The IndieCade Report – Day 3

IndieCade – Sunday

My final day at IndieCade!

I arrived in time to catch the panel on misogyny in the industry. This was less a panel than a community group discussion about the problem(s) and possible ways to fix it. There were some good discussions to be had, but I felt that an hour was probably too short to really delve deeply into a subject so fraught and layered. I did get to vent about my personal frustrations with Twitter.

Twitter tangent: I think Twitter is a perfectly fine tool for networking, raising awareness and self-promotion. But many people are trying to have in-depth discussions using that platform; which can’t be done in 140 characters or less. That, coupled with Twitter’s pretty regressive policies regarding harassment, means I would cheer the day we all abandon Twitter and go back to LiveJournal (or, you know, WordPress [this blog brought to you by WordPress!]). But, as was pointed out, you can’t turn back the clock. Twitter is here to stay, until a better and more useful tool appears (I’m hoping Ello delivers on it’s promises, personally).

After the discussion, I went to the Service LARP. I was worried I had missed my chance, but was quite glad to learn that the designer, Shoshana K., had delayed starting until the panel I was in got out.

I have been really involved in what can be termed, for better or worse, the American LARP community for about a decade. I’ve done both theater-style MET games and boffer-style fantasy larps, and a whole bunch of one-shots in between. I’ve also run my fair share of games, and found a lot of creative fulfillment in doing so. And I’ve become aware, in the last few years, of the Nordic style of LARP; with it’s emphasis on personal interaction and a very rules-lite game. And as interested as I am in the form, I’d never gotten the chance to explore it. So I was really excited for the chance to participate in Service LARP.

The structure of the game is very basic: The setting is America in the near future, with the advent of World War Three. The draft has been reinstated, and you create a character who has been drafted. You may play yourself, or another, as you wish. Your character sheet is very basic, and includes only your name, one hope, one fear and one reason why you cannot serve.

I created Marjie McCoy, a Unitarian school teacher who accepted the draft as her duty as a citizen, but would not fire a weapon. This last part was directly influenced by a family story about my mother, who enlisted in the Army and then realized she had made a mistake. She got out of it when a nurse let slip that, if she refused to fire a weapon, they’d flunk her out of basic training and send her home. My mom (who is awesome) tells a story about a beefy drill sergeant getting in her face and screaming at her to fire her weapon. And my mother, barely an adult, telling him ‘No.’ So I created Marjie in part to try and connect with that part of my mother.

And then the game began! I liked the meta techniques used to help us get to know each other before the start of the game. I am not sure if they can easily be applied to a boffer larp, but they are definitely helpful when running a short game, with people who may not necessarily have met beforehand.

I don’t want to give away too much about the larp, in case any readers end up playing. But as my first introduction to a Nordic-style larp, I really enjoyed it. An hour went by extremely quickly (as I was enjoying myself) and also extremely slowly (due to the building sense of in-character dread). I really recommend it to anyone interested in a short but intense larp, or interested in exploring American interpretations of Nordic styles of larping. Find out more at Shoshana’s site! I am really glad I got the chance to play.

After the larp, it was lunchtime and me and my six new friends took part in the grand larp tradition of ‘afters’ – getting a meal together after the game has wrapped up. As I quipped on Twitter (yes, yes, I know): I came to IndieCade in large part to network; and I had middling success over two days. But take part in a single larp, and I have six new friends.

The larp and the afters did eat up most of my time, so I did not make most of the panels I otherwise would have liked to. I did attend one panel about politics in games, but I fear a lot of it was extremely dense. I would definitely have appreciated a longer panel to really dig deeply into the subject matter.

After that, I only really had time to peruse the games in the fire house before the conference ended. I got to play the demo of Never Alone! I can’t say how excited that made me! I love the idea of this game on so many levels, and I can’t wait for it to come out. The art looks fantastic, the puzzles seem well-designed and I adore the two-player mechanic. I’m glad I’ll have this game to tide me over until the release of Dragon Age:Inquisition!

And that was my IndieCade! Check back tomorrow for my overall impressions of the conference!