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living games conference | Neurodiversity and Larp Roundtable

Roundtable on Neurodiversity and Larp at the Living Games Conference at the Holiday Inn Midtown in Austin, Texas. Living Games took place between May 19-22, 2016. Sadie Hawkins (moderator) J Li Terra Chirieleison Jamie Wilkinson See the following link for the full conference schedule: More information at: Video documentation team: Sarah Lynne Bowman Keira Marti Steve Metze Peyton Morris Photo documentation: Heather Halstead



Sadie Hawkins 0:10

The moderator for this panel, so it's mostly going to be these lovely people here talking, when everyone left to introduce themselves. I'm Jamie Wilkinson. Tara curial is great. And like I said, I'm saving. So we want to start off with just a definition of terms so that everybody's kind of on the same page. And so let's let's start with what does neuro diversity mean to each of you?

Terra Chirleleison 0:46

Okay, um, so I am, I consider myself neuro diverse in three ways. One is that I am autistic. Another is that I have a head injury that affects my ability to remember things. So actually, I've forgotten the third way. For the record, if this weekend, I call you by the wrong name or your name, like, I forget your name, like I yeah, so I have a lot of memory processing issues. And the third one is that I consider myself a survivor. And I'm a little bit of PTSD. So for me, I think neuro diversity is anybody who processes the world, in who takes the same inputs, or takes different inputs, and processes the world in a different way, on a cognitive level, cognitive or emotional. Which is

yes, as far as I've been processing part of it, I am bipolar two, and a borderline personality. So I don't process the world consistently in any way, shape, or form. So for me near diversity means acceptance of those traits, and not only in myself, but other people that I meet, and accepting that everyone I meet is going to have their own view of the world, even those who are neurotypical. But I do think that it stands to say that people should pay a little more attention, when you're working with neuro diverse folks to know that we don't ask you to understand just to accept that this is how we're going to see things and maybe react in ways that you're not going to expect.

Jamie Wilkinson 2:30

I think, for me, I actually have a working definition. Because I'm looking at this as a psychologist, and also as an individual that has ADHD. You know, I'm sure, if you knew me long enough, you could probably make a case for me being somewhere on the spectrum, but nothing, nothing official. But the big ones the ADHD. So with this, the way I view neuro diversity is not so much in the way that the like the mechanical processes behind cognition, but the way in which individual psychopathology actually influences those neurological processes. So in a sense, the the perceptions that we have, like the stimuli that we are observing, the way that we interpret that is shaped by not only by the the baseline cognitive processes that form the foundation of thought, but also through the filter of our own pathology.

Unknown Speaker 3:41

And so, when we talk about nerve diversity, it seems like it's including a wide variety of, of people and a wide variety of different definitions. And we're, of course, talking specifically about Lark, this is a large conference. So when you think about more diverse populations, as opposed to neurotypical people, how, what what challenges to those people face as opposed to your, I'll say, average larper

Unknown Speaker 4:18

I mean, I'll start with that because I gotta just totally pop that popped in my head. So I think the the biggest challenge is actually in that concept of being neurotypical. Just because an individual doesn't have a diagnosed any sort of diagnosed psychopathology doesn't mean that doesn't exist. To live life is to rapidly develop like we all have our own note little traumas that we go through that we've gone through our situations. While they are they the the details may vary. The impact that it has on how we view the world is still present. So that's the consistent part. So I think, just, if you're looking if this whole notion of neurotypical neurodiverse, is, least from my perspective, fairly interesting, because it's creating a segregation, where a segregation is really not necessary, if we just acknowledge the fact that the basic fact that we, that, while the biological processes are the same, the, the the outcomes can be different based on highly individualized factors, then it removes that barrier, I guess, is kind of one bonus. I don't know if I'm allowed to

Audience Member 5:49

interrupt, and I don't mean to interrupt the panel, I have a child who has access to. And one of the things that are very, and I'm sure that you understand as well, is very well spreads in the artistic community, your diversity is a spectrum and that there is no new normal. And that to say to somebody to say that someone who's neurotypical is always incorrect, so that you just have to treat everybody as, as if they're on the spectrum of, of cognition and being able to process things and be able to take things in and to never assume that someone else in the process of your family would just like you would expect someone to meet on the street to react the same way that you would in a given situation. Right. Sorry, I just wanted to point that out to you, we're making the point that it is a spectrum, it's always a

Unknown Speaker 6:40

spectrum. Yeah. And it seems like we're kind of talking about the same thing. But the other thing that's fairly interesting is as a as a culture, as a society, we like our labels, we like to compartmentalize things, because in rapid into these nice, neat little packages, and realities, it's not it's nothing that simple. You know, the processes, again, the the biological processes of like, you know, certain levels of neurotransmitters, neurons lighting up at certain intervals, creating, you know, neural pathways. That's the that stuff that's not going to change, regardless of how, you know, regardless of what the output is, that's still a fundamental biological process.

