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Public Memory: When History Isn't Universal

RPG system: LARP
Participants: 4-8 players

Organized by

Learn Larp, LLC


✏️Maury Elizabeth Brown


Public Memory is a game about what happens when your views about history are challenged, both as new information is discovered and social norms begin to change. Using a fictional scenario, it wrestles with the ideas of who gets to decide how history remembers a person, and what to do when that person is complicated -- neither a true hero or villain. It seeks to bring the subtleties of institutional racism to light, and to showcase the personal and political agendas that are at stake when a question of competing historical narratives is broached and must be decided. Public Memory is played in three acts. Each Act is a part of a political process concerning representing history in the small town of Freedburgh. Breaks between acts allow players to debrief, switch characters, and plan. The game includes a pre-play workshop and a short de-roleing and debrief at the end. Costuming is not required, as you switch characters each act. Characters are negotiated and assigned after arrival; there is no character questionnaire and you will not receive your character ahead of time.

This game is written for players of all ethnicities and genders. The characters' genders and ethnicities are not assigned, and players may choose a gender or ethnicity that is not the same as the player’s, depending on which characters are selected and the composition and preferences of the player group. You do not need to perform your character's race, gender, or culture; people can be racialized by others regardless of how they look, dress, or speak. Your character's identity can be conveyed to other players before each Act and noted on your name tag. Racial stereotyping and blackface performance is strictly forbidden. Pre-play workshops go over sensitivity and respectful portrayals; debriefs include processing any negative feelings.

Content Warning This game includes themes of racism, characters who may be racist, and may include racist dialogue as you wrestle with intersectionalities and competing views of history. Some characters may seek to justify and rationalize racist thinking, while others may be more subtly racist, even as they consider themselves objective. Other characters may be affected by racism, and speaking up about it may put them in the position of increasing that oppression.

Safety This game uses Open Door Policy, Consent Negotiation, OK Check-In, and Dial-it-up/Dial-it-down mechanics.

Played at

Intercon S: Smoke and Mirrors (2019)

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