Archive for LARP

Game Design in the New Year

Hey Folks, Strix here. I’ve got a mega update for you, so buckle up!

When you heard from me last it was August and I was about to embark upon Gen Con. This year’s Gen Con was great, and really transformative. It’s the first year that I’ve hooked up with Games on Demand, and let me just say, they are THE best organized gaming collective I have ever come across. Professional, diligent, empathic, and really good taste in indie games. GoD does an excellent job at maintaining a safe space where everybody can have fun, and I was super impressed. It was a pleasure working with them as a host, and I’ll be coming back in 2015 as an organizer.

I also sat on a few panels about diversity and inclusivity, cosplayed, attended the Diana Jones Award, etc. This year was also my first Peter Atkison suite party. Very entertaining. Gaming as Other was on the ground doing some work behind closed doors. Things are still in progress, so I can’t say a whole lot about it at the moment.

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Wolverine and Jean Grey professional cosplay:

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While at Gen Con I also attended the Hacking as Women event hosted by Indie Game Developer Network. IGDN brought in some heavy hitters from the indie world and sat participants down to come up with new games and work on their design for a few hours. Which is exactly what we did. I ended up being paired with a complete stranger, Sarah Richardson. But we got on quickly and we found we had a shared passion for mythology and fairy tales. We decided that we wanted to make a game based off one of the classical dark fairy tales, but which one? I suggested we do Bluebeard, and it just clicked. We were placed with Marissa Kelly, IGDN organizer and designer of Epyllion, who was supposed to be giving us pointers, but we all got so wrapped up in it that when the hacking event was done, none of us were willing to let it go. There was just something about Bluebeard that was amazing, and as we pitched it around the room it was clear that we had something good.

The three of us have been developing it ever since, and it’s gone swimmingly. We had our first playtest at Metatopia 2014, and our next playtest will be at Dreamation. When it’s all put together we’ll be publishing through Magpie Games, sometime in late 2015. I’ve worked on a lot of other people’s games in different capacities. This is the first one that is really mine. My two co-designers are brilliant, and I am so exited about getting this out into the wild. Here is a little bit of what I’ve written about Bluebeard’s Wife before. If you’re interested on getting glimpses of the development process, I suggest you go circle me on Google+, where I talk the most about these things.

The fairy tale of Bluebeard is one of the darkest in the European tradition. It’s the story of a young, poor bride who marries a rich and cunning nobleman who has already had several wives. He whisks her away to his castle where he gives her pearls and silks, the keys to every door. But the smallest key, he says, you must never use.

It is a trap, of course. Bluebeard leaves his wife alone in the castle and she wanders the rooms, trying to avoid the one room she must not enter, but ultimately drawn to it, and her doom. When she opens that last door she finds…well, it’s best if you see for yourself. 

In our game you play the Complexes, different aspects of Bluebeard’s wife; the Virgin, the Witch, the Mother, and many others, as Bluebeard’s Wife tries to navigate the castle, perhaps trying to find a way out of the front gate, or a way into Bluebeard’s heart, but always drawn towards the last room. The castle tests her sanity, and not every part of her will survive–if any part of her does at all.

This game is dark, erotic, and filled with creeping terror. It’s about the intricacies of feminine horror, which, trust me, is a vast and rich tradition. Unfortunately it’s a tradition that has remained virtually untapped in the indie gaming scene. We hope Bluebeard’s Wife will be the start of an exploration of a vital and powerful genre.

In short: PLAY BLUEBEARD. FEEL HORRIFIED. 

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In August I also sat on an hour long Indie+ web panel, “How to Build an RPG Community.” You can watch it here:

In September I attended SandCon, which really wasn’t a con at all, but a private event in a rented beach house out on the Jersey shore. SandCon was great because there were a lot of cutting edge thinkers there, and there were some very lively and intelligent discussions going on at all hours of the day and night. There were also great games, and new things being tried out. I got to test out John Harper’s Blades in the Dark as well as experience Jackson Tegu’s Silver and White for the first time. My big contribution was giving body surfing lessons and facilitating a larp in which all the players were eight year-olds at a birthday party. We did not bring enough paper towels.

