Play Journal LEA vol. 3 – Breaking the Gap

by Thom Kiraly

Monday, apart from being an intense work day, was when we finally met up with the people (well, some at least) staying in Oslo for the week in Norway event leading up to Knutepunkt. What better way to break the ice than boardgames (and loads of beer)? Well, you could always go to a larp written as part of the Larp Exchange Academy. That’s what I did. I’ll talk about the party games and boardgames after the larp.

Mind the Generation Gap – An old theatre is going bankrupt and the solution for this particular one is to bring in the old director with his crew of old-timers and mix them with the young, fresh, albeit inexperienced crew. Surely, as long as they work together they will be able to save the theatre, won’t they? Yes. As long as they don’t get put into uncomfortable constellations and groups full of people who disagree about practically everything, that is. As long as the director isn’t close to insanity and the owner of the theatre threatens to fire half of the group.
First of all, this was the only LEA (Larp Exchange Academy) larp I participated in as a player during our week in Oslo. It was played the day before our group ran the larp we had written and was quite enough to fill my larp quota for that day. Wednesday, when the other larps were run, was my day to chill out, go to a laundromat café and write this sort of stuff, so I missed the larps played that day.
BTW. As I’m writing this, I’m on a bus leaving Oslo for Knutepunkt. I’m tired and hungry. I’m also listening to wonderful angry music. My analysis may leave something to be desired. Just saying.
We did some pre-game stuff. Who knows what it was? Not me. [edit: OK, so I remembered that we threw a bunch of balls around to practice eye-contact. We also did a nice little game called The Wind Blows For Those Who…]
We picked characters. They were handed out based on how old we said we felt like during the pre-game exercises. Those who felt young played old and vice versa. I played young (yes, that means I feel old. After a week like this, who wouldn’t?)
We played. We shouted. A lot. Looooads of shouting, ok? So much that the office we played in got complaints the next day. The game did manage to produce several funny moments, but sometimes that was more due to the absurdity of the situation more than anything else. I did, however, get to beatbox a dubstep rendition of the Imperial March. I hoped no one shot it and put it up online.

Now! For the other, shorter games I played.

Bloop – Always a great icebreaker. This was really a perfect moment to throw the iPad on the table and just go crazy with all of the local multiplayer stuff I have. As usual, the game really kicked into full speed once people started pushing each other’s hand out of the way and being mean in general. Since most of the people playing were larpwriters/game designers, we quickly came up with variant rules to play with. My favorite was probably when we agreed to only use our thumbs. I felt like an ogre caught in a bad bet. Yes, that’s the exact feeling I had. Stop limiting my creativity.

Ready, Steady, Bang! – Another simple and quick game. Maybe not super deep play, but the ability to challenge people to a duel is very satisfying. Especially when you’re the one walking away victorious.


Orbit1 – A bit more advanced and that shows right away. This game is really for people used to playing video games. Even though the interaction is simple (pushing or not pushing a button to control a spaceship) it takes a lot of finesse. I didn’t actually play this one, I only showed it and gave some quick instructions. The instruction screen is not very helpful. I think too much is being conveyed at the same time.


Spaceteam – Yes! I’m so happy every time I get to play Spaceteam. This time, I played on my phone and the others took turns using the iPad. I’m still waiting to try out the advanced and experimental modes of the game (yes, I bought every single upgrade in the app).

Saboteur – I love this game! So simple, so quick to teach new players, so much potential for deep fun. I don’t remember the last game to get me this excited. Can’t believe people who know me haven’t just grabbed me, sat me down at a table and forced me to try it for my own good. The four games I played had me screaming, laughing and going through complete mindfucks. The best part was, without a doubt, the part where one player did an unnecessary bluff because she had misinterpreted a rule
Oh, did I mention that I lost every single game I was in? Yeah, well, I did. It’s still one of the best things I’ve played in a long time.
Kill Doctor Lucky – Not as bad as I had thought, but it has definite problems with the game dragging on for way too long. I ended the game by completely misreading the other players and not saving the Doctor from being killed. No one seemed to mind, though, and I guess that says a lot.