Bleed in LARP

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
#31
If it's advertised as a hardcore horror larp, and everyone knows that signing up, then there's more leeway for the runners to introduce the kind of material you mention. It's the kind of material you might find in some horror movies (or dodgy anime). But I think they should also include specific trigger warnings for that kind of material. Personally, I probably wouldn't play in such a game.

In terms of your character experiencing different feelings and motivations than you, I think that's a question of whether you're taking an approach of "portraying" your character or being "immersed" in their feelings like method acting. It's probably related to bleed, but I don't think it's identical. Bleed is how you leave the game changed, or how your character is changed by what you bring into the game. So your enjoyment of failure, if you take it away from the game, is a kind of bleed. Doesn't matter that it's not what your character would have felt.

Now I'm starting to sound like I'm contradicting myself, because I compared bleed to method acting earlier. It's a somewhat fiddly difference perhaps, but I think they're separate in the way I just outlined, if you use the definition of bleed as not being what you experience during a game, but what you bring into the game ("bleed-in", how your mental state effects your character portrayal) or take out of it ("bleed-out", how your play experience affects you as a player after the game). Having said that, I suspect the strongest forms of bleed come from aligning your mental state with your character's, like you say.
 
#32
I wouldn't call enjoyment of failure (not in this case, anyway) bleed. It's unclear- it's not like there's an official lexicon of LARPing terminology to tell us for sure what the definition of "bleed" is, but I think in this case, if it were to include his enjoyment of failure, its meaning would be too broad to be very useful.
 

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
#33
Why, specifically? The definition of bleed I'm going with includes "how the game changes you." If you don't think enjoyment taken away from a game changes you so it's not bleed, then yeah you might have a point - it's arguable. But if you disagree it's bleed because the player feels differently than the character, then I disagree.

For example, you could play a really nasty character, but come away with increased sympathy for others as a result (because you saw the IC results of your characters nasty actions), and I would call that bleed with no doubt whatsoever.

I think "how the game changes you" is a useful definition of bleed if you're interested in larp as a vector for change in people. Especially people learning something or increasing their awareness of something (whether for artistic, educational, political, or other purposes). It's also useful if you want to avoid negative changes in people as the result of a game, especially trauma.
 
#34
My instinct is saying that the word bleed doesn't fit that definition. I think of LARP bleed as coming from the defition that means to run, blend together, or become diffuse." I would only consider something bleed if there's overlap between the player's and the character's emotions, or no clear defined border between the player's and character's emotions. I think that concept deserves its own category, and it's how I've seen the term "bleed" used most often in LARP discussion. I would only call your example bleed if the character learned sympathy as well. I don't think "how the game changes you" requires its own terminology- whereas the overlap of character and player emotion is fairly unique to LARPing, and is produced by the overlap of player and character behavior that is unique to LARP.
 

BrianDR

Registered User
Validated User
#35
My instinct is saying that the word bleed doesn't fit that definition. I think of LARP bleed as coming from the defition that means to run, blend together, or become diffuse." I would only consider something bleed if there's overlap between the player's and the character's emotions, or no clear defined border between the player's and character's emotions. I think that concept deserves its own category, and it's how I've seen the term "bleed" used most often in LARP discussion. I would only call your example bleed if the character learned sympathy as well. I don't think "how the game changes you" requires its own terminology- whereas the overlap of character and player emotion is fairly unique to LARPing, and is produced by the overlap of player and character behavior that is unique to LARP.
I agree, that's how I've always seen the word bleed used in publication and conversation: that it's specifically a carry-over of player emotions/feelings/thoughts into a characters emotion/feeling/thoughts ("bleed in") or vice-versa ("bleed out"). It's specifically the "bleeding over" of emotions/feelings/etc. over the player-character barrier, not just any change produced.
 

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
#36
I agree that the definition you're using is implied by the meaning of the word "bleed".

However, I think the term "bleed" was originally intended with the definition I'm using, and is often used that way by Nordic larpers in regard to nordic larp. Take this definition from the Jeepform dictionary for example:

http://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Bleed

At first glance it appears to agree with how you're using it. But consider the example given of the game Fat Man Down. In that game, one player is the "fat man" and the rest of them abuse the "fat man" for being fat. Something like that, anyhow. But they're saying that this experience is intended to "encourage the players to reflect over society's treatment of fat people". Abusing someone in a fictional way teaches players the dangers of verbal abuse, bullying, group-think, etc. Having said that, I think you all take turns being the fat man, so perhaps it's intended that only receiving the abuse would lead to empathetic "bleed"... I don't think so though.

