Archive for December, 2012

comments on Nordic LARP

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

From Paul Graham Raven’s This Is a Game: A (very) Brief History of Larp Part 1:

But in the next instalment, I’ll argue that Nordic larp has a socially disruptive potential that makes it the more interesting end of the scene, while marking it as both an artform native to contemporary network culture and a new experimental praxis in narrative theory…

From This is More Than a Game: A (very) Brief History of Larp Part 2:

True to its network-culture demographic, however, the openness and conviviality of the Knutepunkt circuit stand in stark contrast to the more staid conferences of the liberal arts, resembling science fiction fandom conventions — an important nursery for larp of all types — far more than literary symposia; open discussion and dialogue are not just important to the scene, but central to it. It’s as if the community itself is a collective author, a gestalt entity — an interesting counterpoint for an artform where authorship is inherently unstable and slippery.

All this would be of some note even if larp were just another branch of the plastic or narrative arts as we already know them. What’s fascinating about larp is its seeming potential: all art could be considered software which interacts with the localised cultural operating system running on the platform of our minds, but larp goes one step further, achieving its aesthetic affect by kludging, amending or outright rewriting that code — hacking it, in other words. If mainstream larps are the equivalent of the homebrew software BBSs of the Eighties, developing and sharing new games to play on their newly-accessible hardware, then perhaps the Nordic school are equivalent to the FOSS hacker hardliners, trying to see how completely they can PWN the machine. Pure diversion and escapism have been sidelined somewhat in favour of philosophical and ideological exploration. The language of theory is everywhere, including many scene-specific coinings and neologisms: ‘narrative bleed’ (not always as undesirable as it might sound, apparently); ‘diegetic briefings’; ‘fictional positioning’; ‘formal transparency’. ‘Metagaming’. {…}

Stark suggests that “intense larp gameplay creates an altered state of consciousness”, and as I read game-design papers from the Knutepunkt circuit I kept hearing echoes bouncing back from Timothy Leary’s psychedelic theories of “set and setting”. Implicit in both is the idea that not only is the mind plastic, but that experimenting with that plasticity is something akin to a duty, a possibility for personal development that shouldn’t be passed up by those brave enough to take the plunge and step outside of themselves; a willing step toward becoming one’s own post-Nietzschean ubermensch, if you like. So we might say that the Nordic larp scene is pioneering the development of a new toolkit for meddling with identity and empathy; a non-invasive intervention methodology based on consensual manipulation of environmental triggers and narrative framing.

from Everything is a Game: A (very) Brief History of Larp Part 3:

Furthermore, there’s a realisation that the psychological phenomena which larp explores and manipulates might just be the missing link between a whole bunch of artforms, technologies and philosophies. Perhaps it is the ubiquity of the toolset in use, namely the human imagination, that lends it this interstitial quality: conceived in reductionist terms, Nordic larp is simply imagination-as-play.

Where does experimental theatre end, and consensual indoctrination into a covert ideology begin? Can a temporary intentional community, in and of itself, be a form of performance art? Can a performance art piece become a political movement instead of just a statement? These questions pivot on the fluid dualities of fiction and reality, of reader and subject, which can be upended with a flick of the wrist or a twist of the frame; if we assume altermodernism to have accepted and integrated (if not fully approved of) the ubiquitous ontological hollowness of the postmodern condition, then might Nordic larp be one of the first truly altermodernist forms, an experimental laboratory for the breeding of new metanarratives? {…}

No contemporary discussion of identity and allegiance would be complete without a mention of Anonymous; as such, I’d offer that Anonymous is nigh indistinguishable from a persistent larp set in a territory that maps almost seamlessly to the world in which it is suspended. There’s only one character you can play, and there’s no GM to tell you how to play it. {…}

But the counterculture has no monopoly on larpish behaviour. I’d also contend that the nigh-viral Six Sigma framework of manufacturing quality assurance took on very larp-like characteristics, especially as it trickled down — poorly understood and richly overhyped — to the very same small businesses that its progenitors were busily eviscerating in the mid- to late-Nineties. Imagine a larp designed to explore perfection and efficiency in the workplace, being played earnestly by a handful of converts among a workforce of disinterested and disenfranchised NPCs who haven’t had so much as a sip of the kool-aid… Well, perhaps I’m being unfair, here, but Six Sigma looked to me like an RPG for middle management long before I knew what Nordic larp even was.

again, hat tip to Technoccult’s The Strange And Exciting World Of Nordic Larping

Categories: Uncategorized

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

courtesy of Technoccult’s post The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders:

Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci on ways that media and law enforcement can reduce the number of copycat killers after a mass shooting:

1. Law enforcement should not release details of the methods and manner of the killings, and those who learn those details should not share them.
2. If and when social media accounts of the killers are located, law enforcement should work with the platforms to immediately pull them.
3. The name of the killer should not be revealed immediately. If possible, law enforcement and media sources should agree to withhold it for weeks.
Similarly, the killer should not be profiled extensively, at least not at first.
4. The intense push to interview survivors and loved ones in their most vulnerable moments should be stopped.

Full Story: The Atlantic: The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders. Here’s How.

These points are not unlike forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz’ principles for not propagating mass murders:

Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.
Don’t have photographs of the killer.
Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.
Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.

Applicability to discussion about how stories replicate from text to actuality should be obvious

Categories: Uncategorized

false consensus and pluralistic ignorance

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

from Everyone agrees with us on climate change—especially when we’re wrong by John Timmer:

The authors of the study have found evidence that two well-known behaviors—the “false consensus” and “pluralistic ignorance”—are helping to shape public opinion in Australia.

False consensus is the tendency of people to think that everyone else shares their opinions. This can arise from the fact that we tend to socialize with people who share our opinions, but the authors note that the effect is even stronger “when we hold opinions or beliefs that are unpopular, unpalatable, or that we are uncertain about.” In other words, our social habits tend to reinforce the belief that we’re part of a majority, and we have a tendency to cling to the sense that we’re not alone in our beliefs.

Pluralistic ignorance is similar, but it’s not focused on our own beliefs. Instead, sometimes the majority of people come to believe that most people think a certain way, even though the majority opinion actually resides elsewhere.

The false consensus effect became obvious when the researchers looked at what these people thought that everyone else believed. Here, the false consensus effect was obvious: every single group believed that their opinion represented the plurality view of the population.

In the end, the false consensus effect is swamped by this pluralistic ignorance. Even though everybody tends to think their own position is the plurality, those who accept climate change is real still underestimate how many people share their views. Meanwhile, everyone overestimates the self-labelled “skeptic” population.

The authors suggest that this could, in part, be a result of the media’s tendency to always offer two opposing opinions, even on issues where one is a fringe belief. They also point out that it would be good to perform a similar study in other nations where the dynamics of public belief are different.

hat tip to Technoccult for this one!

Categories: belief