Halat hisar (State of Siege in English, Piiritystila in Finnish) is a Palestinian-Finnish larp designed for Finnish and Palestinian players, as well as participants from other countries. Created by Palestinian larp designers working together with Finnish organizers, it’s meant to bring unique Palestinian perspectives to the participants in the form of an accessible and engaging game.
Halat hisar is a game about life under occupation. You are a student or teacher at the University of Helsinki, in the Occupied Finnish Territory of the South Coast. You are not a citizen of any recognized country, and your daily life features crossing checkpoints and encountering occupation soldiers and violent fanatic settlers.
Or maybe you’re a journalist specializing in the North European conflict, or a human rights activist who has come here to stand in solidarity with the Finns. The purpose of the game is to mirror the current situation of Palestine in Finland and give the players a picture of everyday life under occupation.
Larp is a co-creative, participatory artform. Most fundamentally, it’s the art of experience: You are a Finnish student living under the occupation regime. You cross the checkpoint, you are arrested by the soldiers and subjected to interrogation. You have a character, a role to play, but how you play it is up to you. There’s no script, and surprising things can happen, just as in real life.
The role of the organizers is to create characters, a scenario and a setting that are interesting and meaningful to play. There’s no audience, so every participant plays for their own sake, and for the sake of their co-players.
The game itself will be preceded by workshops where participants learn the tools they need to have a good experience. Halat hisar can be played as a newcomer or an experienced larper. What matters is the desire to participate.
The Lives of Others
Halat hisar features Palestinian and Finnish participants, as well as players from further afield. For us, the larp is a place where people can learn from each other’s experiences as they create a fictional world together for a few days.
Playing in a larp about occupation will not tell you exactly how it feels like to be a Palestinian. But it will give you tools to better understand the experiences of others.