Mad About The Boy
October 23, 2012 9:42 PM   Subscribe

During the first weekend of October, at a Connecticut campground, a group of women gathered. As part of a pilot program organized by the federal government, these women, self-arranged into groups of three called "triads," were finalists for an experimental parenting program. Two of the triads would be selected for the right to be artificially inseminated, the resulting child to be raised by all three women as equal co-parents. While no one was certain how the experiment might turn out, every one agreed that something had to be tried since all of the men were dead.

Loosely inspired by the comic series Y: The Last Man, the Norwegian Mad About the Boy was the first true Nordic larp to be run in the United States. Organized by author and journalist Lizzie Stark, and run with the help of a number of on-site individuals, including all three of the original Norwegian larpwrights, over 30 female players spent an emotionally intense weekend living as if each of them had seen all the men around them suddenly collapse and die within the span about about 5 minutes.

Nordic larp is well known for the powerful emotional hangover, known as "bleed," that can hit participants who have particularly intense in-character experiences. As players have started to post debriefings, it is becoming apparent just how affecting the game was. American larp culture may be on the verge of growing up.

A very detailed writeup by the player of the only character taken from Y: The Last Man

A writeup by the only male character, The Last Man on Earth

Lizzie Stark's post-game writeup
posted by GameDesignerBen (25 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
I for one welcome our new Nordic Larp Overlords.
posted by klapaucius at 9:48 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, this is fascinating, thanks.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:06 PM on October 23, 2012


I'm fascinated and amazed, but my biggest question is why they call it larp at all. Immersive theatre experiences like this have been around longer than role-playing games have.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:17 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


... somewhat dizzying feeling as I fall down a rabbit hole I never knew existed ...
posted by feckless at 10:18 PM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


This sounds like an interesting game...

my foray into Y:The Last Man was OK but I could never quite get over my disbelief about the gigantic MacGuffin (the virus or whatever which kills all men except one around the world *simultaneously at exactly the same moment*) at the beginning
posted by Bwithh at 10:31 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there's a downside to being the last man on earth. While your chances are really good I'm sure in a fair-minded society you'd still find yourself being turned down. You know, as the last man on earth.

I think that would hurt on a visceral level beyond a normal weekend blow off.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was kind of surprised to open this post and not discover that this was actually about a program to bring back some nearly-extinct species of bird or something.

On the other hand, Y:TLM is a fun read and this is cool so yay.
posted by hattifattener at 11:20 PM on October 23, 2012


I'm fascinated and amazed, but my biggest question is why they call it larp at all. Immersive theatre experiences like this have been around longer than role-playing games have.

It's seeded in a different community; rpg-ers being separate from drama kids.

And philosophically: when people get around a table to play D&D, they're not doing it for an audience aside from one another.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:20 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyone looking for an overview of Nordic Larp and its history should get a copy of the book Nordic Larp, the best book I read in 2011. It's a games-history text presented as a coffee-table book and it will blow your mind.
posted by Hogshead at 3:35 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm fascinated and amazed, but my biggest question is why they call it larp at all. Immersive theatre experiences like this have been around longer than role-playing games have.

If you check the "Nordic larp" link in the main post and go to the 18:00 mark (although Johanna's entire 20 minute talk is a great introduction to Nordic larp in general, and I'd recommend the whole thing), the name question is addressed directly.

It's larp because it was created by larpers who were trying to make cool larps. Why not larp?

Also, it's specifically larp, and not LARP, because these are non-English-using communities, so the word transitioned from an acronym to a regular old word with normal capitalization rules. English is the scholarly language of the Nordic larp scene because it is the most common second language, and documentation is so important. Actual play is performed in whatever the local language is.

Also, Hogshead is correct: the Nordic Larp book will break your brain.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 5:05 AM on October 24, 2012


Umm, aren't most nuclear reactor operators male? How are the ladies coping with the worldwide series of meltdowns...
posted by bert2368 at 5:42 AM on October 24, 2012


My list of Things I Just Don't Get has a new entry.
posted by tommasz at 5:46 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha, this is great. :) Yet another one of my extracurriculars makes it to the Blue.

I was one of the players in this US run (I played one of the Committee members). Regarding theatre vs. larp, I actually do both, and consider them related. Having done improv, larp is very much along the same lines, just with much more character background provided. Nordic/jeepform larp is something I've only recently started dabbling in, and I find it completely fascinating.
posted by LeDiva at 6:09 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is something I knew nothing about, thanks for this post. Fascinating.

YTLM always annoyed me, mostly because the actual situation would not involve Dude on Voyage of Discovery but Dude Locked Up and Forced to Give Sperm Samples for Rest of Life.

