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Jan. 3rd, 2010 | 04:51 pm
location: Crushed Under the Sideways Eight
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
music: MEXICAN RADIO, by Wall of Voodoo

Had an interesting discussion at Ann & Steve's semi-annual gaming day on the 1st. The topic was the dearth of TSFL LARPs during the last few years. [Comments apply to the mid-Atlantic region].

Mike (Young) has run LULLABY OF BROADWAY and LOB2:ALL THAT JAZZ more or less back to back (which is to say, very close together for full weekend, choose-your-own-character [from a large pool] LARPs), and intends to follow them up with LOB3:INTO THE WOODS next year. Have any other TSFL LARPs run in the last 2.5 years? How many are being worked on now by their respective creators, and what point have they reached in the creative process? Having the advantage of a predefined audience, Mike already has most of his players lined up for LOB3, and will be getting his writing groove on according to his schedule. Only one other TSFL LARP was known to be on the drawing board by people involved in our discussion, and the group responsible has not yet begun to beat the drum (i.e., has announced no date, no venue, and no theme).

(edit - the Research Dept. reminds me that THE ISLAND ran during the last two years...]

The economy, of course, is not conducive to expensive hobbies (and full weekend LARPs are expensive, both to their players and their producers); still, people make exceptions to indulge in hobbies which grab and hold their imaginations. Campaign LARPs have continued throughout the last decade in spite of economic considerations. It was suggested in conversation that campaign LARPing is necessarily destructive to TSFL LARPing, because people who are committed to a campaign are putting their energy and money into running and participating in those campaigns. A campaign LARP might have events 4 or more times in a year, and travel and lodging costs for each weekend are similar to the cost of attending as many standalone LARPs. There may be some synergistic savings on some costumes and props, which might be used multiple times for the same campaign, but still the overall expense is going to be similar to attending multiple TSFL LARPs. Campaign LARPers might understandably hesitate to produce or even play in standalone events, because pockets are not infinitely deep.

It has also been suggested that the "life happens" factor has caused some people who had been active in LARPing to step away. It is certainly true that priorities can change with the passage of time and the occurrence of any of a number of signature events (becoming parents, for instance). Whether or not those priorities will once again include LARPing cannot be known until they do.

Also mentioned was the Personality problem. Not everyone gets along well together. Feelings can run from mild dislike up to open hostility (the latter usually starting as dislike and proceeding to hostility because of some specific event). It was suggested that some people may had drifted a little away because of problems with this or that person. Given that the LARP community is a maze of interconnections, it is possible that some LARP people currently feel disconnected because a sizable number of their points of contact currently converge near someone that they personally are uncomfortable around.

Of course, there are new people coming to LARP every year, but one can't necessarily expect newer LARPers to step right up and start producing events. There are exceptions, of course, but sometimes people need a catalyst to get started. They may need the right partner or partners, friends who can provide complementary skills and talents, someone to brainstorm with, someone to share the work with, and someone to provide emotional and other support throughout the process of producing a TSFL LARP. They may need a spark - something that galvanizes them, fills them with a vision and purpose to achieve some specific end.

No conclusions were reached during this discussion - among other things, time ran out - but it was of interest, and I thought it might be to some of you, as well.

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Comments {2}

Secretly Mike Young

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from: ambug666
date: Jan. 4th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)

TSFL LARPs are a LOT of work. Think of it this way: an episode of Threads can be written in a couple of months. It takes me about a year to write LoB. Same number of players. Of course, Threads has a better infrastructure, and many more people working on an event, so it might be apples and oranges. But Threads can reuse characters, plots, props, and processes. LoB can leverage some of what has come before, but I'm really recreating the wheel each game.

I know that the Delaware crowd runs a TSFL LARP on Labor Day every year, but the genre is pretty much dying out.

(Note: the people who run Threads work very very hard, and are very committed and work far harder on Threads than I ever have for any of my LARPS. I am not calling them lazy.)

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from: therevdrnye
date: Jan. 4th, 2010 06:15 am (UTC)

"(Note: the people who run Threads work very very hard, and are very committed and work far harder on Threads than I ever have for any of my LARPS. I am not calling them lazy.)"

Nor would any reasonable person think that you were... the savings in time and money represented by re-useable things do not meaningfully offset the amount of energy that has gone into set-up for each Threads event. Even if continuing characters represent some reduction of needed creative energy for the writing staff, the effort to write plot that advances the story for those PCs is no less consuming.

And yes, it appears that TSFL LARPing is going by the way-side, but the question is "Why?" Having arrived late at the party I don't have a participant's-eye view of the time when TSFL events pretty much defined what LARPing was for the mid-Atlantic region, but I know from anecdotal evidence that a lot of people put a lot of effort into creating a great many TSFL LARPs during the 80's and 90's. I'm reasonably certain that the people who created those LARPS haven't died off as a result of a meteor; I know that some of them have GAFIAted, and that some are, in fact, caught up in campaign LARPing.

I also know that people have been attracted to LARPing throughout the last decade; even with my limited LARP experience, I have seen new people show up because like me, either someone convinced them to come see what was going on, or because they heard about it and decided to check it out on their own. Anecdotal evidence available here on LJ also suggests that new people have been joining in - over in the THREADS campaign, for instance. Even if I accept as fact the statement that the older and more experienced LARPers are either out of the production game because their lives have become too complex to permit their participation at that level, or because they have invested their energy into an ongoing campaign LARP, where are the "new" people? Are they so daunted by the expense and the necessary commitment of time, energy and money that they are unwilling to give it a try? Or is it possible that since common wisdom says that TSFL is dying, they assume that it is, and help make it true?

I can understand that there aren't a lot of people who feel up to strapping on a drum, cymbals, a horn and an accordion and leaping into the fray as a One-Man Band. The fact that *you* feel up to it (meaning no disrespect to the people who have helped you with writing, etc.) is a testament to brain damage, or possibly madness :-).
The fact that there don't appear to be any *groups* appearing who are interested in running up that hill is what interests me. I understand that group dynamics make it difficult to get the right balance out of available people to bring about a successful production group. It's also obvious that the very act of creating a TSFL LARP will put a group through a wringer which may cause said group to fall apart afterward, but there don't appear to be any new groups - regardless of who the constituent members are, old-timers or new people.

Economic pressures didn't stop people from leaping into the abyss in the past. Even if economic issues have raised the bar higher than some people feel they can reach, that would seem to leave social changes as the probable cause of the dying off of TSFL LARPs... so I suppose I'm interested in finding out what those changes are, and seeing if some of them are reversible, or if the trend is a permanent one.

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