Knudepunkt 2015 Summary

Knudepunkt 2015 in Demark. A brief summary after I've recovered from the post-KP plague. :)

A Week Before

Events I attended during A Week in Denmark prior to the Knudepunkt conference:
  • Sun 8th Feb: trip to Danish larp campaign Tempus Vivo, played mostly by children and families
  • Mon 9th Feb: horror larp "I Dare You!", played at night in a (real!) decommissioned hospital
  • Tue 10th Feb: I skipped the official A Week event to visit GameTools, a Copenhagen-based serious games company that is our partner in Erasmus+ proposals
  • Tue 10th Feb: the release event of Knudepunkt books
  • Thu 11th Feb: Edu Larp CPH 2015 conference 
  • Thu 11th Feb: Nordic Larp Talks
I met dozens of nice and crazy people, old friends and new ones. I got new larp experiences and got to know more larp cultures and practices. I learned new board and card games at Bastard Cafe. I got talked into joining another international project. And I took several hours of free time just to stroll around Copenhagen. Thanks to Dan, my kind host, I found a way to one of the newly build neighbourhoods I would probably never visit myself. I had fallen in love with Copenhagen on my first visit back in 2013, and the feeling has not faded a bit.

Knudepunkt 2015

A totally frustrating schedule: with 6 or 7 programme items going on simultaneously, you attend one and regret losing the others. Yes, in most hours I would gladly go to every single talk and workshop on the list. Thankfully, at least the keynotes did not have competition. These were my choices:
  • Thu 19:00: Character Writing Workshop, borrowed from Larpwriter Summer School
  • Fri 10:00: Keynote: Rules
  • Fri 11:00: Larp Agency
  • Fri 14:00: Electronics for Larps from Russia
  • Fri 15:00: Keynote: Rooms
  • Fri 16:00: Practical Larp Design at College: A Game Worth the Candle (my own talk: presentation of the course in RPG / LARP design I ran in 2014 at Gamedec.UKW)
  • Sat 10:00: Keynote: Roles
  • Sat 11:00: Larp Database Similar to IMDB
  • Sat 14:00: Interpreting Recent History
  • Sat 15:00: Keynote: Bodies
  • Sat 17:00: Larp for Workers (co-creative session)
  • Sun: early departure after 1 hour of sleep :(
The English-speaking larp community is repeatedly being amazed by theories, design models and practices from the Russian-speaking area. Two years ago I witnessed the early stage of building bridges between the two worlds (adding one or two bricks myself, e.g. in Belarus 2013), and I expected huge development in the future. Now we are living in this future. We now have the Nordic-Russian Larp Dialogue book in English. We had Yaraslau Kot from Belarus speaking at Living Games conference in the US. The increasing number of Russians run programme items at KP. New Russian books on larp are brought each year by Alexey Fedoseev to Knutepunkt; they are not translated to English - but I will try to get my students to do that.

Then, there is the mind-blowing progress of larp in the Arab world, heralded by the first Nordic-Palestinian games some years ago, now reaching Turkey, Syria, Egypt and beyond. Four larpers came from Slovenia, where larp was introduced by Blaz Branc, who brought it from the EU study visit we hosted in Poland last year. (Now, if Blaz is the Father, he named me the Godfather of larp in Slovenia. :) ) On the other side, across the Atlantic, there is Nordic-American Larp Exchange, with the new book The Arts of LARP by David Simkins brought right to Knudepunkt. I came home with no less than five new books I can't wait to read, three from Northern Europe, one from the States, and one from Russia (this one will take loooong with my very rusty Russian).
So much for the high-brow items. Then, there were the room parties, the Meowtain, and the KP TV on the official schedule. And the unofficial events, starting with the College of Wizardry reunion. The line of czech-points on the way from the Bazaar to the Bar (a czech-point happens when you are stopped by Czechs and treated with vodka). The Polish aka Central European table with shameless fun poked at national issues (Like: Aleksey, Russia: "Don't worry, Michał, we'll soon live in one great country again." / Me, Poland: "Yes. One in which both of us will need to learn Chinese."). The T-shirt "I larped in Poland before it was cool" proudly worn by the Poles and the few foreigners who had actually larped in Poland before College of Wizardry.  The Russian guitar nights - once extended till 7 a.m. - with songs by V. Vysotsky. In simple words: The People Factor. Priceless.

Mike Pohjola receiving his 'I larped in Poland before it was cool' T-shirt. 
He had earned it genuinely at Copernicon 2011 in Toruń.

Then, the networking at the largest Knudepunkt ever, with nearly 600 participants from 30+ countries. Connections to people and organisations from around the world who may (or will) be partners for Gamedec.UKW, or Games Research Association of Poland, or my university. Projects I can contribute to as researcher, teacher, designer or organiser. Another grand scheme for an international larpers network, which I initially thought to be destined to fail like the previous ones, but I got convinced that This Time it may actually work. (I hate Knudepunkt for that. It fills my head with dozens of inspirations, ideas and projects I know I will never have time for. It hurts.)

In 2016, the Finns say the Knutepunkt/Solmukohta will take place on a boat on the Baltic Sea (sounds like a ferry-tale!). And in 2017, when it is time for Norway, there are talks about Norwegians hosting Knutepunkt in Poland. Seriously. What do you say to that?