Unknown Speaker 7:29

So I kind of agree and kind of disagree with that framework. Like, I think that on one hand, there's like, there's the social justice question. And then there's the How do you practically get things done question? And there's kind of also the scientific question. And my response to the scientific question is honestly, like, I don't care, because that's very divorced from my everyday experience, right? Like, I'm not interested in your neurotransmitters, I'm interested in our interaction. And then on the one to one, like on the everyday social interaction aspect, if I'm going to meet someone, I'm not going to be like, Oh, what is the label I have for this person? Like, I'm going to be like, how do we figure out exactly the custom way we need to interact with each other. And I think that one big advantage that being disabled brings is that it raises your awareness and dexterity around these custom handshake interactions. And as a, as a management consultant actually like this, how I use this all the time, right, and this is a skill that I think everyone could use to bring. But at the same time, I also think, I think that from a social justice perspective, it's important like to get at the question of why is neuro diversity, diversity, right, like, and I think that there's this dangerous oversimplification, if you oversimplify to, well, let's all just love and respect each other. Because then you don't acknowledge the fact that the people who really are different in different in different ways each has a very, very unique experience. Right? Like, I certainly don't want to speak for you. But like, for example, if you say like your border, right, like, they're horrible labels around the border,

Unknown Speaker 9:05

it's like, rather than things that are, I mean, nobody wants to be labeled borderline.

Unknown Speaker 9:12

You know, and a lot of people will actually be misdiagnosed as bipolar because they are often cormode comorbid. And it's easy to play easier. Just I wanted to add, though, I realized that there is no real neurotypical but we need a baseline and there are people in this world who would say no, I am neurotypical, you know, there are people that exist that way. And there's nothing wrong with that. So I don't know that I think sometimes we just need a baseline label to determine well, where does the diversity

Unknown Speaker 9:41

in neurotypical because there is no tech privilege, right, there was a pass. There's also ability to process the world around you because language is actually created to describe the experiences that you internally have, that texts are written to explain things in a way that makes sense to you that rooms are built in a way so that you can physically walk through them. Right like that happens.

Unknown Speaker 10:05

So in regards to learn, so we walk into, you know, a group of people that if they are building their world in a way that is neurotypical is going to have challenges for us that they won't even be aware of, and why why would it be something that they would have to actively

Unknown Speaker 10:20

learn. But the this kind of throws in an interesting dynamic into the whole world going in large communities as a whole, because individuals get, there's a couple of compounds that this can this can go, you get those individuals who consider the the multitude of variations when it comes to cognitive processing, and the resulting output that can that can be there, as far as you know, we may be looking at the same thing, but he's two entirely different things. And they may go and consider that. And they may change their change or environment to or the message like if the storyteller wanted to, to, to adjust a podcast or an event to be able to engage individuals by playing into their the perceptions that they have, then

Unknown Speaker 11:19

you've got that that possible result that can come occur, but then you've also got the result of

Unknown Speaker 11:28


Unknown Speaker 11:33

not to oversimplify, but basically going, Yeah, well, we all see shit differently. So if not acknowledging the difference in and of itself, right there means that it just increases your awareness, that something that there is that difference. And so when you recognize it, you're not caught off guard by it, you're not surprised by it. You know, you're you're building an RD incorporating and respecting that difference. So it's,

Unknown Speaker 12:08

I don't know, because like, surely LC should definitely, but that does that same does not capture the order of magnitude of difference that exists.

Unknown Speaker 12:15

I would agree with that. Because, you know, yes, we're all going to perceive things differently. But some of us are going to be profoundly different in ways that may affect us. In game, especially in, you know, unexpected ways.

Unknown Speaker 12:29

Like in Eric's talk yesterday, he was talking about how there's this debate in the scientific community about whether thoughts exist independent of language, right. And I like laughed at that, because I can express maybe 15% of my internal experience and thoughts in language, right, like most people, I think, can experience Express probably 80 to 90%. Did he seriously say that out loud? Well, yeah, well, he said, there is debate and it is not conclusive.

Unknown Speaker 12:55

Or it's not and it's something that because when you're looking at the the processes, and I think where he's where he's coming from with that is because different structures in the brain are being used. And that comes to that. So as he's probably looking at a foundational discussion being in the well having to go back to buy my neuro psych you're looking at what's essentially the hind brain, the more animalistic parts, the the older parts of the brain as far evolutionary speak, evolutionarily speaking, where some of the processes may start, but as the neurons that fire in that cascading order, and it goes out through the different parts of the brain, the message doesn't change, but more detail is added. So like, in the, in the hind part of the brain, maybe a thought may start out as let's just say, comer, alright, so the thought is because again, it's it's instinctual, the animal is hungry, well, it may start out hungry. And then is it starting to guide the, the behavior and as it's going through and going through different parts, it takes different forms as far as like strategy and stuff. So and a human, by the time they get to verbalize, I am hungry. Or I'm hungry, I want a cheeseburger. They're the it's the as far as like the map of the mind goes, the neurons that are firing in US particular order that align with that, that particular thought adds in different details based on what parts of the brain that it's actually going through. And so when you're going through the the the part of the brain that processes language, well, then you're going to have language detail added to that thought. So I think that's I think that might be Kind of where he was going as far as like the basis for that question. I don't mean to interrupt, but this is kind of sidetracking from

Unknown Speaker 15:06

Yeah, I do want to turn it a little bit back towards LARP. And ask them, if any of y'all might have perhaps some concrete examples of what these nebulous challenges, you know, that, that we're talking about. Like, if you don't mind, I can I can give an example. I do have generalized anxiety disorder, and coming into LARP. That can be very difficult to approach a room full of people who I don't know who we're all having these very intense stories. And, for me, the first time I tried to large, large that was incredibly overwhelming, and paralyzing, completely paralyzing, not just oh, I feel awkward. Or I'm not really sure what to do, but just utterly paralyzing. And I'm wondering if any of you also have examples? I do. I've got examples as well, I think I'll probably be talking less.

