Pikseliparatiisi: Tappamatta jättämisen autuus

Pelaan videopelejä työkseni. Monissa niistä tapetaan vihollisia, esimerkiksi venäläisiä tai arabeja. Call of Duty -peleissä tai Battlefieldeissä tapetaan satoja vastustajia. Headshottia toisen perään.

Se on peliä, ja mitä pidempään pelaa, sitä enemmän se tuntuu vain peliltä. Fiktion fiktiivisyys on yhä ilmeisempää, eikä keksittyä pikselihahmoa ajattele ihmisen kuvana. Tarpeeksi monen räiskintäpelin jälkeen vihollisissa on kiinni yhtä paljon inhimillistä fiilistä kuin Pac-Manin syömissä pallukoissa.

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Olikin yllättävää, kuinka vapauttavalta ja kivalta tuntui, kun uudessa Battlefield: Hardlinessä pääsi pidättämään vihollisia. Huomasin alkavani kuvitella vihollisille omia tarinoita. Jos tehtävä meni hyvin puoliväliin asti, mutta hajosi sitten räiskinnäksi, ajattelin että nuo pari kaveria menivät vankilaan, ja nämä loput hautausmaalle.

Joillain lapsilla oli vielä isät, toisilla ei.

Peliin tuli odottamattomasti lisää tunnetta, kun viholliset jälleen vähän inhimillistyivät. Huomasin yrittäväni hoitaa tehtäviä mahdollisimman verettömästi, vaikka se olikin vaikeampaa. Viimeinen kenttä on mahdollista suorittaa ampumatta laukaustakaan, paitsi välianimaatiossa, ja oli tyydyttävää tehdä juuri niin.

Hardline on yhdistelmä räiskintää ja hiiviskelypeliä, jossa yritetään vaivihkaa livahtaa vihollisen ohi tämän huomaamatta. Monessa kentässä livahdin vihollisten taakse ja pistin heitä rautoihin yksitellen, kunnes lopulta koko alue oli tyhjä. Siinä oli omaa poliisifiilistään, vaikkei se kovin realistista ollutkaan.

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Valitettavasti Hardline ei sitoudu omiin innovaatioihinsa. Siinä on myös kohta, jossa ammutaan panssarivaunulla helikoptereita alas taivaalta ehtaan videopelityyliin. Sitä pelatessa ei juuri tullut ajatelleeksi, onko kopterilentäjillä lapsia.

Toiveeni onkin, että joku muu huomaa pidätysmekanismin ja kopioi sen johonkin tinkimättömämpään peliin.

Non-Digital: Real Hamlet

This past weekend, I played in the larp Inside Hamlet, in Denmark. The larp gave the play a Marxist vision of decadent nobles living their last murderous days while the Reds were closing in. In the end, when the rebels finally break down the doors, they find only piles of corpses and cowering survivors.

The game was played at the actual Elsinore castle. That was pretty cool.

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(At the venue, during a break between the acts. My character was a priest.)

The game had the rule “What happens in Elsinore stays in Elsinore”, so I’m not going to go into specifics. Instead, I’ll write about something that occurred to me as I watched the final moments of the dying court. I had already died myself, and was present as a mute ghost.

To prepare for the larp, I watched every Hamlet movie I could get my hands on. The Laurence Olivier Hamlet, the Derek Jacobi Hamlet, the Soviet Hamlet, and so on. Most of them shared a theatrical quality, a feeling of the actors and the director playing with the text and the language. Almost all of the movies were quite good, but they also made it seem as if adapting Hamlet was a bit of a lark.

Or a game of sorts.

When I was in my own version of Hamlet, larping my character, watching Queen Gertrude die of poison, I didn’t feel like we were playing. It felt deadly fucking serious.

The world of Inside Hamlet was grotesque and the characters monsters. It wasn’t played in a realistic style. Yet still, living inside this fictional context gave everything that happened a tragic weight. In the movies, the final duel has been done in many different ways, but only in the larp it felt like it was two people fighting over the deaths of their loved ones.

