I was in email correspondence with a fellow LARPer and acquaintance not long back when a couple of lines they wrote wrote struck a chord with me, “I have made progress (regarding LARP outreach and united hobby growth) in this area, but I have but one voice. A group of us, united by our common interest to unify the hobby will have that much more clout.
“I feel it falls to … this group of people that look beyond the singular interests of a specific LARP group, to make this happen.”
My reply back included a challenge, which I feel is worthwhile to share (emphasis added), “And you’re right, one voice in a crowd doesn’t get far, but a chorus of voices does and I don’t think it’s arrogant at all to want to foster such communication and collaboration. … I see it [fostering communication and growth] as the responsibility of any LARPer who wishes to see the hobby grow and progress in a forward direction. It’s also something that I feel we should collaborate on, encourage and foster amongst each other; or as you have shared a ‘group of people that look beyond the singular interests of a specific LARP group.’ If someone is undertaking a worthwhile endeavor we should try to support it to help not only show and foster community spirit but encourage such positive endeavors.“
Far too often I see good stuff either ignored or put down because it’s different, championed by a person or group that an individual does not agree or get along with or they think that it’ll be too much work to put forth some effort to support the effort they see and admire. I feel that much of this is due to our society and how we are taught to perceive others and the projects of others: As competition rather than collaborators. I’ll even admit that I’ve been guilty of this on occasion.
However, I also feel that if we work to support a worthwhile endeavor that we find that it will in turn foster a greater sense of community within the US and regional LARP communities as a whole, as well as be the catalyst that others might need to start their own positive endeavors.
Now, this support need not always be chucking money, time or effort toward the endeavor. Merely passing word along to your friends (who LARP) and others within your LARPing groups and circles can be a big help, particularly for a hobby that finds word of mouth to be the greatest tool of the bunch. If you want, are able and the individual whose project or endeavor you admire has the capacity to accept other help by all means feel free to offer such. If nothing else, at least let the project lead know that you’re appreciative of their efforts and what they’re doing.
On a similar note and speaking to a point brought up earlier, if you see someone working on a project similar to what you had planned it might be a good idea to explore combining efforts rather than be at potential odds with each other and your respective projects. If that’s not possible, then perhaps look at a bit of collaboration and definatly respect each other’s projects.
I also feel it should be noted here that when helping another, to do so for the betterment of the community and the project or endeavor you’re supporting as a whole and not just a way to “brand” that project with your effort and turn it into an advertising pitch of your own. Nothing can ruin a potential networking and community building opportunity than a person that has ulterior motives behind their supportive assistance.
In closing I’d like to highlight some projects and individuals who I feel are making or have made worthwhile contributions to the US LARP hobby or have been an inspiration to me and deserve this verbal support and recognition:
- Christopher Amherst and the LARP Calendars – Thanks for helping LARPers find out about the events going on in their region and helping to promote the hobby around the US.
- LARP Alliance – While they’re just starting to work on a more nationwide presence, its good to see another organization spring up whose efforts are the support and promotion of the hobby in all its forms around the country.
- Merchant’s Guild – A small, free auction site with a lot of potential who counts LARPers amongst its primary audience. A lot of work has been done to encourage people to visit and utilize this free auction side and I know there’s a lot of work going on to make it even better.
- WyrdCon and Live Effects and the LARP Alliance – Not only do I see this as a great example of collaboration, but I think this event has potential on many levels: from fostering community within the hobby to networking opportunities and more.
- Nat with her game Mortal Tears and the Shadow Accord team taking over in Jan – This Seattle area game was what I’d call the first significantly experimental LARP in the Pacific Northwest and I know that this game has inspired many Pacific Northwestern (and dare I say beyond) LARPers to create more experimental LARPs.
- LARPA– LARPA and its predecessor organizations I feel did wonders for showing how an non-LARP specific organization could help the hobby here in the US. While the focus has obviously become theater/parlor style games its impact can be felt across the whole hobby.
- Shade’s LARP List – This has been a LARP mecca for LARPers from across the US and world. While the LARP list is rather dated, the forums are still lively and a great place to connect with other LARPers.
- LARP Tower – This is a new project that’s just getting off the ground and one that I feel has potential to become an information source within the hobby.
- Seventh Kingdom IGE – I feel this group is a great example of how a game can be fun to play and still a part of the hobby, but also professionally run and managed. A lot of good lessons can be learned from these people.
- Devia and Brian Gregory – A UK fest style LARP that has started up in the Pacific Northwest and for the US, a rather new style of LARP. Looking back at forum posts on the game’s development makes a good learning excercise.
- LARPSource.com and Kevin Tjia – This site and its author, Kevin, have been a great source for networking and also another example of how hobby project can collaborate and help each other.
- Gamer: The Podcasting – While no longer around, this podcast when it was active was not only fun to listen to, but got people thinking. The topics discussed often were things which affected many styles and forms of LARPing.
- Diane Peterson – Who taught me not only how a good LARP should be run, but helped instill in me good LARPing ethics.
- Rory Clark – For helping to reiterate what I learned in my early LARP “education” about good games, good players and showing me how a LARP could be scary without being deadly.
- Conor T. (you know who you are and I know you hate your full name being used) – For not only being a great sounding board, but also sharing and encouraging the inception of new ideas in games.
- Mike Young from Interactivites Ink – A very forward thinking LARP designer and academician, who I’m proud to have a chance to interact with.
- Gordon Olmstead-Dean – His essays are not only thought provoking but also informative. A lot can be learned by reading his writings. His work with LARPA has also helped make him a nationwide name amongst the hobby.
- Nat Budin – He has written some essays which I feel are must reads, but he’s also willing to help out when and where he can within the hobby.
And I know this list will grow over the coming months and years as more and more people inspire me with great ideas, support and new ways of looking at things.
What projects, groups, organizations or people do you look up to and admire or have inspired you? What is it about these people or groups that inspires you? What do you feel about supporting the good?
The next column will be on the importance of trust. As always I love to hear feedback and suggestions for further articles. Feel free to leave a comment here at the Mortalis Games site, write Amber at webmaster [at] mortalisrpg [dot] com or once this goes live on RPG.net, visit the article’s forum thread (there should be a link below the article to it) to see what else has been shared or to leave a comment there.