Unknown Speaker 16:09

Well, so my first experience with Lark was at a major conference, it was at Dragon Con. And I will say that walking into a room full of strangers, for me is petrifying, anyway. And I've gotten a lot better at faking it as far as that goes. But at that time, I was only just beginning to realize all of the challenges that I had ahead of me, I was, at that point, 36 years old, and just learned that I was these things, I spent that much of my life not knowing. And just thinking there was something strangely wrong with me, and actually knowing what it was made a huge difference and began to make changes. But my friend said, let's try Lark for the first time, I think you'll like it, you know, if he hadn't been with me, there is absolutely no way I could have could have gone through that game. I needed to have somebody there to ground me to let me know that it was okay. If it was too much that I can leave at any given moment, having that support is what you know it because otherwise, I would have just, I wouldn't have been able to stay, I would have been overwhelmed by all of it. Because it was I felt completely alien walking in there. By the end of the game, which was about five hours long, I had the best time, the people made me feel like part of something that I would never have imagined being part of, I was a part of a living story. And I wanted to do it again. So I had a really fantastic experience that got me into it. And but I could not have done it without that that,

Unknown Speaker 17:46

you know, someone they're talking about brings up an interesting question, especially as far as LARP goes, because is the your experience? Is that a reflection of acknowledging the neuro diversity of the particular members that are the particular participants? And you know, by having that support available? Or is it a cultural phenomenon of that local group where when they see somebody who is participating, and they are not engaging, or kind of just sitting off in the corner, or they've got that scared, you know, dough and headlights type of look on their face? is it part of their culture to actually go out and to help them engage in the overall story? And that's where it becomes an interesting discussion, because how this might be just the this might be the the clinician becoming

Unknown Speaker 18:50

out. But can I actually propose that we leave clinical psychology off of this panel and just speak from our own experiences, because it feels kind of kind of slimy to me, unfortunately, is a huge part of my experience. So but your experience as a psychologist doesn't inform your experience as an owner diverse person, like I don't I'm not on this panel to be analyzed. Did you just get explained explanation? Can we please leave this off without but I would love to hear about your experiences an ADHD person, I think that that's something that is much more relevant and walking into a LARP. What kinds of experiences do you have with that as your challenge?

Unknown Speaker 19:41

Well, with that the the challenges that I encounter as an individual if ADHD is the look, there's something going on. I want to get involved. So you jump in How how this impacts the game itself. It can be fairly interesting because the ADHD person is jumping in. I'm just jumping in. I don't know what I'm getting involved in. I'm just talking. I don't know who I'm talking to. I don't know what their role is in the city. what their role is in the game. I'm just talking because shiny, shiny, shiny, shiny, and I want to get involved. Do you have any examples that you want to give?

Unknown Speaker 20:38

Yeah, I think I can give a quick example for each of the three types of ways that are. So the big one is the most obvious one would be the TBI like the memory issues. were like, if you if I come into a game, and I get a massive character sheet, right? Like I cannot memorize this character sheet, I cannot remember who the characters are and who's playing what. So I'm always like discreetly looking at name tags, I have to be able to bring it out physically check all the time. So they're just beings that I just like do not sign up for. On the autistic side, I have, Susan was talking yesterday about and secrets of house games, there's this information economy, I have, it's really difficult for me to advance a game through casual socialization, like I have to be doing something with another character. So a lot of secrets. The powers games are like, Go forth and socialize and learn each other's secrets. And then I always lose. Cuz I like I don't want to talk to you let me make up a bunch of fancy icy reasons I don't want to talk to you. Then the last one is the is PTSD, where like, I think some of my thorniest problems and games have come when morality becomes a topic. And then I really want to talk about the indirect consequences of other characters actions. And it's a major icy theme for me, because I hold people more accountable for the environments that they create. And you know, the safety that their characters are creating in game. And then people just don't get that. And then so people start treating me as jumpy or weird or judgmental. And like, then I'm like, but I'm operating from this entirely different world. But you have to be I want other players to narratively engage with these topics that I consider relevant that they never thought about.

Unknown Speaker 22:19

So long answer. That's interesting. Do you mind if we take a quick? Oh, do you have a question? Yeah. To speak to that. What do you look for a game that can help you to become set to interact?

Unknown Speaker 22:39

More? How can the game design help you to interact? As a neurodiverse? person? What do you look for as far as support like, like, they're talking about, like she had support at that first game at dragon. So what would help you in a game for as far as support from like a game designer

Unknown Speaker 22:57


Unknown Speaker 22:59

So I think that I've mostly been fortunate enough to work with very supportive communities. So just sort of being educated about the considerations that are likely to come into play is actually a really big deal. And also, I guess, from a designer point of view, like creating space, to make sure that care for the players have the attention span, to really learn and detect other players, plotlines and their intended plotlines. Because I talked about this, like a tiny amount of my keynote, but like, when we're all moving really fast, and we're all improvising together. I'm hearing maybe like, 10% of what each player brings to the table, right? And then I'm like, Oh, yeah, wizard evil, you know, like, some fighting and then like, rescue, I'm gonna run with that plot. But like, what if that person is really telling a much more complex story? Like, how can we slow down the process of collaboration, so that we're at, we can include what each other person really wants to include. And that's actually part of why I like logic deep games, because I think that more logic dynamic games, like makes it easier for people to take very shallow interpretations of the content I'm trying to add

Unknown Speaker 24:10

your mind if we take a quick minute break and step outside real quick and rejoin.

