LARP advertisement: the serpent that wants to consume itself.

Most of us have been there at one point or another.

You go to your favorite LARP, your LARP forum, your LARP group, and there in the middle of your preferred form of entertainment is an anomaly.  A strange form of communication that initially feels like it belongs here, but, somehow feels completely wrong at the same time.  After reading it over a few times you see that someone has advertised for a different gaming group in your gaming groups communication boards. 

 Hey buddy... wanna buy a LARP?  

Hey buddy... wanna buy a LARP?  

Or maybe it wasn't a written ad.  Maybe you were at a game and enjoying your role-play when a staffer or volunteer from another game says,"Hey, if you liked this game than you would LOVE this other game."  The interaction feels a little off.  Now this isn't scream and run away looking for an adult sort of feeling off, but it isn't right.  It sort of feels the same as when you see the ad for one chain restaurant on the TV that is hanging in a different chain restaurant you are eating at. 

If you are the person that advertises your game at another game, do the entire community a favor and just stop it.  Good campaign style game organizers and volunteers do not target their efforts to pull players from an existing game communities. I'll explain why in a little bit with a fantastic cinema analogy.    

Here is the deal.  Good LARP organizers look to advertise their events.  This primarily applies to events that are open to the public, but even some private 'closed doors' groups fall into this description.  These groups need people to attend the events to sustain itself, otherwise the group loses steam and fades.  Good LARP organizers try to advertise their game to an audience in a way where they can not only advertise to existing LARPers but also people who haven't LARPed before.  These hard working promoters present materials at conventions, work social networks, and even pay for advertisements.  Sometimes local social events are hosted that involves renting locations, and resources are expended to make turnout happen.  This sort of advertisement takes effort.  This sort of advertisement takes money.  This sort of advertisement not only brings new people into the hobby, but also presents their materials to the existing community.  This is the right way to advertise.

Advertisement for an event takes effort.  So it should not be surprising that some people want the easy way and advertise their events piggy-backed on the efforts of someone else.  When a game takes the approach of targeting existing members in a community, the effect ends up being that organization 'B' attempts to capitalize on the work of organization 'A' by trying to snipe players.

 If you don't know this face, you need to revisit some of your life choices...

If you don't know this face, you need to revisit some of your life choices...

It reminds my of old martial arts films (warning, analogy inbound).  If you are a fan of martial arts films, you know the scene I am about to describe.  If your not a fan, you don't know what you are missing and you should really rectify this oversight in your life.  What happens in these films is the head of dojo 'A' walks into dojo 'B' and challenges the master of dojo 'B' to a fight.  The two fight in an epic sort of way that involves balancing on chairs, tables, running up columns, and changing martial art forms at least three times.  One of the two secretly knows drunken monkey, or hidden snake, or a crane over the mountain technique that the other combatant didn't know... and the story continues.  The winning master gets the students, the losing master leaves in shame, and there are a few students that sadly watch the old master go.

The defeated master then goes to an obscure village to train.  They do inverted pull ups with weights, strange flexibility training, practice moves that seem like they have nothing to do with fighting, and then after a solid life-lesson montage return to earn back their dojo and earn back their students.

What you don't see, when all of the students from the defeated masters dojo run over to the victorious masters dojo, is that the martial arts community as a whole DIDN'T GET ANY NEW STUDENTS.  The students just flowed from one teacher to another, and that's it.  I'm even willing to bet that some of the students, tired of the bullshit of picking up broken benches and seeing high speed dumplings fired across a room, leave martial arts forever.

However, if those two masters instead spent some time in their community working with those who don't know anything about martial arts, you then end up with an entire factory of workers who didn't know anything breaking out into super sweet combat sequences.

So the convoluted moral to this post grasshoppers, is that if you advertise your event the right way you will build a community of your own and everyone prospers.  If you instead choose to advertise the wrong way, people just move from space to space and eventually some other dojo master will come and challenge you.

And here is a hint from a drunken martial arts master out in the hidden village.  Eventually, many players stop being LARPers.  Some go away to college, or move out of the area, or lose interest in the hobby, or have responsibilities like kids or work that prevent them from playing.  Eventually, some players will stop participating, and if the new player to leaving player ratio is not in our favor...then the entire community suffers.