Call for Programming: Living Games Conference
Where: Holiday Inn Midtown, Austin, TX
When: May 19-22, 2016
Larp is playful; larp is interactive; larp is a super-charged way to create community. And that’s what you can expect from the Living Games Conference–a playfully interactive community dedicated to pushing larp to the next level.
The theme of Living Games Austin is Sharing Insights. We invite practitioners from North America and beyond to visit our conference and share their amazing knowledge of the existing larp community and its potential. Whether you’re a recent convert to this interactive art form, a lifelong fan, or a member of a related community looking for inspiration, we welcome you. We need your help to push larp to the next level.
Larp’s possibilities are expansive. In recent years, we’ve seen interactive theater designers, museum curators, corporate trainers, transmedia designers, teachers, and amusement park coordinators look to larp for fun and inspiration. No matter your level of familiarity with larp, at Living Games you’ll be able to learn about the form and its potential. Come join us to learn about experience design, explore the logistics of organizing, improve your methods for playing a character, discover the latest scholarship in the field, and join the worldwide network of larp enthusiasts and experts.
We welcome pitches for program items you’d like to organize, as well as pitches on topics you’re eager to learn about but would like someone else to handle.
What is Larp?
At its heart, larp is highly organized pretend play. Larps let you take the role of a character and meet up with other characters to explore a setting or situation. From there, the format is incredibly diverse. You can play Frodo in Lord of the Rings in monthly installments over the course of years. You can also play a piece of garbage in a Thomas Beckett-like setting for a few hours. Some games require elaborate costumes and props, and some games have none. It’s hard to make generalizations about larp, but if you’re playing a character with other characters in a physical places, you’re probably larping.
Larp, and techniques drawn from larp are highly applicable to other settings. It’s possible to teach children exclusively through larp, as one junior high school in Denmark has proven. The US government uses larp to train its soldiers and practice disaster response. Medical students diagnose “standardized patients” who are paid role-players. Theater groups harvest larp techniques for use in participatory theater, and digital game designers use them to practice experience design.
Larp can be all of these things–a teaching tool, a theatrical experience, fun, relaxing, cathartic, and more. We welcome many interpretations of larp at Living Games.
Sharing Insights With One Another
North America has a long and distinguished tradition that stretches back nearly fifty years. It is home to a wide array of larp and related traditions, from the sweeping padded combat battles of boffer larp to the intellectual puzzles and resource management of traditional Intercon games, to the political machinations of Vampire games and the emotion-laden theatricality of emerging freeform traditions.
Come share your larp traditions with us, whether you live in North America or beyond. When we all contribute, the larp tradition grows stronger, whether you’re sharing methods, borrowing from related traditions, or trying to create something new.
Our core conference theme is Sharing Insights, and of course, we just can’t do it without you. Together, we can learn from this incredible variety of traditions.
Formats and Tracks
Within the core theme, we’d like each programming idea to fit into one of the following hour-long formats:
- Panel: Three presenters plus one host, each speaking for 10 to 12 minutes with a short Q&A to follow.
- Round Table: Three to four presenters, plus one moderator, having a conversation with each other and the audience.
- Show and Tell: Six to 15 presenters, plus a moderator, each speaking for two to five minutes. We envision this format as working well for getting a bunch of techniques, ideas, upcoming events, or existing larps on the table.
- Workshop: This format focuses on teaching participants new techniques. Rather than “come learn by listening,” this format invites people to “come try things out.” One to three presenters will help participants try out, for example, a new combat or romance technique, using physicality to represent your character, and so on.
- Keynotes: The Living Games Programming Committee will invite a dozen participants to give keynote speeches of about 20 minutes, focused on the theory, practice, and innovations within larp as well as to represent certain larp traditions. Interested in hearing someone particular speak? Please let us know!
In addition to the main conference theme of Sharing Insights, Living Games will feature a number of different tracks. A track approaches one aspect of larp. We invite programming that fits within the below framework:
- Intro to Larp: Geared toward people new to the community, who want to learn some of the basics about what larp is and catch up on community discussion.
- Community: Larps create communities. We want to hear all your great ideas about how to build and manage the communal project of larp.
- Organizing: Bring us your producers, your logistics people, and your business experts. We want to hear about the challenges of organizing larps and hopefully some solutions.
- Designing: How do you design a game that provides a satisfying play experience for many different people? This track is for new and old designers with fresh and tried and true approaches to the core issues in larp design.
- Playing: We want to hear about tips and tricks for playing a character, or other items that approach larp from a player perspective.
- Academic: We invite academic presentations and papers on your larp research. Paper presentations will be reviewed by the Academic Committee and have a slightly different format from the ones listed above. Participants can expect to present their research in 15 to 20 minutes followed by a Q&A. Papers are due at least a month in advance of the conference for peer review and possible inclusion in the Living Games Conference Proceeding.
What is a conference without a party docket? Feel free to pitch one-hour parties, pervasive games, or other fun ways of connecting to our social committee at email@example.com.
Playing Games at Living Games
In the evening slot, you will have the opportunity to play games related to some of the keynote speeches. We’ll put out a special call for games at a later date: stay tuned!
Edu-Larp Mini Conference
We are partnering with Texas State University to host a one-day Role-playing and Simulation in Education conference at the St. David’s School of Nursing simulation lab in Round Rock, TX. This mini conference will take place directly before the start of Living Games on Thursday, May 19, 2016 between 9am-4pm. The Role-playing and Simulation Conference is free to the public.
Please see the Call for Presentations if you would like to participate. We plan to feature a mixture of edu-larp and simulation demos; panels; posters; and paper presentations. We encourage professional practitioners and scholars to submit. Accepted academic papers are due one month before the conference and will be peer reviewed for inclusion in a conference proceeding. The deadline for abstracts is January 3.
We Value Diversity
We want our speakers to be as diverse as the larp tradition. And the larp tradition is extremely diverse.
We’d like to see speakers of many different ethnicities, classes, locations, and genders. We’d like to see people speak from within many different disciplines and larp or larp-adjacent communities.
When assembling program items, we encourage you to ask folks from outside your immediate community to collaborate. If you don’t have someone in mind, we are delighted to help match speakers with similar interests.
How To Pitch
Step 1: Come up with an awesome idea for a program item.
Step 2: Tell us about it in this handy Google form.
You’ll need to include a title for your program item, along with a couple sentences about your idea. We’ll also need to know what format you’ve selected, which track your program idea fits under, and a sense of who you’d like to involve as co-presenters. Folks submitting to the Academic track will need to include a 350 to 500 word abstract with at least three peer-reviewed, scholarly references.
Step 3: Chat up our program coordinators when they reach out to you via email.
After receiving your pitch, we might have some questions for you. And once accepted, you’ll be assigned a program coordinator who will serve as a resource to help you develop your presentation and connect you with resources and additional potential speakers.
Academic Program Items: January 3.
All Other Program Items: January 15.
Within two weeks of the pitch deadline, we’ll get back to you with questions, comments and queries about your program item.
Is there someone you’d just love to hear speak? We’re always building our network. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Looking forward to seeing all your brilliant ideas!
– The Living Games Programming Team