Unknown Speaker 24:23

One thing that I would really like to talk about is accommodations, like, what can we both as larpers and also potentially as LARP organizers or staff do to support our players, including those who may be on the autism spectrum who may have mental illness or developmental

Unknown Speaker 24:49

disorders? What What can

Unknown Speaker 24:50

we do?

Unknown Speaker 24:54

So one of the things that I've encountered, I've actually been also very fortunate that people that I interact with in the committee Use that I have worked with have been very understanding about my situation, I have no shame about the conditions I live with. So I have no problem telling people. So, and they've all been very much helpful. And there, there's, I think the safe spaces are awesome. The idea that there is a room here right now that if I'm like, I can't do this anymore, and I need to be quiet, I need things to be quiet, I can go there. And I can have that. And I think if you create that, within even the structure of your game, even make it part of the game that hey, there's, you know, this special room or whatever, whatever your you know, background in the game is going to be, I think that's amazing. And I think that is really valuable, especially if you have anxiety or, like for me, if I'm having a personality shift. And I'm like, Am I going to hold this character, I'm going to need to go do something really like, then that is the perfect option for me.

Unknown Speaker 25:59

And the other thing I would actually add to that as well, is, especially for individuals that may have some of the more impulse control based disorders, looking at it, getting that understanding, you know, when, when an individual that, you know, may have ADHD or may be in a manic phase, starts jumping into stuff, recognizing what recognize that their intent is not to disrupt the game, that the intent. The intent is not to disrupt the game, it's not to hinder anybody else's fun, it's simply to get involved. So it's a more while while they're, their behaviors are more kind of proactive in nature. With most impulse control issues, it's not until you're you've jumped off the ledge that you realize, Oh shit, I just jumped off the ledge. And so then you're trying to it's literally like that, like the Looney Tunes cartoon where you know, wily coyote is trying to he's run off the edge now he's like, Oh, shit, and trying to run back to it, you know, so helping extend the ledge out the ledge of understanding, you know, helps to can can provide a significant amount of assistance for individuals with impulse control issues.

Unknown Speaker 27:26

I think also a lot of the time, like, we know when we need something. So having space to say that, like if you have a casting survey, like because like, I think we as a community are really just barely starting to learn how to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities. And it's still like, relatively outside of our imagination. You know, like, yeah, I mean, it's but like, but then when you have a neurological difference like that is entirely invisible, right? So space to be like, do you have any special like, processing requests or any special like, what, whatever ways of doing things so that somebody can say, you know, I want the space to be able to always have my character spend time with the friend that I came back that came in with, or I want the space to be able to, like, physically tap out? Or, like, I need to be able to sit places where there isn't sound coming from me in two directions at once. Great, great. And,

Unknown Speaker 28:32

yeah, I mean, I have a specific question on that. Do you think it's more helpful to have, like, specific questions about those types of things?

Unknown Speaker 28:44

You know, like noise control and space and interacting with people, or is it because I know a lot of survey just say, like, any other concerns, but then in this

Unknown Speaker 28:53

block? Do

Unknown Speaker 28:54

you think that's helpful? Or no? I think that's a really good question. Like, I mean, on one hand, like, if you just take the three of us in this room, we have completely different needs. And so I don't think there's any way to cover that. But on the other hand, like, I guess, if it's like, Do you need anything else, I would never in a million years think to include that. So maybe like a few examples, with like, such as, you know, some stuff and then so that people can put that out there.

Unknown Speaker 29:20

And it gets to creating that that expectation, you know, the the if you're expecting everybody to be diverse in some way, then it becomes easier to build accommodations into whatever system it is that you're trying to develop or whatever experiences that you're trying to create.

Unknown Speaker 29:44

As neuro diverse people, what do you do to prepare yourself for going into a game? Because, you know, you're you could have these issues. Is there any special preparation Do you do take

Unknown Speaker 29:57

your on your own part, one of the things that I make sure than I do is I make sure that I am medicated. That is I don't think any of us here will disagree with the fact that making sure that we are, we are properly medicated per the requirements and needs of our particular pathology. Because that's how we're going to be able to maximize our functionality.

Unknown Speaker 30:24

To follow up with that D and the survey. suggestion. Do you have any, if a designer were to ask on a survey? Are you taking any medications? Would that violate your feeling of privacy?

Unknown Speaker 30:40

You'll get in trouble. So Well, okay, so so here's, here's an interesting consideration. Can you ask that question? Absolutely. You can do whatever. Here's the thing, what kind of answers are you going to get? Well, you like I shared Medicaid, you may, you may get some folks going. Why are you Why is a game designer asking me questions that my doctor would. And so then you could get some negative reaction as far as that goes. And the same would actually hold true with asking anybody flat out, do you have any psychological issues? You know, where most folks not? That's it, because labels have power? And, you know, we I don't think anyone's here will disagree with that. Yes, it wouldn't be possible instead, to ask a question relating to the concept of art, is there a way that we can help you, and then listing things like help with reminders of medication taking because I know, myself, when I'm in the middle of a game I, I am in a very, and I have a tendency not to? Sorry, sorry, sorry, I have a tendency to not remember to take my medication and time involved in the services. If y'all don't mind, why don't we finish answering the question, prepare for

Unknown Speaker 31:55

the alarm, and then go back? Because it's definitely a really, really relevant question. So we're going to bookmark here. I'm sorry. Let's finish up the house.