The movies were a game. The game was not.

Pikseliparatiisi: Gamergate poliisisarjassa

Gamergate on normalisoitunut osaksi videopelikenttää. Yksi tapa miten tämä näkyy on, että siihen on alettu viitata muualla popkulttuurissa. Yksi esimerkki tästä on 11. 2. 2015 esitetty poliisisarja Law & Order: Special Victims Unitin jakso Intimidation Game.

Jakso alkaa lupaavasti, joskin pöhkösti. Ice T:n hahmo on pelaaja, ja selittää muille pelislangia. Miehet ahdistelevat naista pelitapahtumassa, ja poliisi puuttuu asiaan. Linja on selvä: Ahdistelu ja uhkailu on paha, ja sillä hyvä. Sen sijaan, että yrittäisivät löytää jotain kuvitteellista keskitietä, tekijät ovat asettuneet selvästi Gamergatea ja sen kaltaisia häiriköintiliikkeitä vastaan.

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Viikon uhrina jaksossa toimii pelistudion johtaja Raina Punjabi, joka yrittää pitää uuden pelinsä julkaisua raiteilla vaikka poliisi haluaisi hänen panostavan enemmän omaan turvallisuuteensa. Punjabi ei halua antaa periksi uhkailijoille.

Jakson edetessä hänelle käy huonosti. Pelaajamiehet eivät hyväksy naispuolista pelisuunnittelijaa, vaan kidnappaavat tämän. Kuten peliaiheisten elokuvien ja tv-sarjajaksojen suurin klise vaatii, pelistä tulee totta.

On inhottavaa katsoa, kuinka fiktiivistä Punjabia pahoinpidellään tilanteessa, jossa hänen esikuviaan uhkaillaan edelleen päivittäin. Sikailuissa on melkeimpä mehusteleva ote, ja kun Punjabi vihdoin murtuu, siitä otetaan kaikki irti.

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Tv-sarjan maailmassa Gamergaten rikokset ovat pahempia kuin oikeasti, mutta oikeastikin Gamergaten silmätikuksi joutuneet naiset kuten Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn ja Brianna Wu ovat joutuneet massiivisen häirinnän kohteiksi, ja paikoin jopa lähtemään kotoaan oman turvallisuutensa vuoksi. Tästä huolimatta he ovat kaikki edelleen mukana taistelussa paremman pelikulttuurin puolesta.

Toistaiseksi pelialalla olevan naisen julkinen häpäisy ja murtuminen on tapahtunut vain Gamergate-aktiivien fantasioissa. Ja tässä SVU-jaksossa.

Toimittaja Leigh Alexander on saanut osansa Gamergate-inhoa. Hän kirjoittaa kokemuksistaan, ja Intimidation Game -jaksosta, täällä.

Roleplaying Game Movie Night #20: Warhammer 40K

I and some friends have a project of trying to watch all movies, tv episodes and other stuff with moving pictures related to roleplaying games ever made. We’re pretty far along on this goal. I’ll write here about old and new things we’ve found and watched.

Dragonlance is not the only gaming franchise that’s been badly served by adaptations. Another is the Games Workshop juggernaut Warhammer 40K. Its world has been created principally for war games, but there’s a solid line of roleplaying games as well.

There’s an official, animated 40K movie from 2010 called Ultramarines, and a German fan made movie called Damnatus from 2008. Of these two, Damnatus is inarguably the better.

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(Ultramarines)

Ultramarines features a bunch of space marines who go to a planet to investigate a distress call. They battle against their inner demons, but most importantly they seem to walk around a gravel pit for ever and ever.

The gravel pit is a classic location of fan-made and cheap genre movies, but why it was chosen as a location for an animated movie, I have no idea.

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(Damnatus)

Damnatus is a fan movie denied release at the last minute by Games Workshop. Mysteriously, following the ban it leaked into the internet. It’s about a bunch of mercenaries hired by an Inquisitor to investigate strange phenomena in the lower depths of a planet.

