Something that comes up every now and then is the idea that there should be some degree of work, process, project, or design that the National team of Dystopia Rising should do on behalf of the Directors of all of the DR Network Chapters. The suggestion of National taking on more has come up a few times, in particular when it comes to direct player resources, without much of a consideration of what is being asked. Some examples, just to make sure we are all on the same page about the subject matter at hand, include things such as having a national team that all players can field questions to, running logs of any rules clarifications given to Directors published to a single location, updates of all actions and direction that the Dystopia Rising LARP network is doing, and outlines of a more in depth character database that allows real time use like an app. Why didn't National put up full disclosure of all the steps, offer a single public document that is updated, or take system and mechanics questions in a single easy to access spot for players.
I would love most of these things as well.
The issue is that for as much as people have been arguing over “it’s a community” or “it’s a business” there is truth that exists between the two. It is a business where local game companies franchise the tools and materials required to create their own local game communities to provide a product and service while improving gaming culture overall.
What does that mean?
It means that the lion’s share of the money that players pay to a game, stays at that local game instead of being handed up to National. It also means that costs for 3 day events need to be kept lower as to allow the growth and ongoing development of a community (unlike single shot LARPs which don’t create as much of a networked culture).
As a general idea, the average person pays around $60 for a 3 day DR event. Of that $60 per person, $55.80 stays in the local games funds to handle local taxes, costs, and expenses. $3 goes to national and $1.20 goes towards a marketing and advertising budget which handles online presence and advertisements. That $3 that goes to national handles all our national level taxes, federal fees, lawyers, accountants, and development costs as well as pays the payroll for your 3 national team members.
The funds that get put towards payroll are less than $1 per person per event attended.
This is where the business aspect comes up. As much as we are a community and as much as the general goal is to try and make everyone’s life a bit better, we have a restricted budget at National and a limitation to the number of manpower hours that 3 people are capable of putting into the DR LARP network. For us to continue to add more resources, we need to hire more people. Currently 3 people oversee the development, production, creation, training, support, and even tech needs for all of the Directors who in turn run games. We work about 80+ hours a week (it’s hard to say because we really don’t ever STOP working).
And part of the issue is a strange sort of parallel of the argument between “Federal Focus” or “State Focus” governments. If you want the larger group to handle more of the things that engage everyone’s individual lives, we need to find a way to provide more income to pay and support the support net that is needed. Otherwise we need to rely on more of a Director (state) driven policy where the individual businesses that run their local games take the responsibility to communicate, interact with, govern, direct, and see to the needs of their local chapter’s base.
Understand that when we say, “You need to talk to your Director” it’s not passing the buck. Your Director is the person who is responsible for engaging your local community, for providing local oversight, and for ensuring that your player needs are taken care of. Your Director has a game of 100-600 players and is responsible for ensuring the health, safety, and success of their local game. They have the ability to host rule update blogs. They have access to the source material producers. They have funds to ensure local level resources are taken care of. They handle 100-600 players instead of handling all of the source resource production, all the Director needs, and then helping oversee 7,000+ people.
“But my Directors are just so busy… I don’t want to bother them.”
I promise you that they aren’t as busy as us.