Jiituomas (jiituomas) wrote,

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Book Review: States of Play.

Last on my list of delayed reviews comes the Solmukohta 2012 book (with varying covers), States of Play edited by Juhana Pettersson. After the Danes presented three books last year, a change of style was needed, and Juhana provided just that. The book reads like a cross-over between game documentation and game journalism, in a good sense. The key idea guiding it is the spread of Nordic larp concepts around the world, and the resulting interaction with other larp cultures, which in turn may have a lot to offer of their own. Spanning a hefty 35 essays, it documents old and new Nordic games, grants a look at songs in Russian larps, and on introducing larp to Palestine, and so forth.

Most of the texts are very short, and remain on the level of descriptive anecdotes. They are nevertheless surprisingly good. Those that are not descriptive tend to be opinion pieces. As I am a theorist and a designer, for me the highlight of it all was Michal Mochocki's theory-framed description of Polish historical larps. And on a totally subjective note, I am very happy about having finally written about our intriguing success of a failure, "Valokaari". Most of all, however, I liked the way some games were presented through multiple viewpoints, bringing them a lot more to life than a single essay would have.

All in all, however, the book reads to me more as an advertisement of ideas and larps past rather than a serious new contribution. It manages to create loads of interest in what's in there, and inspires more questions, but does not answer them by itself. I would prefer the texts to be at least double-length each. The upside of this all is of course that it's an easy book to pick up, skim, read here and there, appreciate, and be intrigued by. It may no be as deep as the ones that came before it over the last few years, but as promotion it is excellent. After so many increasingly heavy volumes, perhaps that's exactly what we needed?

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