Very obviously a fan movie, Damnatus suffers from its lack of actual actors, a solid script or anything resembling interesting characters or dramatic scenes. However, I’d argue it’s still a must-watch for any 40K geek, because it captures the tone and style of the world so perfectly. Unlike in Ultramarines, in Damnatus you know you’re in the far future where there’s only war.

It’s full of fun little detail that only makes sense if you know the world already, like the servo-skull pictured above. It’s in German, and demonstrates that German is the only proper language for 40K.

Roleplaying Game Movie Night #19: Dragonlance

I and some friends have a project of trying to watch all movies, tv episodes and other stuff with moving pictures related to roleplaying games ever made. We’re pretty far along on this goal. I’ll write here about old and new things we’ve found and watched.

When I was twelve, I thought that Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman were the best that the fantasy genre had to offer. Sure, I liked Tolkien too, but he had nothing on Dragonlance.

Now that I’m 34, I see no reason to revise this opinion.

It’s a shame that there’s so few adaptations of Dragonlance, good or not. We’ve been able to find two, the animated version of the first book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and the Russian musical version of the second trilogy, Legends.

You can watch the musical here, with English subtitles:

The thing about the musical version is that it’s absolutely excellent. You have to know the story, but for an old Dragonlance lover such as myself, this is manna from heaven. According to the YouTube page, it’s actually a promo concert held by the theatre studio Lege Artis at the 8th of February, 2014 in Moscow. It features scenes from a musical called The Last Trial.

Before this, I had never realized how operatic the Legends trilogy was. It’s been distilled into a story about Raistlin, Caramon and Crysania, and the interplay of love and power in Raistlin’s character. The possibly best scene has Raistlin singing a duet with Takhisis the Queen of Darkness about his love affair with Crysania. The YouTube video above features people from three different casts, so don’t be confused if the actor playing Raistlin suddenly changes.

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(A still from the movie Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight)

Unfortunately, the animated Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight movie fails to live up to the standards set up by Russian musical theatre. It goes through the story of the first Dragonlance book, somehow combining the worst features of both classical Eighties Saturday morning cartoons and modern 3D-animated stuff.

It also remains faithful to some of the dumbest stuff found in the original book, things that any reasonable adaptation would have cut out. It’s a dismal effort.

Non-Digital: Against Chess

Chess has arguably pervaded our culture more thoroughly than any other game. It’s used as a metaphor, a visual motif and as decoration, and sometimes people even play it.

My chess career started and ended while I was still underage. There’s one game I remember loving as a child much more than chess, and that was Knightmare Chess, the French variant published in English by Steve Jackson Games. It adds a selection of cards to chess, and every round you can move a piece and play a card.

I lost my copy of Knightmare Chess and its sequel, and for some reason they weren’t reprinted. Until now!

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It’s a much better game than I remembered, and quite an interesting one.

Here’s two defining features chess has:

1 – Chess is transparent. You know at all times everything there is to know about the state of the game. All the information about what’s happening is right there on the board.

2 – Chess is not random. You can calculate all possible moves from any given game state.

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Knightmare Chess challenges both of these qualities. A player’s hand, and the cards in her deck, are secret from the other player. This means that when you play the game, you see the state of the chessboard, but that’s not the whole story.

You can build your deck, but the cards come into your hand randomly. This means that the game has an element of chance: You can have good cards in the beginning, or bad ones.

Playing the game, it feels as if Knightmare Chess is a game designed to comment on, and perhaps to challenge traditional chess. It plays with the assumptions chess has, sometimes irreverently. There’s a definite tension between the hidebound traditionalism of chess, and the chaos of Knightmare Chess. The appeal of the game lies in this tension. It’s a good game precisely because there’s no harmony at its core.

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Still, there’s one temptation in Knightmare Chess above all: If neither side has good cards and if both come up with good strategies, the game can accidentally devolve into normal chess.

