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Lizzie Stark
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What to know what Knutpunkt 2014 felt like? The first four episodes of Larp Lab, my new talk show with +Petter Karlsson can give you a taste!

In Episode 1 we take the bus and talk to British larper Adam James
In Episode 2 we chat with Knutpunkt organizer Gustav Nilsson
In Episode 3 we chat about the new hot concept of steering and American appropriation with +Sarah Lynne Bowman 
In Episode 4 we talk to a whole bunch of folks about one cool thing they saw at Knutpunkt.

http://www.larplab.tv/
Larp Lab takes the bus to Knutpunkt 2014!In the first episode of Larp Lab, Swedish larper Petter...
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A few cool social things I saw at Knutpunkt 2014.
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Never been to Knutepunkt before? I learned a few things from my first couple rodeos, and I present them to you, just in time for Knutpunkt.

http://lizziestark.com/2014/04/01/knutepunkt-noobs/
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The Nordic Larp Book: Now available as a PDF. GRAB IT NOW WHILE IT'S HOT!!!!!!

http://tampub.uta.fi/handle/10024/95123
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Thanks!
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Some things to consider--from a design perspective--when it comes to race and larp.

http://lizziestark.com/2014/03/24/race-in-larp-what-to-think-about/
If you want to make your larp less racist, here are a few things to consider, design-wise.
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Some great thoughts on cultural imperialism, Nordic larp and the term "American Freeform" from Finnish designer and Nordic larper +Juhana Pettersson. #knutpunkt2014

http://www.juhanapettersson.com/2014/04/nordic-larp-and-american-power/
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The dialogue is totally politicized.

I like the idea that adding "American" to something then constructs American as its own discrete identity and not as simply the norm.
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My new ebook, Pocket Guide to American Freeform launches at online retailers!

http://lizziestark.com/2014/04/03/pocket-guide-american-freeform/
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This is a really nice primer - a fast read that gets you up to speed. 
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On my way to Nordica for Knutepunkt. Those who can't make it: what do you want to know? What do you wish I would ask folks?
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I basically just consider it Nerd Christmas, where I get to see 200 of my best friends in the world. Larping? We only pretend to do it; it's all about the huggles.
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Oooh! The first of this year's Knutebooks is out. It's a convenient collection of the greatest hits of Nordic larp theory.

If you only read one Knutebook, this may well be the one to read. Free download!

http://nordiclarp.org/w/images/8/80/2014_The_Foundation_Stone_of_Nordic_Larp.pdf
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There is another one too--two books this year, both available from the Nordic larp wiki!
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Intriguing.
 
#SafeSpace
#SafeForWho

Your safe space… who is it ACTUALLY safe for?

Note, safe spaces are not actually safe. They may be SAFER. That's  generally understood that these spaces are not actually safe. We do our best, we can always do better, we make mistakes, learn, and grow. But let's focus on the "FOR WHO?" part.

Many people who have been bullied, marginalized, and more growing up deeply care about fairness. But this fairness can be distorted by high levels of insecurity and cognitive dissonance… mutating into what many famously refer to as the Geek Social Fallacies: http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

The challenge with social fallacies is that if you blur your eyes just right… they may seem… reasonable. Let's dig further keeping in mind the context of safe/safer space.

Geek Social Fallacy #1: Ostracizers Are Evil

People who were ostracized unjustifiably and cruelly growing up might find the notion of excluding others as adults to be evil. The concept of evil is an already questionable one… when we know someone's story… we can empathize with almost anyone… but many problems are people problems and despite the ability to empathize that does not mean we can't take action… BUT we also don't have to label things as evil simply to make our own positions more palpable. As a result, groups who are anti-ostracizers may claim to offer inclusive spaces (or safer spaces) but…

…including 1 person can often be the same as excluding another.

I've frequently seen people knowingly invite BOTH abuser and abused to the same social function in the spirit of inclusiveness. That isn't inclusive. This is turning a blind eye. 

And this escalates… as new people see how social abusers are allowed to do whatever they want… it hinders new people from joining a social group or event. 

I run pre-convention workshops for organizers to empower them to exclude those who cause problems (of course problems are relative, it depends on your goals). Say we are at a gaming event, organizers often worry… 

"I can't kick someone out… they paid money to be here." 

