Om lek i P1 Filosofiska rummet

Idag sändes Filosofiska rummet där jag satt i panelen tillsammans med Nicolina Ställborn, installationskonstnär och Jonna Bornemark, filosof från Södertörns högskola. Det var ett bra samtal som kretsade kring lek och kreativitet i tanke och handling. Själv tycker jag att det är lite läskigt att höra min egen röst men stämningen i studion var fin och välkomnande. Jag försökte prata lite om sociala överenskommelser, improvisation och bejakande. Jag cirklar även kring skillnader mellan lek och spel.

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“Enjoy it while it lasts”

All three books for the nordic live action role-playing (larp) conference Knudepunkt i now online as PDF. Each book has different approach, one of them being academic, another one documentary and a third one with more of a conversational style. I’ve contributed to the latter of them, with a short essay trying to read post-apocalyptic role-playing through the glasses one gets from peak oil studies. Since the editor cut out the references I might as well add them here.

Image from U.S. Coast Guard

Enjoy it while it lasts

«In all our projections, future oil production by 2030 will have decreased from present levels. The world appears most likely to have passed the peak of global oil production and to have entered the descent phase.»
(Aleklett, et al. 2009)

In 2007 food prices doubled in many parts of the world. In 2008 a financial crisis hit the western economies. At that time the price of a barrel of oil had raised to a price of 147$, six times more than what was predicted by the international energy organs a few years earlier. The American industry and economy could not handle such high energy prices and we went into recession, which is still going. United States is completely dependent on cheap oil due to their way of life in suburbia and the extensive interstate highway system. Europe is not as bad off, we can tap the veins of mother Russia’s «natural» gas for some time – but still, oil is absolutely necessary to our transportation, industrial production and food system.

According to recent research from Uppsala University’s Global Energy Systems it is quite probable that those days in the summer of 2008 was historical. We reached peak oil, which means that more or less half of the world’s oil supplies has been depleted. The heydays of cheap, easily accessible energy are over. During 150 years of oil usage we have multiplied the world population by six, using energy condensed from thousands of years of sun energy input.

Oil is the blood of the modern society, it made globalisation and everything else we take for granted possible. In live role-playing there is a tradition of dismissing modernity. I have written extensively on this in «We Lost Our World», trying to outline the anti-modern aesthetics of (pre-modern) fantasy and (post-modern) sci-fi scenarios. Fantasy larps effectively makes us go back to basics, putting handcraft, shelters and making food centre stage. Post-apocalypse is of course just another take on how to escape the dull and repressive features of our modern societies. Post-apocalypse means post-modernity, post a collapse of our petroleum based industry, transportation system, agriculture and housing. It resembles a fear for a situation where we can no longer sustain our present living conditions. That kind of fear is not unmotivated.

Peak oil does not necessarily mean Apocalypse. There is plenty of more to burn off and although disastrous global warming is at the threshold chances are good that we burn all accessible fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) before we stop. It just has to be done (in the name or profit). But the question is for how long it’s profitable to extract it. Peak oil means that we have reached a point where growth is not ensured the way it has been since mid-19th century. It’s sad when you think about the 20th century from that point of view. Humanity had access to almost free energy, that enabled almost any fantasy to come true, but still spoiled the situation in every possible way.

So I’m not saying that Apocalypse is coming, but everything will turn more expensive, all travels will be harder, social stability (whatever we had) is over. So if we had trouble to create a nice community pre-9/11 it will be a lot harder from this point. Some practise could do.

People are very unprepared for this gradual decline of the material conditions for life. Our christian culture has two modes of thinking: progress or apocalypse. Slow but certain destabilisation and decay for the rest of our lives does not seem probable at all to us. (see Kunstler, 2005) But the long term consequences of peak oil might not turn out very different from the results of space invaders, meteor impacts, nuclear war, zombie famines or what have you roaming around in the cultural production.

Thinking and practicing a post-industrial, post-sustainable life in the safe and playful context of live role-playing might give us an idea of how social life can evolve without the welfare state and the consumerist bonanza of global capitalism. The ship is losing altitude; let’s take it down in a smooth way.


Aleklett, Kjell et al. (2009): «The Peak of the Oil Age  – analyzing the world oil production Reference Scenario in World Energy Outlook 2008» in Energy Policy, 2009-11-09

James Howard Kunstler: The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century (Grove/Atlantic, 2005)

Widing, Gabriel: «We Lost Our World and Made New Ones: Live Role-Playing in Modern Times» in Playground Worlds

Published in Talk Larp – Provocative Writings from KP2011. Claus Raasted (ed.), Rollespilsakademiet, Copenhagen, Denmark

Intervjuad i Märklighetstroget

Lyssna gärna på rollspelspodcasten Märklighetstroget! Den drivs av Thom Kiraly som varit inblandade i diverse märkliga projekt. I dagens avsnitt så pratar jag och Thom om Deltagarkultur, så det kanske inte är så mycket nytt för er som läst boken. Om två veckor kommer ett nytt avsnitt med lite mer lösa tankar, kanske mest om verklighetsspel.

Bland de tidigare avsnitten av casten kan jag rekommendera intervjun med Mikael Vesavuori om critical games.

Själv har jag inte förlikat mig med min egen röst, men det är väll bara till att vänja sig.

Documentation of Baader Meinhof eXperiment – black box edition

The norwegian scenario BMX was written to use the oppurtunity of two appartments in the same block inhabitet by prominent larp writers and organizers;  on one hand Eirik Fatland & Li Xin and on the other hand Erlend Eidsem Hansen. This was the setup:

Two rooms, next door : the security police and activists.

One wall divides them – One focus tears them apart, ideology
One group of participants plays the police, the surveillance department and the paramilitary
the other group plays activists, communists and anarchists

The game was well documented by Li Xin and Håken Lid.

When me and Ebba Petrén brought it to Stockholm last spring we decided to put it in an abstract black-box environment instead of a realistic setting. The idea was to make the presence of each sides obvious to the players of the game allthough their characters were yet to find out.

A room with black walls, neutral floor and dynamic light put people and bodies in focus. One can be tempted to think of the black box as a neutral ground where “pure” role-playing can happen, with no surrounding distractions. Allthough black, square and clean the box is far from unbiased, it severely affect how we think and do live role-playing.

The stage is transparent. Everything can be seen, but not necessarily heard, by everyone. The participants move through a void, but proximity becomes a distinct tool.

Here are some images from the enactment in Stockholm, where I had the oppurtunity to hide in the shadows, manipulating the lights and taking pictures.