Research Blog Antarctica #135 – Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic

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Museum: Russian State Museum of Artic and Antarctic (St. Petersburg)

Russia and the Soviet Union have a long history of exploration in the Arctic and Antarctic. I visited the Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic in St. Petersburg, and while the Artic section is bigger and better, there’s some cool Antarctic stuff as well. The above photo is from the Antarctic section, on an upper floor below the museum’s impressive cupola.

Underneath the cupola, they had this:

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The museum dates back to Soviet times, and features some things that you probably won’t find in an average polar exhibition. One is the series of oil paintings depicting Antarctic and Arctic scenes. Another is this mural showing Lenin discussing the Arctic with scientists:

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As to the Antarctic, the absolute highlight is the series of surgical tools used by the Soviet doctor Leonid Rogozov to perform an appendectomy on himself at the Vostok base in 1961. It’s an extremely famous piece of Antarctic lore.

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Pikseliparatiisi: Keskeneräisten tarujen pelit

Telltale Gamesin The Walking Dead popularisoi mallin, jossa peli julkaistaan osissa. Pelaaja ostaa koko kauden, mutta jaksot ilmestyvät tiputuksella. Ostaessaan pelin pelaajan on siis mahdollista tutustua vain alkuun. Täytyy luottaa siihen että laatu pitää. Tai että loput jaksot ilmestyvät ollenkaan.

Minulla on kesken seuraavat episodeina ilmestyvät pelit:

Broken Age

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The Detail

Dreamfall Chapters

The Game of Thrones

Kentucky Route Zero

Life is Strange

Republique

Tales From the Borderlands

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(Meininki pelissä D4 on täysin normaalia.)

Osasta on ilmestynyt vain ensimmäinen osa, joistain useampia. Telltale Games on julkaustavan pioneeri, ja studion kokemus näkyy myös siinä että pelit pysyvät pääpiirteittäin aikataulussa. Uusia jaksoja tulee tasaisesti. Tämän listan peleistä Telltalen kamaa ovat Tales From the Borderlands, josta on toistaiseksi ilmestynyt ensimmäinen osa, ja The Game of Thrones, josta on ilmestynyt kaksi osaa.

Tässä kohtaa kesken olevia, osissa ilmestyviä pelejä on niin paljon, että jotkut epäonnistuvat varmasti. Pelifirma menee konkurssiin. Peli ei myy tarpeeksi. Rahat loppuvat. Mitä vain voi tapahtua, ja kun pelejä on tarpeeksi, varmasti tapahtuukin.

Pelikehittämisen vaikeuksia on ennenkin ollut vaikea ennakoida, ja osalla episodipelien julkaisijoista on selvästi hankaluuksia pysyä aikataulussa. Broken Age ja Kentucky Route Zero ovat molemmat törkeästi myöhässä aikataulustaan.

Episodipelejä tehdään luotolla. Uskomme pelifirman kykyyn toimittaa valmista kamaa. Se liittyy toiseen pelikehittämisen nyky-ilmiöön, Kickstarter-peleihin. Niidenkin ideana on, että ensin pistetään rahat pelifirmalle, ja pelifirma tekee pelin vasta sitten.

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(Life is Strange tekee teinidraamaa videopelin muodossa.)

Pelistudioiden kannalta on helppo nähdä, miksi tällaiset järjestelyt houkuttelevat. Osa taloudellisesta riskistä on ulkoistettu kuluttajille, ja on mahdollista tehdä pelejä jotka eivät koskaan saisi penniäkään perinteisiltä rahoittajilta.

Lienee parasta asennoitua siihen, että muutama pettymys on tulossa. Se on sääli, koska episodiformaatissa julkaistaan todella hyviä pelejä.

Non-Digital: Interaction Design Love From Denmark

This weekend, I was at the larp and roleplaying conference Knudepunkt in Denmark. The conference has a heavy focus on larp design, which often boils down to interaction design.

It was interesting to see how the tools we have developed to make larp could also be used to design conference spaces and programming.

