The Games! They’re Alive!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Living Games Conference in Austin, Texas. Living Games, which started in 2014 at the NYU Game Center, is “a conference devoted to discussing all aspects of live action role-playing (larp) theory and practice.” Although all of my research and experience in analog games had been in tabletop rather than larp, I was excited that the organizers were interested in helping to bring together scholars, designers, and organizers from a wide variety of games, including tabletop.

The conference definitely exceeded my expectations. One of the cool things about LGC is that it combines an academic track that produces peer-reviewed conference proceedings with great presentations on other tracks like “Community” and “Design.” This brings together theory and practice, and helped to create an excellent diversity of views and experiences among  the attendees. Even better, they offered a great variety of games to sign up for each evening. Swinging a foam sword at an academic colleague during an Amtgard tournament is an opportunity that more conferences should provide.

I’m not telling you all of this just to make you jealous, or even just to pique your interest in the next LGC, which will be in 2018. I’m telling you this because of one other great thing about Living Games: it was extensively and thoroughly documented. Nearly all of the sessions were recorded, and are being publicly released as fast as the editors can work through them. So head on over to their YouTube channel and check out all of the amazing videos, like this presentation on larping in orphanages by Russian anthropologist Anna Konovalenko:



About Nick Mizer

Although much of my work focuses on tabletop role-playing games, I think that geek culture in general has a lot to offer for anthropological study, from understandings of modernity and consumerism to the role of the imagination and wonder in the midst of those more “serious” trends. As I explore these things, I find myself straddling the borders between anthropology, folkloristics, and performance studies.

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