos provided by Adam James.
This article has been edited to remove a reference to a known abuser.