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(View from a table at the Bazar social space.)

One of the simple yet clever design choices was made in the way the social spaces were organized. At night, there were two main social spaces, the bar and dancefloor, and the Bazar, a big space with a stage, tents with board games and roleplaying books and tables and chairs scattared around in groups. It acted as the setting for a diverse set of events, from an open mike to a Norwegian ritual.

Both the Bazar and the disco had bars. Non-alcoholic options were available at both. The disco served beer, and the bar at the Bazar served drinks. This created an unobtrusive motivation for people to keep moving around from place to place, and not get stuck in one spot. It was one choice, but there were many like it.

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(Mike Pohjola at the Baltic Warriors presentation.)

My perhaps favorite was in the Saturday party, with a theme of sins and virtues. One of those virtues was Temperance, and there was a special, dark and empty room dedicated to it, with a sign saying you couldn’t drink beer there. The only thing I ever saw anyone use the room for was to drink beer with the added thrill of breaking a rule.

The program included keynote talks that collected everyone together before we scattered into our various workshops and discussions. Big parts of the Sunday morning clean-up operation were turned into games.

In short, larp design FTW.

If you want to read more about the ideas presented at the conference, check out the two books, Nordic Larp yeabook 2014 and The Knudepunkt 2015 Companion Book.

Non-Digital: What Gets Included in Roleplaying History?

I have in my hands something that’s probably destined to become one of the most obscure Finnish roleplaying books ever published. To be honest, it’s not even really a book, but a 24 page printed booklet. It’s called Manhattan 2010, and contains almost no information about its circumstances of publication, except for a foreword credited:

Helsingissä 21.11.2014

Jonas Mustonen

Jukka Hämäläinen

From social media, I’ve gathered that the booklet is only available directly from the authors, and the print run is in the low tens.

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Manhattan 2010 raises interesting questions about what is the history of roleplaying games. The original Manhattan 2010 was a childhood roleplaying game in which the authors participated. It was based on the classic Finnish translation of the Dungeons & Dragons red box, and featured an Escape From New York -style setting.

The booklet is an attempt to capture this childhood game, based on vague recollections, into a published work. According to the foreword: “The supplement called Manhattan 2010 has been compiled according to the best of our ability based on what we can remember.”

The history of tabletop roleplaying has traditionally been a history of publishing. We know of Gary Gygax and Vampire: the Masquerade. We know of published game books and the designers who wrote them. What gets lost in the shuffle tends to be the actual gaming experiences of the people who play these games.

Roleplaying is a co-creative medium, and this means that virtually no roleplaying game can be played without some creative input from the participants. My personal experience has been that the published book is more of a starting point for the participants’ own creativity. Looking only at published games ignores the actual circumstances of roleplaying.

The reasons for why tabletop roleplaying history is skewed this way is obvious. It’s much easier to write about published works than about the hundreds of thousands or millions of people who use those works to make their own games, and possibly never write about them anywhere. Writing a “People’s History of Roleplaying Games” would be a daunting task.

Nevertheless, Manhattan 2010 represents a small, personal attempt to do just that. It’s not a childhood concept polished for mass consumption, but a ragged little thing with all the weird edges still intact.

My favorite part is the description of cops: “This game doesn’t have orcs, but these guys are the closest equivalent if we’re looking for needlessly violent people who won’t listen to any explanations.”

Pikseliparatiisi: Sain pakit videopelihahmolta

Romantiikalla on keskeinen rooli Dragon Age: Inquisitionin kaltaisissa peleissä. Inquisitionissa on mielenkiintoisia ja värikkäitä sivuhahmoja, joiden kanssa on hauska flirttailla.

Otinkin Inquisitionissa linjaksi valita keskusteluissa aina romanttinen vaihtoehto jos vain suinkin mahdollista. Arvelin, että riiaamalla kaikkien kanssa päätyisi hauskoihin kuvioihin.