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I finished up the Los Angeles City Guide for Urban Shadows, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. There is a lot of awesome flavor, but my favorite piece of the work was bringing to life the kick-ass vengeful Chumash spirit bent on destroying L.A. Urban Shadows should be doing their full release soon. I can’t wait for you guys to play in my setting!

I also sat as one of four judges for the Golden Cobra Challenge, a freeform design competition. I was amazed, simply amazed by the diversity and quality of the submissions that came to us. There were about 50 entries, and it was extremely hard for us to pick the winners. My personal favorite out of the bunch is Still Life, a freeform game where you’re playing…rocks. But no! I promise it’s beautiful and compact and very cleverly designed and I am in love with it. There were so many other good ones as well, like REBOOT, Glitch Iteration, Dream Bear, I could go on and on. You can download the Golden Cobra Anthology of all the games that the designers elected to include here (Warning, massive PDF). I think that we are going to see many of these games become fairly popular among the indie and freeform crowd, and I’m honored to have been apart of such a massive creative endeavor.

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I, along with a bunch of other talented and inspiring people, have also been helping with James Stuart’s brainchild, Different Play. Different Play is a Patreon initiative to diversify analog games. Our goal is to offer previously unpublished writers support through mentoring, feedback, editing, and design services. AND they get paid for their work. We’re really excited to be bringing this to life, and we’ve already received enough support to begin the development process with four new designers. You can find out more about them and their games on the Different Play website (different from the Patreon site). I would, of course, suggest that you invest in this particular Patreon project. Contributions will directly aid the community in developing a more robust and diverse design scene, which only makes the scene healthier, stronger, and more interesting.

14dd8613133daaad183716792170c8deAll of us working on project CHINA decided to ice it for a few months, but in February we’ll be picking it back up again. The producers have put Tinker on hold for financing issues, and ADAM 8 is in the course of looking for its private investor funding, now that a sufficient chunk of pre-production has been put out. I’ve been so busy in the gaming industry that I haven’t pursued a whole lot of new Hollywood projects in the last few months. We’ll see what direction that goes from here.

As for the academic front, there’s been plenty going on there too. The AAR annual conference was hosted in my home city this year, so I got lucky. I passed my doctoral comp exams and received my masters degree in September. The paper I was publishing in the Wyrd Con Companion book got delayed, so it looks like it’s going in next round. I have several others in development, and I’m considering what conferences I want to submit to this year. My research with Carnegie Mellon’s game lab continues, and I’ve in fact branched out to assist with research in other areas of the HCI department as well. With assistance from Emily Care Boss I wrote a ludography of larp for CMU’s internal use. I also assisted with a study on massive online open classrooms (MOOCs). I’ve made friends at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) too, which is a separate department. I’ve been invited out to speak at their transformative game conference this spring, and I’m currently consulting for a game design class in which students are tackling the sticky topic of sexual assault. Working with everyone at CMU has been a great pleasure so far, and I really like the institution. Their HCI department is cutting edge not just in their approach to science, but in their approach to their own culture. I really dig it.

Coming up in February I’ll be attending Dreamation. I don’t have the full details for the tranformative games conference yet, but it’s looking to be some time in April. Looking even farther ahead, I will likely be spending a large chunk of my summer—roughly a month to a month and a half—volunteering for an NGO in India where I’ll primarily be teaching at a residential school.

2015 looks promising, both for me, and hopefully for what I can contribute to the community. Be well my friends.

Best,
Strix

Fall

I love fall. It’s my favorite time of year. It used to be because I loved the smell of decaying leaves and the swaying of the trees in the sharp wind. Now it’s also because I can get away with wearing more complicated costumes without melting in them : )

Wyrd Con was excellent. I introduced a zombie novelist to Dystopia Rising, did a little bit of the Hollywood shuffle, met with old friends, and made some new ones. I was much more relaxed about Wyrd Con this year, and it felt more like a homecoming than a networking event.

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I’m on the tail end of most of my current publication ventures, which is giving me some much needed breathing room. Most of it is now simply working its way through the pipelines while I wait. I am working on some new things, of course, but I won’t bother mentioning anything until the abstracts (hopefully) get approved.

