Solmukohta Special: Visibility

Karsten Dombrowski, Frida Sofie S. Jansen, Elge Larsson, Lizzie Stark at the panel. Photo (c) Rafael Bienia

It does not matter how much effort you put into your hobby. As long as you are not good, you cannot expect that someone will be interested enough to understand your doing. It is a hobby. Stereotypes are used when people simply do not care about you. As there are few positive stereotypes and we role-players do not share any one of them, the only way out is to become so good that you are not ignored anymore. In this blog entry I will not ask how to become good, as this is not a larp related topic, but what larpers can do to improve their reputation (if they need or want that).

Panel discussion on “How to Communicate About Larp to a Mainstream Audience?”

First of all, thanks to the organizer Jonas Trier-Knudsen for an interesting dicussion with good contributers. During the panel about how to present ourselves towards the public, much was said from journalists’ sides, but also from the non-professionals’ viewpoint. I will not repeat here the whole discussion, as I have been familiar with most things said and didn’t pay much attention to “treat journalists not as stupid people”, “ask them questions about what they are interested in and what they want to see”, etc. Some points were new to me or reassured my opinion. Here are some points from my notebook:

  • Lizzie (US journalist) said: Larp in the US is geeky. Although the image of satanists is not widespread, most larpers fight this stereotype back. – This is an intriguing thought, because I also critize the ‘geek pride’, only enforcing a picture of my social group which I have always battled and is now embraced.
  • Karsten’s (German journalist) strategy is to explain larp in the language of your audience. If you talk to teachers, talk about improvisional theatre. If it is the military, use comparisons to training and maneuver. Dr. Michal Mochocki added later some words about the importance to define the target audience you want to talk. He explained the hopelessness to reach the mass audience, as you will always fail to reach 100% of all. The better plan then, is to focus.
  • One of the Nordic larp organizers added something to which I can only agree: larp has not the negative reputation, larpers might think it has. Starting to explain the hobby in a defensive way only reinforces your projection.
  • The discussion went on and the question to the journalists was how to work with the press. Grab the telephone, explain a clever idea in one minute and connect your project to something the journalist is interested in (Karsten). So prepare before you call someone from the press. Maybe rehearse with a friend. Be relaxed and brief and concise and open minded and don’t take a rejection personal … it is like a job interview. If the journalist is interested, ‘make sure that you can send additional information in three minutes’ (Karsten). And make sure it is well written.
  • Cold contacts should be avoided. (Lizzie)
  • Juhana Pettersson added: high resolution photos on your website help. ‘No photo, no story’
  • Beyond the panel, Claus Raasted said in the Nordic Larp Talks 2012 basically: Call it larp.

Some further notes can be found in Thomas’ blog, just scroll down to the topic. What has this panel to do with visibility? I think at the moment, that the only way to achieve visibility of larp or weaken the negative stereotype the public has (far or less) about larpers is to become better than we are at the moment. This includes many things and there are even more ideas how to solve the problem. I suggest the following one: more publishing. Reasons:

  • More information accessible, more mistakes prevented, new methods spread and sometimes young ideas choked (yes, this is a downside)
  • More synergy and emergence effects due to cooperation. It must not happen immediately, but the chance rises.
  • More understanding what larpers do will lead to better larp designs, to some extent.

Therefore I try to gather as much useful and interesting websites as possible and put them on one blog. My understanding of larp would have been much better, if I had known half of the pages earlier. To prevent other people from the same frustration, please send add suggestions for How to study role-playing games in the comment section below.

This was the second blog entry in my series on Solmukohta2012. Every Friday for the next seven weeks, I will tell you what I have learnt at the Solmukohta 2012 larp conference. The idea of posting regularly every week on larp is a homage to Lizzie Stark.

Additionally, I will add a new gallery of larp photos I have taken in the last years to my blog section on Larp photography.

Thanks to you for reading and facebooking my posts! I do my best so that you have something interesting to read. More to come – show me your interest and support me by subscribing to this blog!

Yours,
Rafael

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