I was back the Chelmsford Radisson (the hotel where Intercon runs) this weekend for NELCO 2014. It was the third annual New England LARP Conference, this year with one track of panels (expanded to an hour and fifteen minutes each, up from an hour in previous years, and with a fifteen minute break between them. We also had a track of “hands-on” events, and the BYOG (build your own game) program, which successfully pulled off writing a new game in one weekend and running it on Sunday.
Prior to the event, I went shopping with our con chair to pick up some supplies — mostly office supply type items, like giant sticky notes, paper and markers. We also picked up a stamp making kit from Michael’s put together a stamp to make name badges for the convention.
On Friday, I arrived early with our con chair to help set up. I was incredibly tempted to attend “Clearing Your Waitlist: Adding Characters to an Existing Game”, as it sounds like a very practical and valuable topic (especially with Intercon at the size it is and still likely to grow), but I ended up sitting in on the “Latex LARP Weapon Making” workshop in the boardroom, which was so interesting, I ended up slightly late to the “When Boffer and Theater Collide” panel, despite being a panelist.
On Saturday, I again went to learn about making LARP latex weapons before joining the audience on the “Describing Game Mechanics” panel, which served as the base for the focus group that created a system for labeling LARPs according to their mechanics. Then I attended the “Eliminating Downtime” panel, followed by the “Stuffing: Making Sure the Game You Wrote is the Game They Get” presentation.
After that, I offered a few suggestions at “GM Services“, a brainstorming session for coming up with potential new projects for NEIL (New England Interactive Literature, whose goal is to “encourage LARP throughout New England and beyond”), or “horizontal services” that could be provided to all LARPs who could benefit from them.
After dinner, I joined the deconstruction of Betrothals and Betrayals, (someone else had graciously stepped up to GM so that I could attend other panels while it was running), before sitting in on the “Introduction to Foreign LARP” presentation, which focused primarily on boffer LARP in Europe.
After that last presentation, I spend most of the evening at the NELCO party, listening to karaoke and dancing out all my energy until way too late.
On Sunday, a number of NELCO attendees went for brunch at the lovely Moonstones restaurant (with it’s rather remarkable Bloody Mary bar). The schedule for Sunday got reconfigured a bit, so I was able to attend the “Describing Game Mechanics” and “Horizontal Services in LARP” presentations, which shared the practical results of both focus groups, attend the “What Will LARP Look Like in 15 Years?” panel, and join the panel for the “5 Plots Every Game Should Have,” which was actually run as a group discussion.
It was an incredible weekend. Getting together with so many enthusiastic LARPers to discuss our hobby is at once reassuring and inspiring. The numbers came to about the same as last year, maybe a bit higher (somewhere between 45 and 50), with a number of new faces in the crowd. We also had more representation from the boffer community, which I think is incredible and a really good sign.
I’ll admit there was still some amount of division in evidence (such as theater LARPers implying boffer LARPers are mostly stick jocks, and latex weapon fans disdaining boffer weapons), but it was entirely overshadowed by friendly interest in learning about one another’s LARPing choices and experiences. I suspect we’ll see some of these faces again at the next Intercon.
I’ll be sharing more detailed descriptions of the various events I attended in posts here over the next week or so. The great news is that a number of these panels had hand outs or power points associated with them, so people interested will be able to read about the topics from the sources. Even better, a number were filmed, and if the quality of the films are good enough, they’ll be available online to watch. I’ll have links here as soon as possible.