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Corrosive Shame
Therapy for Life
It's not over until the fat kid sings…
In response to some of the discussions following Odyssey, which wasn't my favourite event ever but I'm getting over that now.


My name is Simon, and I am a nerd.

When I was at school I was overly intellectual - I wore glasses, I did well in exams and I hated sport. I remember vividly enjoying cricket because I could sit and read a book in the outfield, and when playing rugby was never quite fast enough to catch the person I was chasing and have to tackle them into the mud.

Formative experiences like these stay with you for years, so when designing Odyssey one of the early decisions was to look, wherever possible, for areas of the game where the 'fat kid' (as I referred to myself from those memories) wasn't left out. The most obvious examples of this are the arena and quests. In both these cases more champions are useful - it's not about choosing between one champion or another, or picking the best team - everyone gets a fight or a quest so the more 'fat kids' you involve the better it is for your nation.

This means that inclusion is built in from the foundations. It's about producing a game where people are encouraged to bring their friends and make them feel welcome, where the social side of the game sits alongside combat, puzzles, gods and politics.

Inclusion means characters and players. Character inclusion is more straightforward - they are created to serve a purpose and the choices in character creation are clear signals to the game organisers and other players where the players would like to spend their time. Inclusion of players can be more complicated. Superficially it is simple - events are public access and as such anyone can attend; but my problems start when one player's behaviour makes another feel excluded. This might be because they are fat or thin, bald or hirsute, straight or gay, male or female, tall or short - all manner of reasons. But whatever the issue about the player that can be mocked - and whether it is meant in jest or all seriousness, this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in our game.

There are plenty of ways to insult peoples characters rather than their players; to enjoy roleplaying without it being offensive roleplaying; to keep it fun.

We tried to build a game where everyone who wanted to be in could be, whether they were the lead batsman or the outfield bookworm, so behaviour that makes any player feel otherwise is not welcome.

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9 lies or Lie to me
furzepig From: furzepig Date: August 19th, 2011 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Hear hear!

One of the many things I love about the game is the inclusive approach. It sucks that there are some that don't want it that way.

I too was the nerdy fat kid that hated sport. In many ways I still am - however Odyssey has shown me for the first time ever that combat can be enormous fun. It's great that being female and playing a soldier isn't in some way considered 'unusual' in the game's setting.
lady_dinosaurus From: lady_dinosaurus Date: August 19th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)
If it helps, despite the incident on Friday night, this Odyssey was probably my best larp event ever, or is at least tying with the previous best larp event ever...
knightclubber From: knightclubber Date: August 19th, 2011 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I think an awful lot of us were 'the fat kid' or some version thereof. These days I am 36 years old and have managed to build a version of myself that I'm pretty happy with and can usually project confidence (I also note that role playing in general and live role playing in particular were really big parts of that process), but that is a very long way from where I was at school. Despite which, it doesn't take much to reduce a seemingly confident, happy, capable person to feeling like that geeky kid who everyone is laughing at again.

The greatest thing about larp IMO is that it gives someone the chance to be the hero they wish they were, the person who everyone respects. In my ideal scenario, once someone realises they can play this person, they also realise they can be like that in real life too. It can take the person who never dares speak up because all they expect is for the cool kids to laugh at them and help them see a new side to themself. To a large extent it did that for me.

So that is my manifesto for larp at its best- offering not just escapism and fun but a chance for people to make an improvement in the quality of their real life. Conversely, if people behave in a way which knocks others back for OC issues and makes them feel like they are excluded- that would be larp at its worst.

I'd far rather come away from a game where a few people had not pulled their blows and left my body bruised than one where I'd been made to feel emotionally worthless. One of them has a lot less effect on my journey through life.
serpentstar From: serpentstar Date: August 19th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Agreed, on all counts (speaking as a confident, happy, lean, fit, 41-year-old who used to be a fat, asthmatic, bullied teenager).

It does have to be said that there things that happen in LRP that can leave players feeling emotionally worthless, without that having been anyone's intent. That's not an excuse for the frequently thoughtless actions & words of some players, though -- it should be possible for all LRPers to be at least a little bit sensitive to others' experiences and perceptions, even in a PVP game.
lupercal From: lupercal Date: August 20th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely this.

Sorry you didn't have the best event, Simon.
From: pax_draconis Date: August 19th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sad you haven't come away from this one with the same sense of achievement I have. In spite of all the flotsam and jetsam I think we knocked it clean out of the park in terms of the core purpose of being in that field.

I also think you'll feel maybe a bit different on the other side of the post-event blue. In spite of very early onset I was wise to it this time and (one irritating lapse of judgement on R7 aside) managed to keep it in a box.

Anyway. Know where I am if you want to talk any stuff through.
agentinfinity From: agentinfinity Date: August 19th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I felt this one was the best so far as well.
From: ikkleblacktruck Date: August 20th, 2011 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
So you're not dead then. :)
sixtine From: sixtine Date: August 29th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
What you do here is acknowledge that the game is a commercial product; it is not designed to mirror real life in a fantasy environment. It allows for only certain social interactions; the positive and/or PC ones.

The product is only successful if fat kids can join in and feel valued. As you say, providing mechanics to enable activity for fat kids is easy enough. Intrinsically though, the physical characteristics of the character are those of the player so C21st PC rules are applied because it's a C21st product. The rules outside the game say it's offensive to physically criticise so they have to be the same in the game.

Commercial isn't a dirty word. It's security that people can have fun in a safe environment, physically and socially.
9 lies or Lie to me