The Ars amandi method is a way for characters in larps to be sexual and or physically sensual without the players actually having sex. It has been used extensively internationally since 2003 and has had very different applications in different games. In some games Ars amandi makes up part of the fiction – it is literally how these fictional people make love. In other games, it’s a representational method, so the players experience Ars amandi but their characters “experience” sex.
The core of the Ars amandi method involves limiting the body area that the players touch and use in physical interaction to hands, arms, shoulders (above where the breasts begin and including shoulder blades, but not lower) and the neck (under and not including the earlobes). In some instances the interaction has been restricted to only include hands and arms. Touching these areas, combined with eye contact and breath and moans constitutes the A to Z of Ars amandi.
The method of Ars amandi has been a game changer in the Nordic larp discourse, mainly because actions we have practiced are easier to perform and things that can be performed can be played. Love and sex are scary to many people because it means performing intense actions and feelings. On the other hand, so are death, physical abuse and fear and these themes have been used in larps since the very beginning.
One big difference is that representations of violence are abundant in our western society. Kids watch violent cartoons, they play with plastic guns and swords and big mainstream films often contain realistic graphic violence. Graphic representations of sex is generally considered porn, a derogatory term that signals that special caution is advised. This has carried over into the media of larp to a large extent.
To enable players to explore themes outside mainstream narratives they are often helped by methods and workshops in which they can do safe exploration and practice. For organizers that plan on using methods such as the Ars Amandi pre game workshops is a necessity.
Rules of Engagement – Emma Wieslander, 2004 (published in Beyond role and play)
The original description of the Ars amandi method, its background and some experiences from using it. http://www.ropecon.fi/brap/ch17.pdf
And republished in The Foundation Stone of Nordic Larp, available on the Nordic larp wiki (http://nordiclarp.org/wiki/The_Foundation_Stone_of_Nordic_Larp)
Our Guide to the Ars amandi workshop – Emma Wieslander, 2014
The purpose of this manual is to help organizers who want to use Ars amandi as a method for playing sex and intimacy in larp, either for a specific game or in general to give them a feeling for it so they can incorporate it in their work. We go through how we do workshops step by step. The Ars amandi workshop available in pdf.