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Saturnalia Dev Diary #5

Saturnalia Dev Diary #5

Sensitivity and Inclusion

Hello! My name is Sereia Spinner, and I am the sensitivity consultant for Saturnalia. I’m a historian, consultant, writer, and of course, LARPer. I’ve been LARPing for almost 5 years and like many of you, Vampire the Masquerade was the first LARP I ever participated in. It’s an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to consult on a new take of the first LARP system I ever played, and doing so alongside Reverie and By Night Studios has been immensely rewarding.

As a sensitivity consultant, it’s my job to review the game and materials to see how they may affect marginalized people. I use both my lived experience as a queer Black nonbinary larper and my background in both History and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to provide guidance to larp runners on ensuring that the games they are running are safe, inclusive, and accessible. In addition to providing sensitivity consulting, I also served as a writer for a couple of the clans as well as a couple of character groups.

What really drew me to work on Saturnalia was Reverie and By Night Studios’ commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive game from the beginning. It has been my experience that too many game developers wait until the project is nearing completion before bringing in sensitivity readers and consultants, if they should hire them at all. It’s important to involve consultants from jump in order to build a successful foundation of inclusion, diversity, and accessibility as well as respect. I’m glad to be working alongside a team that wants to get it right from the beginning and ensure that Saturnalia has a solid foundation with respect to diversity and inclusion.

As a sensitivity consultant, it is also my job to provide another perspective to help guide the game runners into considering things they might have overlooked during the design process. For example, Saturnalia takes place in New Orleans, an old Southern city with a history that spans as far back as the early 1700s, it is especially important that the setting is handled with the utmost care and consideration. Given the pervasive nature of the larp and the use of multiple venues, there are bound to be venues used whose history and aesthetic is rooted in the enslavement of Black people. It’s important that the history of the building is not overlooked, so it’s important to provide the proper context in order to honor the legacy and memory of those who lived and worked there. This can be something as small yet meaningful as providing a blurb on the history of the site and a request that players treat the space with respect.

It’s not only important because you want to do right by the setting, but also because you want to do right by your player base as well. One of the reasons I love larping is because of the myriad of stories that get told by the players. It’s important that these spaces are as diverse and as inclusive as possible in order to cultivate a diverse player base which will hopefully ensure that diverse and inclusive stories are told which will only enrich the larp. Bringing on a sensitivity consultant can ensure that there is space and consideration to tell diverse stories. 

9th Jul 2022 Sereia

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