Unknown Speaker 32:10

Finishing back the thought that I had before I squirreled medication really, really important. You know, it depends on what your needs are making sure that you've engaged in the appropriate methods to be able to control or otherwise limit the expression of pathology that way, because we can, we can expect game designers and group organizers to do everything possible. But at the end of the day, it's still our responsibility to not only voice our needs, but to make sure that we're taking the appropriate steps to be able to rein in our pathology, so that it doesn't ruin not only our experience, but the experiences of everyone else knows they're

Unknown Speaker 33:03

gonna say that I am not medicated. So I don't have that particular step. Before I even go into the game. I usually know what I'm going to play. And but I don't always know what kind of character I'm going to be playing. So basically, I try to walk in after doing some breathing exercises and techniques, techniques like that. Because I wanted to walk in as clean a slate as I possibly can. I've taken several levels of improv, which have helped me learn how to walk in with my mind clear like that. So if I'm coming into a convention game, I'm going to walk in and I'm going to be like, okay, hand me that thing. And sometimes I don't even ask for a particular kind of character from what kind of characters Give me something. I like to play a diverse amount of, I like to play against the grain I like to play, you know, those kind of things. But But as far as preparation, if it's going to be something that, like I noticed, maybe you're going to be dark, or might go down, like a kind of, you know, scary app, or what have you. I do oftentimes game with one particular individual, my friend, and I will tell him, Hey, you know, if I have concerns about what some things that might happen, I'm like, I don't know if this is going to trigger me or not, because I don't, I can go into a game. And there could be all kinds of scary things. And none of it does it to me. Or I could walk into a game and completely come apart. But as far as taking responsibility, absolutely. I cannot control the way I feel inside, but I can control how I react. And sometimes that means pulling myself out of game. So I go into it with those kind of mindsets. And that is my method of preparation.

Unknown Speaker 34:35

I typically scout a space in advance to make sure that there aren't any surprises and that and like so I have a sense of where in the room I will tend to want to be. I also practice like the yoga class thing where like, you know, at the beginning that you'd like to get a sense of, if you think that anything's likely to come up you go and tell your yoga teacher like that thing. So like I You, mostly This doesn't come up. But like, you know, I am actually relatively entrepreneurial. But there are a few parts of my body where if I get touched, I'll be triggered. So like, you know, if it comes up in a game, I'll like, practically ask the organizer, if the organizer seems like not a very nice person. But I will do a calculation based on how much energy I think I have to deal with everything. But mostly, like people are just nice.

Unknown Speaker 35:26

So do we want to return to the question about privacy and whether or not it's it's, you know, appropriate to ask about things like medication, or if that's something that's helpful.

Unknown Speaker 35:37

So not everybody is out about and coming out about your condition, I'm lucky enough that I don't have any conditions that are likely to get me very ostracize. There's some communities I'm not out about being autistic, and, but it was probably like, like, I came out in the past year in the gaming community, and it was one of the biggest defense of my life to do so. But like, so I would phrase it more like, Are there any medical conditions that we should be aware of, or just like, have a box for like, we want to support and provide resources for neurodiverse people, including such things as but not limited to, you know, medication time checks, like, yeah, 7080 chat rooms, like, talk to us about anything like, you know, whatever, do you have any special requests you would like to make in advance with the understanding that you can also always drinking,

Unknown Speaker 36:31

and something else that might be worthwhile to look at as far as like, the larger conventions and stuff goes, given the tendency of different markings to to explore different things that may have a triggering effect with on individuals, it certainly wouldn't hurt those of organizers to have someone, either they're on staff, somebody, you know, who's trained to be able to de escalate those kinds of situations. So, like, if you have an individual who is having a breakdown, you know, they there is a, there would be a licensed therapist, or somebody there that can, you know, help kind of talk them down, kind of guide them through that, and that, at that professional level intervention, because that if we're talking about safety, and privacy and, you know, making accommodations, then let's make sure that we do it right. These are, these are, these are medical conditions. And so while we can do everything that we can to address them, to a certain extent, we really need to have some sort of medical intervention, if not involved, at least available so that they want to utilize that resource. It is available to them in a conventional intervention environment. Yes. I just wanted to touch back to that. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 38:03

And I understand where you're coming from there, though, that makes me wince a little bit only, because but keeping in mind for convention, yes, I don't think that would be a bad idea. I guess I think a little too much responsible ability for my own personal situation, though, that I, I don't know if that would really be helpful for me, I would actually be more likely to show my breakdown to somebody I knew and trusted very much. So I guess that's part of my desire, one pass.

Unknown Speaker 38:32

And also, I'd like, the support structures for us are typically so low that my bar is exceedingly low. One really nice, considerate person would actually just be great. You know, knowing that I can go to security space over there, I'm just like, fine.

