Imagine Nation Collective and it's affiliates use the "OK Check-In" System.
The system is a tool allowing players to communicate with each other out of character about their well-being without pausing the flow of play around them. The basics of the concept can be found below. You can also watch a brief video available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/W3EMLaJSfaE
There are different ways of feeling "not good" in a LARP. You might be feeling bad physically or emotionally for reasons perhaps not even related to the LARP.
Your character might be in a situation that the player does not care to engage in (but is still in because of politeness, or because it happened gradually and the player never stopped to consider how they were feeling when the situation changed around the character). You might find yourself in a situation that makes you feel unsafe or interacting with players you, upon consideration, do not trust. In all of these cases, it is useful if someone passing by or outside the situation checks in with you. If someone inside the situation checks in with you, even better, because that demonstrates they care whether you're ok.
Sometimes you're in a one-on-one role-playing situation that gets intense or perhaps intimate. One thing leads to another, and now your characters are screaming at each other. If you're not sure your co-player is entirely into it, or whether they'd be less into it if they stopped to consider, or if the content if not typical or obvious to the LARP, or the whole thing was a bit of a surprise, or something meaningful and important (like a campaign character death) just happened, it's a good idea to check in.
We do not like to think that this will ever come up, but this system should never be used to advance a character, escape IC consequences or to negatively affect another character/player. A player found abusing this system for their benefit will be reprimanded and, at the discretion of the game runner, asked to leave the event.
We would like to give credit to Johanna Koljonen's blog Safety In Larp for the excellent description and Maury Brown, Sarah Bowman and Harrison Greene for the current version of the system, used at New World Magischola.
You notice that another player appears to be in potential distress in an interaction or an emotional way or someone looks a little queasy or is studiously making Normal Face. As a conscientious human, you wish to check in with them to make sure they are engaged and enjoying the scene. In fact, if at any point in the LARP you find yourself wondering about whether that character is really unhappy, or whether that's a player being unhappy, or if something just feels off - check in. If you don't, your worry will distract you from your experience. If it's nothing, you'll be relieved. And if that person needs the nudge of a check-in to take care of themselves, or your help to get out of a tricky situation, you'll be happy you did.
One person makes the "OK" hand sign at another one. This indicates the question "are you ok?"
The other player responds in one of three ways.
- Thumbs up - means they're OK and play can continue
- A level hand - means the player doesn't quite know how they feel, or that it's neither very good or very bad. This should be treated as a thumbs down by the person doing the asking.
- Thumbs down - means the player is actually not OK, and should be extracted from the situation.
If the player indicates a level hand or a thumbs down, you can then quietly approach them and ask "would you like me to take you to Ops?" We do not ask the person who need to be brought to Ops what is wrong. Handling personal issues is not about the person asking but instead about the individual who is potentially in distress.