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Nopeiten romanssi veti Blackwallin kanssa. Blackwall on synkkä ja mysteerinen synkistelijämies, jolla on synkkä menneisyys. Hänellä on matala ääni ja apea ilme. Blackwall on pelin sivuhahmoista kenties vähiten mielenkiintoinen.

Hänen kanssaan kuitenkin synkkasi siinä mielessä, että hän piti pelissä tekemistäni ratkaisuista, ja niinpä suhde syveni. Pian muut sivuhahmot alkoivat torppailla flirttiäni: “Seurustelet jo, en halua tunkea väliin…”

Sietämätöntä.

Pistin Blackwallin kanssa poikki juuri ennen seksikohtausta, koska arvelin että voisin iskeä jonkun mielenkiintoisemman.

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Seuraava yritykseni oli Sera, anarkistinen haltia, jota ahdisti olla haltia. Seran kanssa oli hauskaa, mutta maailmankuvaerot osoittautuvat ylitsepääsemättömiksi. Olin itsekin haltia, ja vedin tiukkaa haltia-pride-linjaa. Sera olisi halunnut unohtaa koko haltia-asian ja vain olla normaali tyyppi.

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Aloin huolestua romanttisten mahdollisuuksieni puolesta. No, seuraavaksi kiinnostuin Cassandrasta. Hän oli vähän vanhempi kovanaamainen soturinainen, ja salaa romantikko. Flirttailin hänen kanssaan, autoin häntä romanttisen kirjallisuuden hankkimisessa, ja hetken aikaa meillä oli kivaa yhdessä.

Lopulta tein siirtoni, ja Cassandra antoi minulle pakit.

PAKIT!

Eli siis, tein kaiken mitä oli pelin puitteissa mahdollista tehdä jotta pääsisi hänen kanssaan suhteeseen, ja hetken meillä olikin jotain, mutta sain silti pakit. Kokemus oli järkyttävä. Eikö mihinkään voi enää luottaa? Onko tällainen enää peliä ollenkaan? Mitä seuraavaksi, aikuisia, hienovaraisia ja hyvin kirjoitettuja suhteita hahmojen välillä?

Pöyristyttävää.

Alan käydä epätoivoiseksi. Suurin osa pelin sisällöstä on jo koluttu läpi. Olisiko pitänyt sittenkin mennä Blackwallin kanssa loppuun asti?

Non-Digital: Profound Larp Thoughts

This year’s Knudepunkt larp conference saw the publication of two books, first the Nordic larp yearbook 2014 and now a collection of articles about larp, the scene, game design, and other related matters. Edited by Charles Bo Nielsen and Claus Raasted, it’s called The Knudepunkt 2015 Companion Book, and you can download it here as a free PDF.

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Introducing new concepts and terminology is one of this year’s book’s themes. Steering is one of these concepts, and it means consciously directing your game experience towards some kind of a goal for other than in-game reasons. Trying to kill the king because my character hates the king is not steering. Trying to kill the king because I want to get killed in a glorious death scene is steering.

The two articles about this idea are one of the highlights of the book. Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros and Eleanor Saitta outline the idea in their article The Art of Steering. Mike Pohjola gives it personal weight in his excellent essay Steering for Immersion in Five Nordic Larps. He writes about his personal experiences steering towards certain kinds of play.

I have an article in the book about documentation and questions of private and public play. Jamie MacDonald writes about similar subjects in a more comprehensive way in his article On Publicity and Privacy, using data from a survey on the subject of larp documentation.

Another strong theme in the book is a sense of history: We’re finally old enough to have some perspective. This shows in many different ways. Myriel Balzer’s article about edularp is not about using larp to teach; it’s about teaching people how to use larp to teach.

Eirik Fatland and Markus Montola have a wonderful article called The Blockbuster Formula, analyzing the design of recent games like The Monitor Celestra and The College of Wizardry. It goes through some classic methods of larp design, and how these are updated and complemented by new ideas. It finally rehabilitates some old school ideas of design for a new era of Nordic larp.

