Thursday, 3 September 2015

That event is too expensive

I’m beginning to understand that I need to blog more. I am coming across the fact that people not only respond to what I have to say at times, what I have to say is a different perspective to what most perceive or write about.

First off, I have to say I hate the way ‘influential’ people in LARP – names well known across a variety of LARP platforms – write as if their way is the only way. Not because they necessarily do influence people, but because there is very little to challenge them – challenges are also not responded to often, cited or shared. There seems to be one platform that these well-known to speak from – responses and reviews are constrained to groups on Facebook meaning the majority of responses are well out of public eye.

This invariably leaves many people assuming what is written or said here by these people is the only way. It’s not. It’s far from.

For example, I notice that the forum has been removed from the CP website. Almost like they don’t want people to read what is questioned and responded to there. One wonders what LARP has to hide.

There’s a lot more I have to say about this – from DrowGate to the way such discussions have been moved about many times – to the way I’ve seen acts like DrowGate attempted to be kept out of public eye – to the way large systems respond to their players.

So, it should be no surprise that I hate this article in its approach.

The article is, I agree, correct. What it says is totally right. Players do moan about costs and the organisers do pay out of their own pocket, which isn't really fair.

But that’s not what this article is about. It might be informative – but what it’s saying is “shut up moaning about it” – because it doesn’t address other issues. It doesn’t approach anywhere near the understanding of what players mean when they say “its’ too expensive”.

As much as the term “I’ll pray for you” transfers the discussion from your pain to my faith, this article is just as condescending in its lack of empathy – and shows the total disconnection the writer has with what “common” players perceive during a LARP – in a similar way to MPs having no idea about everyday life for a working class or a person that can’t work for whatever reason.

First, the article uses inflated numbers in the hopes of getting something across. £600-£1,200 for 30 weapons –individual designs not batch? Well, get batch. “Most sites in the UK that I have approached vary between £500 to £1750 for a three day hire” – really??? I’ve previously paid £5 per night per player. At 30 players I paid £750 for 5 nights. “Cost of toilets range from…” Why are you buying toilets? They don’t have them on site? … Wait, how many players are you attempting to demonstrate this for?

Seriously, write one article for 30 players and one for ‘fest’, whatever number you deem to be ‘fest’. Confound the scale, and it confounds issue and muddies the numbers involved too.

The article cites Mythlore charging over £100 a ticket – “and if you have seen any of the photos from those events it’s very easy to see why. The standards of kit are incredible.” One comment even agrees saying that LARP has suffered by making events too cheap! Sorry – but when did LARP become about just costume and how something looks? Use your imagination for heaven’s sake – especially for smaller events - not everything is about kit! Plot first, props second. Snobbery over how a LARP looks is affecting smaller games – players don’t want to attend because it “doesn’t look cool”. One wonders why LARP started at all if it’s just about looks – that’s Cosplay surely? (I know it’s not, but hey, tongue in cheek…)

But the main thing is this. You didn’t understand what a player meant when they said “it’s too expensive”.

CP to me is too expensive. So is Alrune, Empire and LT are too expensive.

I’ll say it again – they’re too expensive for me.

First, you have to understand that different people have different commitments and money issues. LARP needs to start recognising that people sometimes need help and should start looking into alternative means of settling people’s money. Sites like GoCardless, for example, allow people (not companies) to set up Direct Debits with each other. In the modern age the number of people that know how to deal with money are dwindling. Some people need help, and if you’re providing a service you should consider ways to help get that service to them.

Second, I’m not forking out money for nothing in return.

With these games I’m essentially buying “air”. That’s too expensive for something I get for free in my daily life.

To put it another way, many game systems have players that feel left out, let down or ignored. That’s not every player, no – but a portion. This portion spends money to come to any event you run. They are buying from you the service of having a game to play. What they feel like they get is pretty much the end of the first season of LOST – shafted.

I know, I get it. You try to do your best. Not every experiences the same things. Games can be what you make them. Some players do like to sit back and whinge but not do anything about it. Some players get missed out because you have a lot of players.

Tough. Some players will moan, some will leave because they don’t feel like they’re getting anything.

Some will tell you that it’s too expensive. Because, to them, it is.

And that’s why I hate this article. It’s reductionist, dismissive of concerns and divisive in trying to convince you why LARP has to be expensive.

And now I’m going to get a cup of tea and muse about LARPs I know that do very well for £4 for a day event… yum! Cookies!