And I empathically and enthusiastically tell them… 

"YES YOU CAN… bit first… if you want… talk to them, explain, model behavior, give chances, try to be fair, apologize if you misjudged, don't be mean BUT if someone is causing a problem with no solution in sight… then you have the power to exclude them… and if you don't want to… grab me and I will exclude them for you because remember… the other people at your event ALSO paid to be there and by overly worrying about a single person causing a problem because they paid to be there… YOU ARE BY INACTION EXCLUDING THE MANY OTHER PEOPLE who also paid to be there!"

Now, sometimes problems are not problems… or not willful intentional problems. 

Often problems are miscommunication or misunderstanding. 

A person came for a certain type of event, many others came for another type… but you didn't want to overly specify what the event was and wasn't so you could be inclusive… end result… problems galore (and in this case the problem may have started with you). 

When you avoid the work and hope problems just goes away, often more problems arise and to fix it will cost more work than having dealt with it immediately. Be clear what something is AND is not, be potentially exclusive if being inclusive means being less clear and potentially deceiving… and give people enough information so it's their choice… they can knowledgably opt in or out.

But some people are not self-aware. 
Telling them what's up isn't being rude… many WILL THANK YOU! 

And of course popular does not equal right and I'm often hesitant to side with majorities over minorities given my own political leanings and beliefs that status quod doesn't make something right… so I will go out of my way and if an event is NOT for someone… I will offer to help them find something that is for them. 

Geek Social Fallacy #2: Friends Accept Me As I Am

NO

We can both be fans of a certain type of thing or know the same people or have history BUT if you are sexist.. I DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT. And when I create spaces… I try to think of who they are safer for and who they are NOT safe for. I don't care if we both like D&D, the spaces I try to create are NOT safe for you to be sexist. They are NOT SAFE SPACES for you!

Safe Spaces ARE NOT safe for everyone. It feels good to say Safe Space. But you might be helping to  hurt others by being inclusive. 

Geek Social Fallacy #3: Friendship Before All

I've had the unfortunate experience of seeing people defend their friends no matter what. And to some degree I can understand this and in a romantic way it's endearing. But I don't care if your best friend is the "best person ever" and could never actually be racist… if they say racist things… I DO NOT CARE WHO THEY ARE… or who they are to you… I don't even care if they are racist… on some level we are all racist because we living within a racist system… BUT I DO CARE ABOUT THEIR ACTIONS… not their identity politics. See: How To Tell Someone They Sound Racist

As someone who deals with the law, I don't take defamation lightly. And less practically, when I have named names, the people screaming for me to do so didn't have the backs of the people affected and it turned into a victim blaming show. I don't care about what makes you feel good or entertaining you. I care about real people in real situations. 

Before people scream NAME NAMES… read this short 3 panel comic: http://www.sff.net/people/jchines/Pics/Harassment.jpg

As an event organizer, I've run events for 1,000s of people over 10 years and I've seen all this to ridiculous degrees. People make excuse after excuse for their friends sexually assaulting someone else and on and on and on, again and again. Hell, I've seen people forgive or turn blinds eye to AWFUL behavior because actions DO NOT MATTER to them… just who they like and don't like… who is part of their identity… who is not. But that is not my concern and if it mean making an event safer for the people the event is for… and if making it safer means excluding your friends… then I will do exactly that.

It’s the same with anti-harassment policies. I've written several of them for conventions. But I don't care what you policy says… I don't care about words… I care about actions and I care about how you enforce your policies. Safer spaces are not about being inclusive for everyone. To truly be safe for some, we have to do the hard work of excluding others. 

It's really easy to be political when it's words… not actions… and comes at no cost.

When you say your space is safe…   
   …who is your space safe for?
      …who is your space unsafe for?
         …what are you willing to do to actually make this happen?
            …and are you willing to do it… to stick by your morals… even when it isn't easy?


Credits:
- Dudebro photo taken by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
- Safe Space logo by http://fortytonone.org/
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Compelling narrative writing. Journalist and author of LEAVING MUNDANIA, a book about larp.
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Compelling narrative writing. Author of Leaving Mundania (Chicago Review Press, 2012), a narrative nonfiction book about larp.

Lit-mag editor, freelance journalist, and larp blogger.

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

I know a lot about larp. And pickles.
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