Had a great New Years party chat with my friend Aaron Vanek (Editor of the Wyrd Con 2013 Companion Book just out *now*) about LARPs, gamification, Kickstarter fulfillment, transmedia storytelling, intellectual property and a bunch of other subjects, all in 2 hours.
It was a fast 2, and I could have done 10 more easily.
We go back nearly 25 years in LARPing at Enigma, UCLA’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Club, and he’s “gone pro,” running Seekers Unlimited a non-profit organization for Educational and Training LARPs. He’s turned his vast experience in game design to improving teaching. In Enigma’s time gaming, we’ve amassed quite a trove of knowledge of (and a bigger one of opinion about) what works in LARPing, and he’s working really hard to apply those lessons to schools. LARPs in training and education are really just another form of gamification, and since gamification is big, interest in LARPs is on the upswing. While some people and places are learning the basics, Aaron and Seekers Unlimited bring tons of experience to the table.
In the case of educational LARPs you take the general goal of making the LARP fun, and add a foundation underneath that it has to be educational. It’s a whole other world of complexity to the experience, and balancing both is quite tricky. I thought it was neat when he talked to me about analyzing a Nursing program’s Nurse/Patient simulation exercise and identifying ways the game “breaks” leading to a sub-par learning experience. Broken games are not fun.
If you are planning some interactive business training, looking for new ways to get your class excited about learning, or looking to the future of what role-playing can offer, you should talk to him.