Hello. My name is Catie, and I’m a game runner.
Today, I want to talk a bit about game runners in general. Specifically, I want to talk about the emotional, physical, and mental investment that game runners put into their games.
Most game runners (not all—because I hate blanket statements and there’s always the exception) want their players to have a good time. They create something that they’re often proud of, and they do their best to make sure that those who attend their games enjoy themselves. Because of this, many game runners establish a feedback form so people can write in, say what they’d like to see changed, and they can change it.
As a game runner of Dystopia Rising, American Excess, and others, I personally put hours and hours of my time per week creating the best experience I can. I answer emails, work with players if they have plot requests, make props (yes, I make props for my own games), plan social events with players, work with writers for the games that I run, and write myself. These are all things I do in between games to make sure the event itself runs smoothly. For Dystopia Rising alone, I create a packet that’s about 50 pages long each month for writing plot.
As you can imagine, this is a lot of physical and mental investment into a world that I deeply care about (I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t care about it). Other game runners do the same, depending on the size and scope of their game (they wouldn’t be doing it, either, if they didn’t care about it).
During the event itself, a lot of emotional, physical, and mental investment go into it. I stay up late to make sure things are running smoothly. I physically run into the field if there’s no one else to do that job, and I remain RELENTLESSLY POSITIVE during an event—at least outwardly. This is likely why you often see game runners slouched to one side after an event, looking tired but happy that they made something cool.
Now imagine that you put in all this work, all this time, and you come home to find someone among your friend group actively talking on social media about how they hated the event (or not even hated—but what they disliked), and what they would like to see changed. This is after you’re tired and (for a few, very brief hours) were happy about the event. This is after you put up a feedback form and after you worked to create something you’re proud of. I will tell you from personal experience that the mood you cultivated for yourself slips into a post-game drop like none other.
We talk a lot about safety in LARPs. We talk about establishing rules and regulations to help players. But what about the game runners?
Why are game runners not even treated as people? They’re talked about in terms of their games. They’re painted in the light of what they run. If someone has a bad experience (even if it’s due to conflict between players and not due to anything the game runner does), then the game runner is perceived as “the worst.”
Where do game runners fit in? And why are they looked at as non-people? Why is it that I find some of my fellow game-runners near tears or angry (always privately—because game runners aren’t allowed to have feelings publicly) after an event?
Where is the safety for them?
And why is it that players don’t use the feedback form that’s given to them, and instead talk about game runners as if they’re non-people and don’t matter on social media?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. But maybe next time you’re about to criticize a game right after an event (or even just in general), you’ll consider your words a bit more, and instead fill out a feedback form to send in.