The practical and the political intersect with design in an article by Kaisa Kangas called Processing Political Larps. She writes about political games, and talks about the challenges you can have debriefing them, as seen in the larp Halat hisar, on which I also worked.

This year’s book is a fast read, and you can get into some really interesting ideas and concepts in an afternoon. Short is sweet. However, perhaps next year we’d be ready to read some longer essays along with the shorter pieces?

Research Blog Antarctica #134 – Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness

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Board game: Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness (Fantasy Flight Games, 2014)

Eldritch Horror is a follow-up to the successful H.P. Lovecraft -themed board game, Arkham Horror. In Arkham Horror, the action is limited to a small New England town, while in Eldritch Horror, the entire globe acts as the stage. Mountains of Madness is an expansion in which Antarctica is brought into the spotlight.

As can be seen in the above photo from when we played it, Eldritch Horror is a massive game, with or without the expansion. Its focused on story, exploration and ambiance, and while its mechanisms are more elegant than those in Arkham Horror, this still isn’t German board game design. The Byzantine sprawl is a part of the charm.

The expansion is based on the Lovecraft novella At the Mountains of Madness. A scientific expedition modeled after the explorers of Lovecraft’s time reaches Antarctica and discovers traces of ancient civilization.

In the expansion, Antarctica is represented by an extra game board, and two new threats, Ithaqua and Rise of the Elder Things, make cold-based Lovecraft stuff into the focus of the game. Based on one test game, the expansion works very well, and the Antarctic content integrates neatly into the wider experience.

The test game ended with our investigators at the Antarctic Lake Camp, trying to free people from the terrifying mind control of the elder things.

Non-Digital: Last Year’s Nordic Larp

Knudepunkt is an annual conference dedicated to ambitious larps and other roleplaying games. Every year, one or more books are published along with the event.

The Danish book editors Charles Bo Nielsen and Claus Raasted are attempting to start a tradition of a yearbook collecting articles about games played the previous year. To set an example, one of the two Knudepunkt books this year is called The Nordic larp yearbook 2014. You can download it here as a free PDF.

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There’s one big issue I wish to get out of the way before I go deeper into the meat of the book: The issue of geography.

Put bluntly, the Nordic larp yearbook contains a lot of larp not played in the Nordic countries. The biggest individual country represented in the book is the Czech Republic, with four games. There’s three Swedish games and three games I’d characterize as international, for different reasons. Russia, Denmark and Finland follow with two games.

There’s been some debate lately about what is “Nordic larp”. The editors chose to end this book with a quote from the game researcher Jaakko Stenros: “A Nordic larp is a larp that is influenced by the Nordic larp tradition and contributes to the ongoing Nordic larp discourse.”

Following this definition, a game can belong in the category of “Nordic larp” without taking place in the Nordic countries, since the tradition is the thing. The upside of this definition is that it’s inclusive, but it has a side-effect of drafting a bunch of games from other traditions into Nordic larp. This is especially glaring with countries like the Czech Republic and Russia, with extremely rich larp traditions of their own. Then again, many organizers in these countries are influenced by Nordic larp, as should be obvious by the fact that they write in this book.

The non-Nordic games are also some of the most interesting. The “why didn’t I play in this game” prize goes to the Russian larp Saint Summer. A game about the Sixties in the U.S., it sounds absolutely crazy, with Woodstock, free sex, soldiers fighting the Vietnam war, and a lot of other stuff.

Other articles feature both fascinating games and interesting methods and details. Another highlight is the Danish game Morgenrøde, about the hippie movement in Denmark in the Sixties and Seventies. (Indeed, reassessing Sixties counterculture is one of the big themes in the book. Another larp about a similar subject is the Russian Ticket to Atlantis.)

Morgenrøde’s mechanic for drug use sounds extremely interesting, and definitely worth stealing. It involves a black box type solution instead of the classic “pretend to be high” method of playing it out. Danish speakers can read more about the game in the documentation book Bogen om Morgenrøde, available as a free PDF here.