I also did one little tiny part of the editing for The Larp Factory Book Project. It is an amazing collection of 22 Norwegian games, and I strongly, strongly suggest you pick up a copy if you are interested at all in this style of play. It would be a perfect introduction for the curious. Winter is coming. Just as inevitably, Nordic larp will find its way to the west coast. Might as well be ahead of the curve.

Coming up I will be at Comikaze Expo November 1st to 3rd in L.A. as cast for the Tinker steampunk web series. I will also be in L.A. November 29th to December 1st for LosCon 40, where I will be doing several panels, one of which will be on the mythology surrounding nightmares!

There are starting to be some rumblings that I may be making a trip out to the east coast circuit for Dreamation 2014 and Intercon N in February. I really loathe snow, so we’ll see.

My other projects are going great. Really happy with how my involvement with ADAM 8 has evolved and I am now looking towards being more directly creative myself in upcoming adventures.

One last thing that I want to mention to you, my wonderful readers, is that I have gotten several e-mails recently with questions and comments about academic pieces that I have written about myth, psychology, and gaming. First of all, THANK YOU. You have no idea how excited that makes me that you are engaging these ideas. Like really, cloud nine. That’s all an academic truly wants out of life. Second of all, I wanted to mention that I am always open to dialogue regarding these ideas. So if you’ve ever thought, Hey I want to ask Strix about this, or, She’s totally wrong! Someone should straighten her out, but haven’t felt like you could actually contact me about it, please know that I am open to whatever you have to say. As long as it is said respectfully, I will return the consideration.

That’s all for now. Ta!

Super Quickie

More news. Looks like I’m going to be sitting in on the panel “The United States of LARP,” moderated by the wonderful Lizzie Stark at GenCon. I’ll be alongside a few other really stellar leaders from the LARP community who I can’t name yet because it hasn’t been officially officialized and whatnot, but I know most of them and they’re awesome. If you’re going to be at GenCon this year and you are even remotely interested in LARP, you are going to want to catch this panel. It will be on Sunday at 11:00 AM. Mark it on your calendar now because GenCon gets crazy!

Also, I will have an IMBD page coming soon! I know, finally, right? Look for the little yellow icon up there in the right hand corner next to the other ones when it goes live.

That is all. NOW BACK TO WRITING.

P.S.
Eventually I’ll get around to actually talking about things that are interesting instead of just blasting my schedule at you, I promise. So please subscribe by clicking that orange button up at the top right there. Thanks, you’re a champ.

Stop and Breathe

I don’t have time to go into anything in detail, but I have a few things to announce and to chat about.

Firstly, what have I been doing? Writing, writing like crazy. I have four research papers coming due at Pacifica Graduate Institute, plus two (well, as of tonight, three) for publication. Yikes.

Over the next few months I will be authoring or co-authoring academic publications through:
The WyrdCon Companion Book
-The new journal being produced by the International Association of Comparative Mythology
-and a gaming and education anthology book with title yet to be released

I also just found out that I’m going to be co-editing next year’s Literary Journal for Pacifica Graduate Institute, but fortunately that is way far off.

Additionally I’ve been going over scripts from the ADAM 8 project and working on a short of my own!

Just this week I completed filming on the Crackhorse Productions short “High Speed” and reel footage for the Tinker Steampunk Series. I also broke my toe kickboxing. So there’s that.

Secondly, here’s what’s coming up in July:
Unfortunately, I had to cancel my RTX appearance, in which I was going to be sitting in on several panels about play theory and character psychology. I’m super bummed that I’m going to miss out, but the rest of my awesome team will still be there presenting, among them Sarah Lynne Bowman, my mentor and a kick-ass American LARP scholar. The panels should be streaming live, so don’t miss it!

However, I will be at both Gam3rCon and San Diego Comic-Con, at the same time magically somehow. That will be July 18th-21st. At GamerCon I will be helping with the Starship Valkyrie LARP, as well as running the Seekers Unlimited cocktail party. At Comic-Con I will be attending the LARP panel being run by friend and fellow Seekers compatriot Aaron Vanek, and maybe I’ll try to take a few seconds to have a good time. Say hi if you’re in the neighborhood! The best way to reach me while I’m running around doing these things is through Twitter. I’m @The_Strix.

Did I miss anything? I hope not. Catch you later!

© 2008-2016 by Strix