ISAGA 2015: Hybrid Simulation & Gaming

ISAGA, the International Simulation and Gaming Association, one of the the oldest communities of people involved in the domain of gaming and simulation, holds its 46th annual conference in Kyoto (17-20 July 2015), jointly organised together with JASAG, the Japan Association of Simulation And Gaming. This year’s topic is “Hybrid Simulation & Gaming in the Network Society.”

ISAGA was founded in the 1970s and brings together professionals and scholars in the areas of computer gaming, interactive media, serious gaming, new learning technologies and much more in a powerful mix to solve many complex societal challenges. ISAGA has many regional chapters, one of which is JASAG, founded in the 1980s. Both organisations acknowledge that gaming transcends the boundaries of the humanities, social and natural sciences and thus seek to encourage truly interdisciplinary research and design projects.
The program of the ISAGA/JASAG 2015 reflects these goals and includes a plethora of talks and game sessions – two of which I am responsible for!
Please find the complete program here.

I will give an oral presentation and host a game session on July 19 (both co-written with Julia Becker, Dortmund).

Live-Action Roleplay; or the Performance of Realities

(Oral Presentation, 13:45-14:45 on 19th July)
Live-Action Roleplay (larp) has been named a “new performative art,” an immersive experience, and an educational tool but it is much more, a playground of intermingling social and cultural realities, a door to new worlds. This paper offers an introduction to larp, its transcultural history, and its disruptive and creative possibilities, as well as key aspects, such as immersion and pervasiveness. It sets the theoretical frame for the game session “Staying Alive,” in which the researchers but also the audience engage in a shared “mimetic evocation of ‘real-life experience’.”

Many aspects of “everydayness” can be called collateral realities, realities that are done implicitly, unintentionally, such as nations, cultures, time, or distinctions of subject and object, of presenter and audience – realities that could be different. Taking performativity seriously, larp can be a tool to step outside of a Euro-American common-sense ontology and its singular reality “out there” by playing with collateral realities and making their production explicit. During a larp, players (“larpers”) consciously undo objects and meanings, space and even their very bodies to creatively weave new material-semiotic fabrics. They become cultural mediators between a world-that-supposedly-just-is and its partially connected others, in which Japaneseness or Chineseness may fade and Elvishness is translated into a reality. With a global player-base, larping is not only a practice of intersubjective or cultural negotiations but also of intrasubjective mediation of cultural realities.

Keywords: Collateral Realities, Cultural Mediation, Larp, Live-Action Roleplay, Performativity

Staying Alive: A Live-Action Roleplay about Judging A Human’s Worth

(Game Session, 16:30-18:30 on 19th July)
Staying Alive” is a Kafkaesque drama about a commission’s questioning and judging of ordinary citizens about their worth for human society. This live-action roleplay (larp) in the Nordic tradition takes place in a hearing room setting with inquisitors, aspirants and an unlimited number of people acting as members of the commission. A participating audience is also present, making the game a good introduction for non-larpers/spectators. This is a larp which questions our societal systems, social interactions and the consequences of expressing random judgments.

The diegetic framework or setting for “Staying Alive” is more or less our world, just a bit more than 200 years in the future.

“The year 2234: Over two hundred years have passed since the Antarctic ice began to melt beyond the point of no return. Sea levels have risen, countries have vanished, societies have changed.
The ‘Protectorate of Ararat-Matsya’ is one of the few remaining state-like entities, providing protected and dry living space for its citizens. Protectorates are no nation-states but have a more corporation-like character, which in a sense allows for hiring and firing citizens.
With an increasing population and ever receding coast lines, however, this space shrinks each day. The government and ruling corporations have created gated estates in the mountains for ‘privileged citizens’ – those who are an asset to society. This makes rigorous citizen evaluation necessary.

This larp is about such evaluations of people.”

Genre: Absurd realism
Duration: 2 hours
Actual play time: 1.5 hours
Number of participants (min-max): 15-unlimited.
Possible locations: Black box, gallery, classroom, conference room
Equipment: Tables, chairs, a podium or a stand for the Aspirants
Playing style: Realistic, but with plenty of improvisation
(This game was inspired by “A Mother’s Heart,” conceptualised by Christina Christensen and Eirik Fatland; in Nilsen et al, 2013, Larps from the Factory (pp. 25–29). Copenhagen: Rollespilsakademiet).

If you are around Kyoto (Ritsumeikan Suzaku Campus), please drop by and say hallo! Or participate!