Unknown Speaker 38:51

But But there are some, there are some folks that that would be a major benefit for absolutely, absolutely not. Absolutely.

Unknown Speaker 38:58

Nothing else, at least having the resource available, whether you utilize it or not, it's ultimately going to be up to that individual, but just having an available perhaps maybe the most overt sign of acceptance and accommodation that that real that any that organizations in that environment could possibly make.

Unknown Speaker 39:18

I definitely agree that having a resource available, not only says, you know, this is something we thought about and but it also it gives us a sense of comfort to know that even if I don't need that, even if I don't want it, then it is there. You know, it's it's it's a fallback. And so, for some people it might be more helpful than others to, to speak to a personal example. There's a game that I'm on staff for and I'm mental health, first aid certified. And I very rarely have to use that but I've had many people come and tell me we're We're glad you're here. And on the other hand, I've seen a lot of people say, why does that even matter? Why? Why would you need something like that? I don't understand.

Unknown Speaker 40:13

And to me that that's, that's kind of telling. And did you have a question?

Unknown Speaker 40:22

I hope I can phrase this so that it makes sense. But I feel like we're talking about multiple things here and LARP. For me, my experience with it, I, I've always come across neuro diverse people, although I haven't thought about it in that context. And I feel like LARP is an activity that's uniquely situated to,

Unknown Speaker 40:51

to to

Unknown Speaker 40:53

draw in people that are very diverse, and to provide a therapeutic experience, which is part of what I look for. And so I feel like every live experience you're going to have, is going to bring out I mean, I look to be triggered in some way. And so what I'm trying to get is isn't always bad things, you need to always rein in your, your trigger responses, periods, or humanity. So maybe what we're talking about here is more of LARP, as a community as a whole needs to provide a space that says, This is what LARP is for, is is to bring us together and our neuro diverse people to interact with one another, and not say you're you're particularly weird, because you have this neuro diverse issue or whatever, but that we're all going to be triggered in some way by this experience.

Unknown Speaker 42:01

And recognizing, recognizing that is is is good. I know, for me personally, I have used larb. So I've been part of the mind's eye society since I was since 2002. Okay. The folks that I've gained with have seen me grow up, literally. And what I've, what the experience that I've had with that have helped me along that path helped me grow up, there's been instances where I've played character concepts that have required me to rein in the impulsivity. Let me tell you, playing a ghoul is Roth if if you're you if you have an impulse control issue, because you want to just jump in and be like part of the conversation, but the setting doesn't support, you start to happen. And you eventually learn to not do that play into the setting. But at the same time, it also has been a great outlet for me to be able to process. So my own issues, whether it be career confusion, I've played, I played a doctor, I played a psychiatrist, a dancer, a lawyer, a teacher, and most within the past, probably about six years or so consistent themes have been mental health. So each one of those areas, has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself and kind of play to the Senate. And that's been a way to help kind of improve me and help with making decisions and controlling impulse and making good judgments and all that other fun stuff that we typically would like to have folks that have ADHD impulse control issues do on a fairly regular basis.

Unknown Speaker 43:57

I think I just want to interject about the trigger. I know we throw that word around a lot there are some things though, I yes, I do play to do a lot of interesting things. And I enjoy Norton larps like probably more than I should. But when I'm using that word, it means I'm becoming unreasonably difficult to relate to on any way and I am not going to be able to interact as part of the game. I'm just that that for me is like if I'm that to that point, I'm either going to completely shut down or just be like so wildly upset that it's not there's no there's no game anymore. There's no player it's just now now Oh, tears melting down. So if that's the kind of thing that we're I will need to pull myself away from it. But yeah, there are things that I'm like, afterwards, the debriefing is what I'm like okay, oh my gosh. Oh, no, I need to talk about this. But yes, there are games that I played that I know I'm walking into something that is going to make me uncomfortable and yes, I'm doing this because I Enjoy experiencing and exploring those things.

Unknown Speaker 45:05

And growth comes from, you know, it comes from that those uncomfortable experiences. You know, when we when we encounter those uncomfortable experiences, there's, there's always a reason why it's uncomfortable. And so then we're at a crossroads where we can choose a new way of responding. So if, for example, my way of dealing with x person is to just start shouting at them. Then, at a certain point going, going back about I now every time situations like that occur, I now have a new choice. Do I continue to shout at them? Or do I try something different. And particularly within the context of a game, it makes it interesting because characters have goals, characters have things that they want to do. And just because if if the individual that I'm interacting with betrays a character that isn't, that is an important part of my plan. I need to get them to work with me and shouting at them does not contribute to that to that goal. And so it's a new choice, I can try something new. Well, maybe it's I'm shouting at them. Maybe when I'm when I'm starting to get frustrated, because they're being annoying as all Heck, I just start to smile. I just look at them and smile. And that and that ends up getting a very different reaction than when you're shouting. And as far as the game goes, may lead to me being able to further progress my camp, my own character story, when it comes to taking care of those goals. At the same time on a kind of like an out of character, meta level, I, as a player, as an individual, have just learned and had reinforced a new approach to a something that irritates me that had positive payoff, which is going to increase the likelihood that I'm going to do it again.