I think it's important to keep in mind that this term comes from a culture (the nordic larp culture) that is all about running larps intended to change the players, and to change society. So it's natural that one of their key terms is about that, even if the exact implications of that term isn't always a perfect fit for the purpose they've used it for. "Bleed" isn't even the poorest term they've adopted for a concept, in my opinion. Sometimes they take technical terms and give them new technical meanings in relation to larp, that aren't necessarily as useful as the original term from some other medium.

See also Montola (2010), which defines a type of bleed called "direct bleed" which is what you're referring to: character emotions being felt by the player, and how that affects the player after the game. But there is also indirect bleed, which that author uses to describe "strong feelings that do not correspond to characters’ diegetic feelings: e.g. when a player feels guilt over the actions of a remorseless character". I can't remember now whether I've read this paper before and it informed the definition I'm using, or we've both been informed by some prior definition. But I agree with Montola's definitions, I think they're both the original intent and the most useful definition for what Nordic larp is often about - affecting players, and the various ways that can be achieved. Also (for bleed-in) it's about self-recognition of what you are bringing to your character from your own life and personality, and how to harness it.

I can also see the narrower definition you folks are using being used in some articles by US authors like Sarah Bowman and Lizzie Stark, so I see where you're getting that usage. But I think something has been lost in translation - something important about the most common purpose of nordic larps.
 
#37
From what I understand, Fat Man Down is more like the Milgrim experiment. The most overweight person is the Fat Man, and is subject to criticism from everyone else. I don't think there are any turns taken- there are instructions for the safe words that don't work with the same group more than once. I think that there would be bleed-in and bleed-out on both parts. The Fat Man brings in his feelings about his own weight, and leaves with feelings that others actually do judge him for his weight more than he realized. The others might be bringing in sub-conscious judgement against the obese they didn't realize they had, and bleed out guilt over how they treated the Fat Man.

Glancing over the Montola article you linked, he doesn't actually back up the terms "direct bleed" and "indirect bleed." Indirect bleed has no source, the information direct bleed is cited from a work that doesn't contain the term. In which case, maybe he's proposing the terms. And actually, I'm not entirely against them, though they seem to contradict the definition of bleed that I'm familiar with. I guess indirect bleed still involves some blurring of the line between the identity of the character and the identity of the player.

For example, let's say I'm playing an evil warlock who summons a demon, and the demon battles the other players and does bad things to them. If I, as a the player, feel guilty about it after the LARP, even though the character, who is thoroughly evil, felt no guilt, that's similar to bleed. Really, if the other players found the demon plot exciting and were happy to have something to fight against (otherwise the LARP would have been that much duller) then as the player, I have nothing at all to feel guilty about.

It's possible something is being changed in translation, though people seem to be pretty aware of Nordic LARP and its purposes when it crops up in discussion over here.

What other terms have they adopted for the concept?
 

Ameline

Retired User
#38
I find this thread very interesting. I'm not sure I'm on the same page, though. I always sort of assumed LARP to be a great tool for self-exploration and growth, trying new things in a safe environment and so on. A sort of self-medicated therapy even. If I were to list things I have learned in-game thanks to the characters I play... Talking to strangers, standing up for myself and for what I think is right, feeling and expressing emotions (still serious problems there), settling some issues around male attention (desire vs. fear), trusting myself (a little more), knowing how I react under pressure and improving that, piece by piece working with my past trauma and dissociative coping techniques... a long way to go, but larping gives me more than any therapist possibly could. I often plan my characters around an issue I want to explore. I often fail in what I choose to portray though, means the problem is too huge to work with at once or I selected the wrong approach. But in my opinion the type of game I choose as a base for this is not very important. I choose and build my experience, the game is only a medium, although games that restrict this experience are not my first choice.

On the other hand I know many people who seek in game what they percieve as missing from their real life - social power, sense of belonging, respect and so on, often without them realizing.

Am I talking about "bleed" in this post, or is it something different? I would like to improve on my personal experience and doing what I do more effectively :)
 

Nath

Registered User
Validated User
#39
Shot answer, Yes.

Longer answer : Bleed is when elements from the everyday world pass into play (Bleed-in) or from play into everyday life (Bleed-Out). Formally it refers to emotional states, with relating things like interpersonal relationships being a borderline case. Informally it get used to refer to everything that passes in and out (e.g. making cakes and selling them for IC money is a bleed-in wealth effect).

The point is that some games are designed to create strong bleed, or certain kinds of bleed. It's possible to build games to do this, and/or to consciously play in a way to encourage bleed.
 

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
#40
The point is that some games are designed to create strong bleed, or certain kinds of bleed. It's possible to build games to do this, and/or to consciously play in a way to encourage bleed.
My sense is that Ameline is planning a certain kind of self-instructive bleed into her approach to larp, even if the games aren't intended for it. So it's designed bottom-up bleed rather than top-down. It's an interesting angle to discuss bleed from.
 
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