It was recently announced that an all female run of LARP ”Mad About the Boy” was being set up in the US, bringing Nordic LARP across the pond for the first time. Gaming as Women decided to interview Lizzie Stark, organizer of the game and author of the book ”Leaving Mundania”.
Hey, Lizzie, could you tell us what ”Mad About the Boy” is all about?
Mad About the Boy is a larp about crisis, sexuality, relationships, and power.
The game takes place in a world where all of the men died of a mysterious disease three years ago. Now, the government is running a pilot program for artificial insemination, trying to figure out who gets the now-rare opportunity for motherhood.
What sort of game experience are you striving to give to the players?
We’re striving for an emotionally intense, immersive experience, one that examines the role of gender in our daily lives, and explores how women interact with one another.
We’d also like to introduce US players to Nordic-style larp, including pre-game workshops and post-game debriefs.
Have you gotten any interesting reactions about the choice to run an all female game?
We’ve gotten a range of reactions — many women have been thrilled at the prospect of an all-woman game, some men have been interested, but disappointed that they can’t participate.
The decision has also raised debate about gender in games, and a few folks have even called the run “sexist.” While I strongly disagree with the charge of sexism — we’re not arbitrarily limiting the gender of players, rather, we’re doing it to explore issues of femininity — I am glad that it’s got people talking about gender and sexism.
Are the any plans to run more Nordic style LARPs in the future so players of all genders can participate?
No hard plans at the moment, but if there’s interest, I’d be willing to explore a mixed-gender run of Mad About the Boy. And of course, a game like Just a Little Lovin’ seems like it ought to be run in the New York City area…
Mad About the Boy was originally set up in Norway in 2010 (twice) and was written by Norwegian writers1. You are bringing the game into a new cultural context in this run. Both IRL culture, and LARP cultures is quite different in the US compared to Norway. Did this create any cross-cultural challenges when organizing the game?
The main challenge we face is managing player expectations and helping players understand what they’re getting into, since Nordic-style larp differs from the US style familiar to so many of our players. To this end, there’s a little Nordic larp for noobs guide up on the website aimed at explaining some of the differences. And we hope to address some of the differences during the workshop phase of the game as well.
In-game, there’s a big difference between a post-apocalyptic Norway and a post-apocalyptic US, since the US is so huge. We have to reckon with a different set of quandaries within the game world — do the characters come from across the US or just one locale? And if the former, does that imply a strong central government? Would the US stay unified as one country, or break apart into different smaller nations?
To my eye, the main cultural differences out of game have to do with the game’s serious themes, the focus on emotional intensity, the structure with its workshops and debriefs, and meta-play.
Lucky for us, all three of the original Norwegian organizers will travel to Connecticut for the game, which should make understanding this new style of play easy for everyone.
Can you tell us something about the game design, the workshops and the debriefs you are going to do?
We’re adapting the original game libretto to fit a US-setting more closely. The game is organized into two acts, a longer first act about applying to this government program, and a shorter second act about how the women come together to make a vital decision. We’ll spend the first half-day of the game workshopping, introducing players to the mechanics, helping them flesh out their characters, and talking about what the world is like after all the men die. And we’ll spend the last few hours talking about the game, what was or could have been problematic, and saying goodbye to the characters and world we’ve created.
Finally, what would you like to say to players that might be curious about Mad About the Boy, but isn’t quite sure if this style of game is for them?
Feel free to ask questions on our Facebook group if you’ve got them. We’ve got a few folks new to larp signed up, and we’re committed to providing a supportive environment for new players, so please don’t let inexperience serve as a barrier.
In general, if you’re interested in trying something new and up for a serious roleplay experience, we’d love to have you.
(Anyone curious about the game can also watch this excellent Nordic Larp Talk by Tor Kjetil Edland about the two previous runs of the game. – Elin)
- Tor Kjetil Edland, Margrete Raaum and Trine Lise Lindahl. Tor Kjetil Edland was also one of the writers of Just A Little Lovin’ which Gaming As Women wrote about earlier this year ↩