This year’s Solmukohta book will be titled What Do We Do When We Play? It focuses on exactly that — the player experience, how we all larp, and the skills involved, both individually and as communities.
Everyone who had a ticket to Solmukohta will still receive a printed copy, as will all the editors and authors. We’re not quite sure how they’ll be shipped, yet, but we’re working on it. We also still expect to have a limited number of books from the first print run available for sale. At some point after the initial print run has been shipped, we plan to make the book available via print-on-demand.
The Book Team
Every year a new team takes up the mantle of producing a book for the Solmukohta/KP conferences. The year, the editorial team is Eleanor Saitta, Johanna Koljonen, Jukka Särkijärvi, Anne Serup Grove, Pauliina Männistö, and Mia Makkonen, plus a long list of folks who provided editorial assistance and proofreading. All together, we had 73 authors who produced 85 pieces for the book.
Over the past couple of years, folks on the book team and across the Nordic community have seen something new in our conversations. As we’ve worked to make what we know about larp design more rigorous and started teaching it more formally, we realized we still don’t understand what people do when they play. We know how to play, both individually and as a community, but we aren’t good at talking about it.
Some of the pieces in this year’s book focus on providing explanatory structures and metaphors to think with that describe what we see happening in play. Other pieces offer personal perspectives on how the authors have been able to best solve specific kinds play challenges, giving you more tools in your toolbox to play with.
We can’t (and wouldn’t try to) say what makes a “good player”, or to set a normative bar for “you must know these nineteen things to play well”. Rather, we’d like to help our community find more words to describe things that some players do, and ways for people who also want to do those things to learn.
Larp in the Nordic style is a collaborative medium, at its best when players, producers, designers, and community organizers all divide responsibilities in flexible ways. Even during runtime, the work we do in play is rarely done alone. Runtime does not define the boundary of the larp, however. The social and organizational environment of the larp, of its player community and surrounding communities, are also places where skilled work matters and where we can become better at what we all do, together.
With this book, we’ve worked a bit differently to try to open up new territory and write about things we don’t yet understand.
The first step in this process was an open call for attendees to a theory retreat in Helsinki. On May 9th-12th, the book team and everyone who had applied (25 people in total) spent four days exploring in a broad-strokes way the range of what we don’t currently understand about how we play. We barely scratched the surface, so don’t worry if you couldn’t be there.
From there, we shared some of the documentation from the retreat and discussed topics that might be of interest in this Facebook group. From there, we had a call for papers for a few different types of pieces.
This book intentional doesn’t try to speak with a single, unified voice — it’s too early in the process of understanding player skills for that — but we have tried to align terminology as much as possible, to make our conversations on the subject easier.