The fourth part of the Finnish trollpunk street larp series Neonhämärä (Eng. “Neon Twilight”) is set to be played next month. It is a game set in a world much like our own – except that there are trolls. They are a poorly known and understood minority, that is feared and oppressed. (Sort of like the world of the HBO series True Blood with trolls instead of vampires – and more Finnish.)
Finland has a long tradition on street larps. The first cyberpunk-inspired games were staged in early 1990’s, but it wasn’t until Vampire: The Masquerade caught on that the cityscape became a common back drop for games. Nowadays occult and new weird are popular genres. Neonhämärä proudly continues this tradition. However, it is the fictional band Sysikuu that makes the game especially interesting.
Diegetically Sysikuu is a the world’s first troll band. Combining rock and troll etno they are struggling to overcome predjudices and make in the music business. The band was created specifically for the game – and only two of the members were musicians before Sysikuu was founded. After practising for a year the music-newbies have gone from zero to guitar hero: they are now a real band and the next game is set around their concert. The concert is held at a regular venue, advertised as a normal gig concert listings, there is another band as well that has nothing to do with the game, and the event is open to anyone who buys a ticket.
I’m not excited about this just because I’m the band’s diegetic manager. No, I’m thrilled by how easy this kind of blurring of the borders between game and life nowadays is. Sure, setting up the event has required a lot of work, but the literacy is there. The gamemasters know how to communicate about these kinds of events, the players know how to play them, and they all have not just skills to play, but how to negotiate the reality with the unaware participants, the bystanders at the gig.
Literacy really is the key and we are finally getting there.
Sysikuu poster by Pekka Hänninen, photo by Katri Lassila.