Unknown Speaker 47:22

I actually want to I agree with you. And I actually, this is a topic I have very strong opinions about. So I'm going to give slightly long answer. I was gonna ask you this, if you if you? I absolutely do. And that is what the qualification that I'm very fortunate that none of my conditions reduce my ability to function as a player. So most, like most diverse people do not have that. So, but like I, I do play as a way of exploring and accessing a lot of the content. And actually, there were a couple of things that happened earlier, this convention with the community guidelines, and with the talks this morning that I took issue with I loved, loved the vast majority of it. But in the guidelines, there was talk about like, you know, engaging with someone isn't engaging in character, it's engaging out of character, and the conversations we have out of character. And then also in John's talk, he talked about how like, you will have other means of expression, like, it doesn't have to be this game. I actually disagree with that. Because for me, like LARP is one of the very few venues in my life where I have a higher bandwidth, ability to interact with the person that I'm interacting with. And this is the human behind the character. But because of the way that I process in patterns, I get drastically more social data from you, if I'm role playing with you, than if I'm having a conversation with you. And this is why I never go to after parties. Because like, literally, I get nothing out of sitting and talking to someone at a bar. But I can roleplay with you and like talk, watch how you talk about a character's system and like thus derive information about you. So I don't have another choice. So it's actually important to me that community guidelines factor in and validate people who do socialize primarily through roleplay. I don't know what the right approach to this is. But this is actually also why I'm I kind of have mixed feelings about open door policy. Because as a designer, one of the very few ways in the world I have to communicate the ways the patterns by which I model reality and the things I care about is by having people play my game. And for the rest of the time the rest of the world. I don't have a choice but to opt in to neurotypical ways of processing information. So it's a little bit galling to say that no neurotypical can come to my game, not want to spend the time in order to learn how that reality works and just opt out because I don't have the choice to opt That said, I understand that like 99% of open door is not for that. I've just had a few individual bad experiences with people really labeling me and judging me for the content I want to put in my games. That is in the way that I want to organize conflict unions. That so like, I don't know what the approach is to that, I just want that point of view in the conversation.

Unknown Speaker 50:23

If y'all don't mind, we don't have very much time left. And I want to cover one important question, which is, how can players portray during diversity of their characters in a respectful way? Maybe we can just keep it to some things like what are some stereotypes people could avoid? or things

Unknown Speaker 50:50

like that? I'm gonna say two words, fish mouth, oh. So

Unknown Speaker 51:01

what I mean, so Mark Cuban's as a as a concept is is beautiful at when you look at an assembly, where it breaks down is when you mechanically and this is where the stereotypes as far as

Unknown Speaker 51:19

she went to give just a quick five second, what are my Fabians? Oh, honey that has sorry.

Unknown Speaker 51:25

Yeah. Okay. So um, in vampire, the masquerade, milk. avians are a clan of vampires that are insane. They're crazy. There they are. They're their sign is the shattered mirror. And it's because their perspective on reality is not the same as everybody else's. And so they've got some traditional places, because of that something. So there's some benefits to it. But traditionally, while there have been examples in the past, where individuals have taken the ime crazy, as a element as a license to incorrectly, and terribly portray mental health issues, like it's one of the things, I really have issue in game systems, where they are incorporating as derangement, mechanics, things like schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, these are things that in just just those two, from from my, from my perspective, as clinician, that's just scary. If you're, you know, it gets it gets horribly broken, when an inappropriately portrayed to the point where it actually works against, into and perpetuates a stereotype where it works against the individuals that may have that particular disorder, and may actually be doing everything that they need to learn to control their pathology so that they can interact with with folks in that setting. And so it just,

Unknown Speaker 53:07

I think that if you're going to use it as a sanity mechanic or something like that in your game, then you need to do the research and what that actually means. Yeah, and I think that players also should educate themselves somewhat so that they aren't making us and esteem us is like all folks who have various challenges that they live with as far as neuro diversity, that they're not making us a joke, that they're not making us, you know, some kind of like, oh, haha,

Unknown Speaker 53:32

did you see how so once

Unknown Speaker 53:34

I was being in the game, and yeah, oh my gosh, she was so bipolar, blah, blah, blah, you know, throwing around things like that, that is not okay. And that's really it. If it's, I think if it's, you know, done in a respectful way, in an educated way, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It's an interesting mechanic. But it is so often portrayed, it's so poorly, it's like the way you know, mental health is portrayed in Hollywood, it's the same kind of thing. We're just you know, we're cartoons, and severe

Unknown Speaker 54:05

mental health issues. Particularly things that are untreated or that aren't that are not being treated. These are, these are scary situations. Because you take in, you take into consideration the individual's history within the context of that pathology, and you start to get a picture of what of how that individual views the world. A lot of there have been many experiences. This is probably where the fish mouse came out of where they found the schizophrenia mechanic interesting, because oh, it just says views world differently from others. So I'm going to run around with fish in my hands because I think they're swords. And that's not what it's about. It's and that's where the proper resource research And making sure that folks understand that when you start combining trauma and mental health issues, and in a in a character development setting, they need to understand that's, I mean, that's serious shit that we're talking about. It's not it's not a joke, it's not funny. If you can't do it right, then don't do it at all. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker 55:23

My personal representation pet peeve is portraying elaborate planners or doing elaborate planning as evil. or doing elaborate planning as, like non social, like, I have an elaborate planner, I have social skills, I, you know, think about how everyone is going to behave in elaborate detail. And like, for some reason, this makes me annual investment. I guess, also, I do think that we're at just at the point in our society, where globally, we're not educated enough about how most things work, to be able to just take off and play a game about it, I think most of the time, I think you'd have to write a game about it. And have, I just have the process word. Like, I don't really have any applicants just like I incorporate the information with your writing

