Recently back from DEXCON 2014, I have to say that I am exceptionally impressed with the growth that has happened with not only the Double Exposure conventions, but also the quality of the modules ran at DEXCON.
Most conventions I attend I spend my time either running events, signing books, or sitting at the bar chatting away. Many times the modules that happen at conventions are not my cup of tea and I spend most of my time at the bar instead of playing games. The reason is in part due to the fact that it is really hard to make a full immersion environment at a hotel or convention hall, that telling a compelling story in a short period of time is a difficult task for more STs, and I find myself playing or seeing a ton of games that are clones of other peoples work (sometimes to the point where they just lift the mechanics and rename things).
But this convention I was not only surprised by the quality of games, but I was excited for them in a way that I haven't been in a very long time. I could feel the passion and effort that these STs were putting into what they were presenting, and, I felt like the games took great advantage of what spaces they had. Rooms were transformed into cities, hospitals, malt shoppes, and wizard study halls. There were sound effects, sound systems, theater-like projection screens, and costume and props ready to loan to new players.
Staffing teams for these events were no solo person effort either. Entire teams of 5-20 people ran logistics, NPCed, organized plot, monitored player enjoyment, operated puppets, wore kaiju suits, or were ready to throw down with staff and sword in hand. The LARP track had transformed from throwing together a neat plot in a room somewhere to making truly livable and enveloping experiences that ranged from deeply emotional prison scenes to crying in joy once Seattle was saved. Seeing players WANT to continue role-playing after modules were done, seeing people investing into both their character and the hobby, invigorated me and drives me. We must do more, make better, build bigger, make more emotional connections, and tell better stories.
LARP is changing. I can taste it. When I started running LARPs 18 years ago we were happy to get a park, or a friends basement, and where our little white index cards that described all the things that we couldn't physically provide. Now we have enough of an audience and a fandom that not only can we do those personal pick up games, but we can fund massive interactive events that are on scale with movie sets.