Cosmic Joke has created a mini-documentary about a satirical LARP ad agency called PanoptiCorp. For those who don’t know LARP stands for Live Action Role-Play. Usually it involves a bunch of nerds running around pretending to be wizards and shit. PanoptiCorp is different.
Created in Norway in 2003 by Eirik Fatland (and recently reimagined in Copenhagen, Denmark), PanoptiCorp skewers the “sometimes Orwellian nature of the late-capitalist workplace,” as Fatland puts it. Its players, who mostly have no experience in advertising, play cynical, morally corrupt characters. PanoptiCorp pitches ideas to sell everything from adult diapers to plush My Little Pony vaginas. They help restore the credibility of African dictators and promote euthanasia with cats.
Due to the nature of the morally corrupt characters they play, many of the players have an interesting psychological relationship to the game. Several of them have had to quit the game for different periods of time. It’s this unusual nature of the game/player relationship that makes the documentary (as well PanoptiCorp itself) interesting. Some players find the game psychologically damaging, losing themselves too completely in their roles. Others say their roles have forced them to reevaluate their real-life values in positive ways.
“When you leave a LARP, you always take something with you,” says PanoptiCorp Game Master Claus Raasted. So what have PanoptiCorp players taken with them? “Point one: They don’t want to work in the ad world ever. Point two: They’d probably be quite good at it. And three: The world of advertising is a crazy, crazy, fucked up place.”
PanoptiCorp creator Eirik Fatland hopes that PanoptiCorp will make players who are again “again confronted with institutions that have ideologies” to be aware of the process and “be more critical of the ideologies [they] adopt.”
You can learn more about the 2013 running of PanoptiCorp here. The mini-documentary is part of Cosmic Joke’s feature-length LARP documentary, Treasure Trapped. It’s a really intriguing look at an unusual phenomenon if you have 15 minutes to spare during your lunch break.