Another big theme in the book is gender. The Norwegian rerun of the Swedish game Brudpris featured in the book seeks to model extremely oppressive gender structures. The Swedish fantasy game Livsgäld is about redefining both gender and the fantasy genre. Other games, such as the Finnish Tonnin stiflat and the Swedish Mare Incognitum, had various solutions to ensure gender equality and equality in terms of game content for players of different genders.

Reading the book, one thing I think we’ve become better at is writing for people from other scenes. This means we have to explain somethings that are obvious in our local context, but strange for people from other contexts. There’s a great example of this in the article about Danish fantasy larp called Nemefrego 2014. Apparently, characters killed in their sleep has been a traditional problem in Danish fantasy games. This is called a “sleeping bag murder”, and in this game it was forbidden. The article uses this as an example when talking about changing play culture.

I have an article in the book too, about the larp Baltic Warriors: Helsinki. I was part of the organizing group of the game, which is a part of the wider Baltic Warriors project.

Vuoden elokuvat 2014

Listalla on elokuvia myös viime vuodelta, mikäli niillä kesti vähän pidempään päästä Suomeen asti.

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Parhaat elokuvat, jotka on tehty aiheista jotka ovat minulle henkilökohtaisia keppihevosia: Antarctica: A Year on Ice, Dark Dungeons & The Gamers: Hands of Fate

Muille: Antarctica on hieno ja kaunis, vaikka ei olisikaan aiheesta harrastunut. Pelielokuvia ei tajua ellei tunne roolipeliskeneä.

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Paras vampyyrielokuva, ei pelkästään tänä vuonna vaan ehkä koskaan: Only Lovers Left Alive

Kaunista, herkkää, seksikästä, omaperäistä, jne. jne.

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Paras elokuva joka on tällä listalla siksi, että se saa presidentin josta en pidä näyttämään pöntöltä: Presidentintekijät

Voi Niinistöä.

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Paras roolipelaamista käsittelevä elokuva, joka kykenee kilpailemaan muuallakin kuin harrastelijasarjassa: Zero Charisma

Toivon kuitenkin, ettei kukaan muodosta mielikuvaansa roolipelaamisesta tämän perusteella.

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Paras tajunnanräjäyttävä spektaakkeli joka käsittelee inhimillisyyden, esiintymisen, viihdeteollisuuden, teknologian ja tietoisuuden tulevaisuutta ja nykytilaa: The Congress

Lajityyppinä animaatio-live-hybridi.

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Paras yritys myydä vanhuksien seksikkyyttä: Gerontophilia

Me kaikki olemme vanhoja joskus.

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Paras Itä-Eurooppalainen elokuva jossa maailma on kauhea ja seksiä ja väkivaltaa riittää: The Tribe

Tällä kertaa Ukrainasta. Jossain vaiheessa Serbia ja Unkari oli hyviä näiden kanssa, mutta nyt tuntuu että enää Romania liputtaa.

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Paras elokuva ohjaajalta, jonka kuvitteli olleen jo uransa ehtoopuolella: La danza de la realidad

Jo varsin iäkäs Alejandro Jodorowsky on hämmästyttävän hyvässä iskussa elokuvassa, joka näyttää erilaiselta kuin mikään muu.

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Paras elokuva jossa on rupihinkkausseksiä: Moebius

Finnkinon levityksessä!

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Paras elokuva jossa Mooses ja Jumala havainnollistavat yksilövetoisen terrorismin ja valtioterrorismin eroja: Exodus: Gods and Kings

Elokuvaa voi haukkua vaikka mistä, mutta Jumalan Egyptiin iskemien vitsausten rinnastaminen siviileihin kohdistuviin terroritekoihin oli inspiroitunutta. Myös hieno opetus siitä, miten keskustelu rajataan: Mooses kannattaa rajoitettuja iskuja siviilejä vastaan, kun taas Jumalalla on enemmän jenkkityylinen kaikki paskaksi -linja.