As for actual regular intercourse, forget it; his sperm would be too valuable. His only partner would be a collection container.

Whatever country owned him would immediately have great power and be under threat of invasion.

As for nuclear meltdowns, they do let women become engineers you know. Don't know about reactor engineers, but there's no reason to assume there's not at least some women who would know what to do.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The few issues of Y I picked up reminded me of this classic quote from Le Guin:
Method and results much resemble those of a scientist who feeds large doses of a purified and concentrated food additive to mice, in order to predict what may happen to people who eat it in small quantities for a long time. The outcome seems almost inevitably to be cancer.
That said, it's been on my to-read list for the last five years.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:26 AM on October 24, 2012


Wow, this is hardcore. I just spent a long-ass time reading through all of it. I'm very impressed with the nordic style of larping. Certainly different from everyone standing around in black playing at being vampires like we do in America.

emjaybee: you're not the only one who's thought that about the sperm donation in Y.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:45 AM on October 24, 2012


Umm, aren't most nuclear reactor operators male? How are the ladies coping with the worldwide series of meltdowns...
posted by bert2368 at 8:42 AM on October 24 [+] [!]


Y: the Last Man deals with issues like these (talking about commercial airlines, politics, and the military - the strongest military left is in Israel).

McGuffin aside, it's head-and-shoulders above most other "what if there were no men" fiction - one of the best explorations of gender and men & women's relationships that I've ever read.

As for the sperm donation: the world would not survive long with every human being siblings. And Yorick is in hiding/on the run to avoid just that fate.
posted by jb at 10:02 AM on October 24, 2012


As for the sperm donation: the world would not survive long with every human being siblings.

There would definitely be problems for a few generations, but as time went on natural selection and the fact that you have an enormously diverse pool of genes (it's just that you can only put 50% of that pool into any one mix) would dilute out the major issues pretty quickly. Chromosomal crossover would even diversify the Y chromosome pool in a reasonable time.

TLDR: Yeah, there would be some issues, but nothing on the order of half of everyone dying one day.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


My review of every work of fiction ever:

"Doesn't the author understand how unlikely it was that life would have evolved into humans in our universe? Am I really supposed to believe that in the so-called 'what-if?' or 'alternate world' setting posited by the author, humans would really have evolved to be just like, or nearly like, ourselves? The odds of life appearing at all are astronomical! If writers paid any attention to The Way The Universe Really Works, 99.99999% of stories would be set in vast freezing clouds of hydrogen."
posted by GameDesignerBen at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


"If writers paid any attention to The Way The Universe Really Works, 99.99999% of stories would be set in vast freezing clouds of hydrogen."

Welp, I have my NaNoWriMo concept ready to go.
posted by BrashTech at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Umm, aren't most nuclear reactor operators male? How are the ladies coping with the worldwide series of meltdowns...

Y dealt with this at great length. Most nuclear plants could probably be shut down by automatic safeguards and the remaining female employees, resulting in blackouts but not a hundred Fukushimas. The trouble is that there's a big gender disparity in a lot of the professions needed to keep society running. Who's going to feed the millions of women in New York? Fewer than 10% of truckers in the United States are women, and the food distribution network can't be reorganized and restaffed overnight. If that sounds bad, think what would happen in Afghanistan.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:37 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone should read Y - it's really one of the best novels - graphic or otherwise - that I have ever read.
posted by jb at 12:59 PM on October 24, 2012


If that sounds bad, think what would happen in Afghanistan.

With all the soldiers dead, I would think that Afghan women would continue to do all the work (like the women of most developing countries) but not worry so much about getting killed/raped/beaten. They would probably be better off in survival terms than your average western woman.
posted by emjaybee at 1:15 PM on October 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


In the heady days when there was still no such word as LARP, just after we stopped using cornstarch in tissue-paper as spell packets but before everything had been streamlined and systemized and all the fun wrung out of it, we had incredible self-directed, character-driven, emotionally charged games that have stuck with the participants our entire lives. I'm not entirely sure it was a good thing.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:53 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who's going to feed the millions of women in New York? Fewer than 10% of truckers in the United States are women...

Patronizing much?

Oh, fer cryin' out loud. I can drive a truck. I drove a D-10 cat without much explanation except here's how you turn it on/off and those are the gears. Whee! Every single one of my girlfriends knows how to drive standard pickups, and several of them handled a ten geared produce hauler. We can drive forklifts, use pneumatic tools, do plumbing, build houses. I've even rewired lamps (although I hate anything to do with electricity, but I could suck it up, if I had to.)

Zeus forbid we should break a nail!
posted by BlueHorse at 4:33 PM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


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