LARPBook has been running a series of articles and commentaries on ideas around the financing of LARP events. You can catch up
We’ve put these posts to the UK LARP group on Facebook. Here are the results.
First a response to trading money for character advantage (plus other thoughts)
But it is a model you could choose to follow as an organiser. Some people argue players do this already selling stuff they get with ooc money for ic money. Organisers doing it means they get the ooc money themselves. Not convinced it is a model I would want to follow.
I feel the suggestions on the original article I have seen already. Stargate lrp I the uk runs on a membership scheme as does f and h I believe.
Several systems have food as an extra on the event cost.
I do like the installed end idea I know some big systems have done this with pay by standing order. I remember doing that for shards as well i believe
And now other comments
When I run events, I’m paranoid enough about the kit and catering when it’s 100% in my control. I think I’d worry too much to outsource anything so fundamental to parts of the player base.
We could make events a lot Cheaper just by moving out of the Midlands. Our events end up at the price they are because of the compromises we aren’t willing to make.
2 in a row coming up from New Zealand
For an NZ perspective: I’m constantly boggled by people saying “it should be cheaper”. It costs $X per person to hire a camp and $Y per person to feed them for the weekend. Add on $Z hundred / number of players for new gear and consumables and fudge factor, and that’s how much it is going to cost. It won’t get cheaper because it can’t get cheaper, unless we starve you (which is not a recipe for a good, fun weekend).
Instead, we focus on the other barriers to entry. Gear? People will loan you stuff initially until you’re sorted, maybe even make it for you if you’re nice. Transport? We have a good culture around carpooling (and trip organising for those flying to a game). And despite it costing anywhere from NZ$100 – NZ$150 for a weekend-long game, we don’t seem to have a lack of players for them.
OTOH, we also have a strong culture of crewing. Crew get huge discounts – basicly, they pay only food and housing – and in some games the crew cost can be half what it costs to play. As a result, its seen as a cheap trial – you crew a game to see if you like the experience, and you play something if you do. And its usual to have a 60% or even 100% crew / player ratio.
Funding LARP is hard. However we also need to look at the fact that when you start it can not be all singing and dancing. If you are starting out and its new then you have to invest int the game and look at a return over the long run. When we ran darkmere we did not aim to break even till game 3 or 4 ! (Covering a woods in 600 meters of 3 meter high fabric sort of broke that a bit!) Your players have to accept that it will be bare bones to start with, but it will get better. You need to constantly plough funds back in to your game to make it worth people coming to play. I can’t help but feel reading some of the posts i have seen over the last few months that people want an instant return on their money, if you want that then your in the wrong game! Also there is no golden set of rules to funding and running larp, well except keep to the prop budget then spend £200 more. Each larp system is different and will appeal to different people, just make sure you have a solid thought out base for the game with a development plan. Dont make each event a world ending one.. as what do you do if the players fuck it all up.. end your game ? You need to hook them and keep them interested. So you have to balance revenue streams vs play ability vs commitment vs player commitment vs life. Very few get it right.
Depending on your setup, ‘quality’ (i.e. you need to book a site for a weekend, transport to and from and put on food as well as support a non-paying crew) can be surprisingly cheap.
DUTT actually had a bit of a problem with events costing less than people were willing to pay – not just incredibly cheap linear but big ‘quality’ events involving booking, catering transport.
It was a nice problem to have – but student societies aren’t supposed to make money! – and too much money pooling around inevitably leads to poorly conceived expenditure and a tendency to encourage carelessness in accounting.
Probably the main reason for the low costs was that the society had been running for 20+ years (25+ years now) – highly skilled people were willing and able to pitch up and make a 12 course banquet at £7 cost just because they’d been part of the society 10 years before (and they got to catch up with old friends there).
And that knowledge base also pays off in knowing cheap sites, good transport companies. Also – the North of England is cheap – I once rented a room in a 4-bedroom student house for £70/month – a whole 3 miles out of Durham – site costs are not that low, but in line.
Comment from LARPBook
Finally where do I stand on this. I think we had a period in the UK and other countries where larp costs where lower than they are now. This was reflected across venue, food, fuel and kit. However venue costs especially seem to be rising, and we are all looking for higher and higher production values. None of these are conducive to cheap games. I think we need to look at clever ways to run game financing in order to help keep thins accessible and also to give players (old and new), firm expectations as to the aims of the game and what it is likely to look and feel like.
The good news is that from running these articles and asking these questions of the community, it would seem that these issues are being addressed. Lets hope that this leads to an era of even better larp.
The photo for this article comes from Flickr User Images Money. You can learn more about this photo and its licence by clicking here.