Android Beginnings is a larp within the Nordic Larp tradition. It is played with a focus on the many small individual choices that contribute to terrible consequences, somewhere down the line. We play collaboratively to weave a story together, knowing where it will end but not how we get there.
What kind of atmosphere is present in Android Beginnings?
This section will both explain things in terms of how it contrasts with previous Android larps, but knowing these is not in any way required in order to appreciate the experience. We just want to have a clear distiction between this and what comes after.
Android Beginnings is meant to be set quite a few years before Do Androids Dream, in a world that has yet taken the step into the Future Noir of the 80s, and is still in a rusty, industrial world that has just begun to take great steps, even leaps, towards the future.
The atmosphere is gritty but also filled with native enthusiasm, innovation and ruthless strategies to be the first people to exploit all the new possibilities that the Androids have opened up.
For those who did play any of the Android Trilogy larps, we want this larp to carry a heavy weight of foresight – knowing what comes after, and in what light you are acting in Android Beginnings.
The following themes are central to the story:
- Greed and exploitation. How can we get more money and more market value out of the Androids? What more can they be used for? How do we make them do more and more? Laws and rules are standing in the way for half of them, but who cares? It’s a brave new world.
- Visions and hope. How beautiful is not the thought of a world without hard labor, without poverty and suffering? Androids can be the saviours of humanity, but how do we get past all the legal and ethical hurdles in order to get the future we all hope for?
- Ethics and humanity. What distinguishes an Android from a human? Will Androids make us happier, or just more aware of our own limitations?
The larp is played in something called 270 degrees black-box, as a mid-point between 360 (Everything is what you see) and the abstract black box where there is no ”What you see is what you get.”
In a large industrial hall, we will create multiple locations that represent different parts of the city where we play. There, the locations and items are real, but often walled in by empty air, like the scenography in the movie Dogville.
Travel through the city will be done by waiting at a buss stop or tram stop, where different rules apply for interactions. The same goes for other aspects of the larp, where the real meets the abstract in order to tell a story about a large city, all contained within a single room.
We will use very simple rules for calibration during the larp. These will be explained in the workshops, but consists of Tap Out (to de-escalate or stop the direction of a scene) and Off-Game (to give instructions or to break a scene) primarily.
We will use realistic theatre interactions for intimate encounters, while we have a technique for violence that will be demonstrated in the workshops.
The larp is played in three acts, and they have different stories to tell. We are using a fluid timeline system where the story isn’t necessarily taking place in a single day, but where the time of day signifies a change in mood and atmosphere in the set.
Act 1 – Daytime
In Act 1, the larp is about hope, ambition and the personal impacts of Androids on the lives of the characters. It is about making big plans for the future. Testing of Androids and their new capacities, cooperating on political initiatives, dreaming big, finding love, trying to cure your loneliness. It is not necessarily a positive atmosphere, but it is a forward-thinking one. It is about seeing the possibilities and not the dangers or threats of the new world. Throw caution to the wind and commit!
Act 2 – Evening
In Act 2, the cost of ambition will become apparent. Deals have to be made, morals set aside, friendships sacrificed and ethical reviews ignored in order to get what you all want. We cannot make an omelet without cracking eggs, and we cannot get our bright new future without ignoring some of the outdates rules of the past. Criminals bribe politicians, Androids are pushed beyond their capacity and visionaries choose to push ahead with things they shouldn’t. Arguments, betrayals and loneliness exists just beneath the surface, but people are still repeating the mantra It will all be worth it in the end.
Act 3 – Night
Once the night falls and the cloud gathers, the first consequences and the first signs of things gone wrong will become apparent – maybe not to the characters themselves, but definitely to us as participants. Some will be jubilant in having achieved their goals, only to realize what those goals really meant. Others will break the hearts of those who were closest to them just to finish what they started, and yet some will break down and abandon everything they believed in. The pressure will become too much, and the power of those who seek to exploit Androids will win over those who seek to take things slow, those who try to preserve their morals and some kind of ethical perspective.
At the end of Act 3, decisions will be made across multiple groups that the old restrictions are no longer relevant, because the Future Is Here. The rules of government and law will be set aside for commercial growth, those who sought to use Androids for trafficking and sexual exploitation will get what they want.
But, not everything is bleak. The newly formed company that produce the Androids will guarantee a safer, better future for everyone. Social security, food on the table – everything will be better, as long as Androids can be produced and sold freely.
Truly, the future will be a better place for everyone.
Everyone, except the Androids.