Shoshana Kessock distinguishes between the idea of ‘safe’ and ‘responsible’ spaces. For me, this is really useful. Game designers might do everything possible to make a larp ‘safe’, but if one or more of the players behave irresponsibly, then it’s going to be unsafe.
I’m interested that women seem to be producing most of the thoughtful material on this subject at the moment – as well as Shoshana, I’m thinking of Sarah Lynne Bowman and Johanna Koljonen.
A larp is an environment co-created by all of the participants. It’s not an ‘experience engine’, because the most important parts of the machine are human beings. How can we foster a responsible space? Continue reading
When I was 11 two things happened to me: I climbed a tall tree in a storm, and I watched the film Alien. One of these things gave me nightmares for years afterwards; the other was scary, exhilarating and life-affirming. Which one was unsafe? As you may have guessed, it was my time on the claustrophobic Nostromo with Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt’s little friend that traumatised me. I can still recall a particularly gruelling Alien nightmare that I had in my early 20s. I’ve watched the film subsequently, as well as a couple of the sequels, but at 11 I was unprepared for the psychological shock I received. Clinging to the top branches of a poplar tree as it tossed in a fierce gale, I knew I was fairly safe. I’d done this kind of thing before; I knew my limits; and climbing that tree was me pushing past them gently.