Unknown Speaker 56:11

one of the one of the things that I do as a storyteller, I, when folks come to me with character character sheets, they like to take derangements and mental health focus flaws, because they're easy, they're easy points, as far as the sheet goes. Unfortunately, their storyteller is a mental health clinician. So I totally challenged them on that. And I make sure that they understand the interaction of as they're telling me about the character, I'm pointing out where their pathology will manifest itself. And after usually a fairly lengthy conversation. They end up reconsidering that particular those particular mechanics that they've had in their sheet, and they opt for other ways to regain the points that they are losing by taking the mechanic off. So in that, in that, in that vein, educating them very much has a positive benefit, because you're able to cut those stare, like you're preventing the fish mouth from being created.

Unknown Speaker 57:24

I tried writing a game once to capture the experience of like memory loss around trauma and like running into new facts about your past and having to integrate them. And it, like totally didn't work. Like other aspects of the game were fine. But like that mechanic failed to capture, and people didn't understand it, and people didn't use it. And so I think that there's something about really deeply like, thinking about what mechanics you would want to use, because I think that, ultimately, it's gonna lie in mechanics, but I'm not a mechanics person. So I guess I would toss out of there are mechanics, people who are interested in advancing the fields, that would be cool. That would be cool. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 58:00

We're, we're almost done with time.

Unknown Speaker 58:02

So I don't know if if anybody has any questions, now's the time or if any of y'all have had final thoughts that you want to express. Otherwise? It's your opinion.

Unknown Speaker 58:19

Are there games that you have played? Maybe there's not a game that is from the perspective and design of a neurodiverse? person? Or maybe there aren't a lot of them? Are there one that you felt? Were you a particularly comfortable playing in just personally based off of the way it was set up? Like, this is a good example for me of a game design, or community design where I was comfortable thinking, again, called signs, and you play deaf children in Venezuela.

Unknown Speaker 59:00

It is absolutely brilliant. It is really, really wonderful. And it was, I enjoyed the whole experience of it. I also have a mild form of synesthesia where movement creates sound. So I see noise, white noise when people are moving. So this was actually an environment where we weren't, you know, there was no talk. And like, through like the local thing we were just in, we're making this language and it was amazing how interconnected we became without saying a word. It was really, really bad. I think it was one. And I played a lot of really great partnerships where it's been saved like that. As I am very fortunate to have an amazing community, but that I think pops up as like one of the top.

Unknown Speaker 59:46

And as far as my experience goes, I'm actually going to say no, but my experience is also fairly limited. I've only been LARPing since I since 2002, when I joined the NBA And so that's really my only basis as far as for comparison. I mean, I've read mechanics for different larps like Emperor like fading suns, and the different White Wolf genre games. And as far as that goes, I've seen on a on an individual level, when I design a character, I go towards a, like things like the the Scholastic and major, the ones that are there, they're crazy. Because their their perspective is not synonymous. They're crazy, but their perspective of the world has literally been destroyed. But I'm comfortable being able to portray something like that, because I've got the the background to be able to conceptualize what that looks like. So that's, I wouldn't say that's a, necessarily a setting in which it's better for individuals that are not me. I guess if you had if you had an individual that were like me that had my experience, and and educational background, then they could conceivably do well with with a concept like that, with that particular element. But just in general, it's too It's too focused on just like me to be a generalist for everybody else.

Unknown Speaker 1:01:15

I do feel the need to mention, since we've talked about clinicians, that not all neuro diverse people feel safe with clinicians are filled with clinical psychology, because it's sort of like police. There's some people that they help and there's some people that they screw over. And especially like, you know, if you come from the trans community, like, you know, if you like some people that has governance, like are used to, like it's, it's an uncertain kind of corruption situation. And that's, that's a really tough one. I do, I have played some with friends who share like, my specific, like conditions, but it wouldn't have been anything that you guys have heard of. And then I have some that I've read, but that I haven't played. like seeing clay was an honorable mention. Golden Cobra, this past year. bliss stage by Ben lemon is a very emotional immersion game that also deals with like chocolate loss.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:16

I guess the challenge then, would be to create more games that are accommodating or that could artfully and respectfully capture the experience of many different types of people.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:31

I think there's actually something really important to that, because it's the question of like, Who is your audience? And where's the burden of education? Right, like, I want to write games for other like autistic PTSD people, like this is a pretty narrow audience, I'm not going to be able to send out an email and be like, Okay, I'm looking for 12 to 14 logistic PTSD players, for this game on Sunday night, like that's not going to happen. So I always have to decide between writing tiny games, random games, in which that with that focus within a loosely immersive way. Or, you know, taking on the burden of teaching people who I don't actually understand how to get to the point of thinking like me, where if I knew how

Unknown Speaker 1:03:11

to do that, I would just like not have this problem. So like, I don't know how to go about that. But it's actually like, I think there's a lot of like, what do you do with that in the community events, the state of the art?

Unknown Speaker 1:03:23

That's an interesting question.

Unknown Speaker 1:03:26

Well, that that is our time. So thank you all so much for being here. And thank you guys for listening and asking such good questions.

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