Here's an abridged translation of a Imagonem interview with Heikki Holmås, Norway's new minister of International Development. Holmås is a lifelong D&D player and LARPer who won the Norwegian D&D championships in 1989 and was sent to GenCon in Milwaukee. Holmås recounts his favorite campaigns and describes how he things RPGs and LARPs can be used for political ends, including settling longstanding, militarized disputes.
– RPGs can be extremely relevant in putting people in situations they're unfamiliar with. Save the Children have their refugee games. I have friends in Bergen who've run human rights-RPGs. But you have to be professional. You create real emotions when you play role playing games, real emotions that stick, he says.
– That's kind of the slightly scary aspect of role playing games, which has to be considered. At the same time, it's what makes it possible for RPGs to change the world. LARP can change the world, because it lets people understand that humans under pressure may act differently than in the normal life, when you're safe.
The minister of Development has taken note of a Norwegian LARP-project in Palestine later this year.
– I don't know all the details, but there's no doubt that you can put Israelis into the situation of the Palestinians and vice versa in a way that fosters understanding and builds bridges. Those things are an important aspect of role playing games which makes it possible to use them politically to create change.
(Photo: Imagonem/Ole Peder Giæver)