fredag 12 augusti 2016

I'm organizing a nordic larp and I can't handle critique.

I can't handle critique when I'm not paid to handle the critique or am in school intent on learning something.

I've helped in organizing Berättelsefrämjandet larps Landsväg in 2014 and Hinterland in 2015. I've volunteered to do character coaching in other games. I organized two small fantasy games in 2005 and 2006. But the fantasy games were made in a tradition and at a time where the main part of the feedback an organizer got was positive and bubbly.
We also did not have social media in the way the we do today, so actually giving the organizer feedback and critique had to be done in an more active and directed way. You knew that if you wrote it, it would be meant for the organizers eyes. With social media you can be talking with your friends about what you were doing this weekend and then Facebook makes it possible for the organizer to stumble over that conversation.

Nordic Larp is a movement that in part moves towards larp as art, and art can be critiqued. And as I said before I can't handle critique. So while I do want to do my larp Witches of Ästad Farm in November I still don't have much of a plan for what I will do with the feedback afterwards.
I'm pretty sure that some will adore the game, while others will be disappointed. And I fear my reaction to that. I don't want to go "I'll never organize again and I hate all larpers". I'm prone to hyperbole when I am upset.

I think the thing is this:

I don't mind critique of my larps being out there. It is very important that other people get to express themselves, and talking about your experiences is part of self expression.

I don't mind others asking respectfully for what they want or need before or during a game. As long as they can divide between need and want and is ok with me saying no to a want and being truthful about not being able to fulfil a need.

What I do mind is that when critique is delivered directly to me I feel like there is a strong demand from me to respond and to respond in a certain way. To fix the perceived problem. And I have trouble with that because I am to damn truthful and I really struggle with that. I need to repeat to myself that it's fine to say.

"I hear what you are saying and recognize this was a problem for you."

Instead I blurt out "I can't really do anything about that, because the game is over." or "It was clearly stated in the list of content for the larp that this could happen, did you not read the content list?"

I'm thinking to myself that there also is a formula most organizers of Nordic larps use in which they say to their participants that they are very open to critique and that participants can contact them at any time. That they can inform the organizing team if there is anything they need to participate in the game. And after games there more often than not are organized feed back forms that they send out and encourage participants to fill in, saying they need the feed back to get better.
But I don't get better when I get a lot of feedback at once or feel critiqued from several people. I respond better to being mentored by people I have developed a personal relationship with and who I trust. I'll write about "Karins octagonal feedback model" some other time.

Final thoughts
I'm thinking that I wouldn't want to impose "The week of stories" as I have understood the concept. I understood it as asking participants to only talk about the good things with the game the week following the game and leave critiques for the time after that week.
I don't think I as an organizer of a larp game can ask of my players to do anything special once they have left the venue. Their social media interaction belongs to them and if they are disappointed in the game they have a right to express that to their friends, which today is often done in social media. It is also in the hearts and minds of the larpers that the game will live on and what they don't talk about or write about they most often do not remember.

So I'll probably get off social media in the weeks (2-3 weeks) following the game. Or at least get off Facebook. Or have a designated hour of day when I log on, check it out and then log off.
I have my co-organizer who can do the administration and moderation on Facebook where such is needed. I'll take care of my needs to withdraw a little when a project is done and I am in an emotionally vulnerable spot.

If we make a feedback form I will be careful with what kind of feedback I'll ask for, and only ask about things I feel I'll know what to do with. And I will probably have my coorganizer go through the answers before I do. And then the same as with social media, I go through them after 2-3 weeks.

I'll give myself some "weeks of no stories" to create a distance between myself and my creation.

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