Archive for February 28th, 2018

Unpacking Disablism in UK LARP Design

I wanted to write a bit about disablism in the UK LARP scene. Something that might not interest some of you, but interests me.

A quick bit of context for those larpers that don’t know me: I’m a disabled LARPer; I use a wheelchair because of an enduring set of impairments, I have enduring mental health issues and I like to attend collaborative storytelling events. I like to think of myself as progressive and part of the UK (not US) disabled people’s movement, so I use the language we use to describe myself and other disabled people (should you be wondering about the choice of, for example, disablism rather than American terms like ableism).

empire 2, 2017 - beth dooner

Photograph of three larpers, including myself using a wheelchair and another using a stick for support (and looking awesome). Photograph taken by Beth Dooner, Empire LRP, June 2017.

Disability is, at it’s root, a function of an inaccessible world. It’s people with impairments (such as medical conditions, or differences in functioning to whatever society is calling “normal” this year) being stopped from accessing all the things non-disabled people can. This isn’t about getting rid of disabled people’s impairments, it’s about ensuring that with those impairments they can still get the same out of an experience. In traditional LARPs that is something we fail at spectacularly. There is a lot I could talk about when it comes to disablism and LARP; player/crew/monster preconceptions, venues (access vs aesthetics), tactics for disabled players and so on. However, today I’ve picked LARP design. Partly because I just designed and ran one with a couple of excellent people with access at it’s core, and because I have had a number of conversations about it since then.

Unpacking Common Barriers to Access

There are some really common themes in LARP design that are both super popular with non-disabled players yet often profoundly inaccessible at their core. Because I’ve been taking about it today I’m going to use the LARP shibboleth, “the Linear” as an example. Continue reading

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