Ropecon 2019 kicks off a week from now at Messukeskus in Helsinki. There’s a lot of great programming on offer, and if you’re even remotely able to make it, it’s well worth the trip.
However, what with physical distance and the troubles of travel, remotely is indeed the only way a lot of you can enjoy the convention. Since the con’s video team has been working like mad to get the backlog cleared before this year puts another hundred videos in the queue, I thought I’d go through the archive and highlight some of my favourites from over the years. These are English only, but if you do grok Finnish, I also heartily recommend looking up everything by Esa Perkiö.
2012: Peter Adkison – “Gen Con Now and Then”
Guest of Honour Peter Adkison talks about the then-45-year-old Gen Con and its history. Though his first Gen Con wasn’t until 1992, he nowadays owns the damn thing, and is an engaging speaker.
2012: Peter Adkison – “Wizards of the Coast, 1990-2001”
A really engaging speaker. WotC he founded, making him eminently qualified to talk about its first decade until the company was bought by Hasbro. Rounds out the picture provided by Shannon Appelcline’s Designers & Dragons nicely.
2012: Larson Kasper – “Larp as a Tool for Civic Education”
Guest of Honour Larson Kasper (with whom I larped last week) talks about how larp is used in Germany in adult civic education.
2013: Dagmar de Cassan – “History of Modern Board Games”
Board game expert Dagmar de Cassan, who had to bow out of her GoH gig for this year fortunately dropped by back in 2013, and gave us this talk. There’s also an interview from this year on the Ropecon website.
2013: D. Vincent Baker – “How to Design a Role-Playing Game That Doesn’t Suck”
Vincent Baker, the designer of Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World, and a bunch of other games, talks about his design style and philosophy. It is very enlightening, especially to people like me who have trouble wrapping our brains around Apocalypse World.
2014: Jason Soles – “Mythology, Art, and Game Design”
Guest of Honour Jason Soles from Privateer Press discusses what he’s created and how he ended up there.
2014: Massi Hannula – “All the Mistake We’ve Made”
An annual favourite, where Massi gathers a bunch of her friends, everyone talks about how they’ve screwed up in larp organizing, conrunning, gamemastering, or the like. The 2014 edition features Ville-Eemeli Miettinen, Katri Lassila, and Mikko Pervilä. Very funny.
2014: Guy Windsor – “Realities of Steel”
Guy Windsor teaches European swordfighting, and for many, many years he did an annual talk about how things work when you’re wielding actual sharp metal bits instead of a duct-taped pool noodle or a d20.
2015: Niina Niskanen, Michelle Nephew, Jaakko Stenros & Jamie McDonald – “Gender in Games”
The panel discussed gender and LGBT experience and representation in gaming from professional and personal viewpoints. The panel was an important one back then and remains so.
2015: Jason Morningstar – “You Call That a Larp?”
Guest of Honour Jason Morningstar gives an overview of what’s new and cool in American larp. I think this one’s stood the test of time in that though time may have passed by the specifics, America remains weird.
2016: Jukka Särkijärvi – “Game Novels Then and Now”
Yeah, it’s mine. I talk for 90 minutes about role-playing game tie-in novels, with a bit of Warhammer thrown in. I had fun making it, I had fun doing it, and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.
2016: Juhana Pettersson – “Blood, Sex, and Techno Music: The New Vampire Larp”
Juhana Pettersson, one of the designers of End of the Line, White Wolf’s first official larp under Paradox Interactive, discusses the larp’s design and what was planned further down the line. Though not all of those plans ever came to fruition, I feel items like this are an important reminder of what White Wolf was actually doing.
2017: Martin Ericsson – “50 Shades of Darkness”
Martin Ericsson, then the lead storyteller for White Wolf, discusses the different styles of playing Vampire: The Masquerade and the challenges of accommodating the gamut of popular playstyles in the new edition’s design. (He also had some thought on the challenge of redesigning clan symbols so nobody’s tattoo would become obsolete, but I don’t think he covered that here.)
2017: Monica Valentinelli – “How to Create Your Own RPG”
Guest of Honour Monica Valentinelli discusses game design, gives advice, and covers some of the realities of the industry. (Fun fact: the game she mentions in the beginning before actually starting the program item was a showcase game of Hunter: The Vigil that I played in. There was a clash of cultures. We learned a lot.)
2017: Anna Westerling – “Adaptation to Larp”
Guest of Honour Anna Westerling talked about the art of adapting works from other mediums into larp. This seems to be raw stream, so feel free to skip the first ten minutes or so of empty nothing. Her mike has a bit of a reverb at the start but it gets fixed soon.
2018: Alex Roberts – “Un-Designing Star Crossed“
Guest of Honour Alex Roberts discusses game design and the design process of Star Crossed. The game is also up for a Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming this year!
2018: Eevi Korhonen, Alex Roberts, Karoliina Korppoo, Kristel Nyberg & Janina Kahela – “Women in Game Design”
A group of designers from the fields tabletop RPG, video games and larp discuss exactly what it says on the tin, a conversation that, as Eevi points out, is not one we’ve had a lot in Finland (by a quick count, I believe our grand total number of woman tabletop RPG designers stands at three, and I figure we could stand to do better).
2018: John Shockley – “Taking the Leap – International Larping and Why You Should Do It”
John talks about a thing that I do. Some of the material is a bit outdated in that Dziobak Larp Studios no longer exists and College of Wizardry is now run by The Company P, but most of what John covers is still applicable.
2018: Jamie MacDonald, Essi Santala, Joonas Iivonen, Tonja Goldblatt & Vili Nissinen – “Post-mortem: Just a Little Lovin’ 2018“
The organizing team of the 2018 run of the larp Just a Little Lovin’, set in the midst of the AIDS crisis of early 1980s New York, discusses and dissects the production of the larp. I played it, hauled some coffins for it, and was blown away by it.
This is but a smattering of the videos on Ropecon’s channel and not even all of my favourites – for instance, I only listed one iteration of “All the Mistakes We’ve Made”. Neither is it all of the English-language ones. I encourage you to go into the archive, delve deep, post your favourites in the comments!
And see you at Ropecon!