Last week we talked some about how to be a cool guy when you stop playing a game. If you missed it, you can find it here: Do Not Like pt 1. I felt it only fair that we also talk about the other side. This is, I suspect, more relevant in the US with our fondness for campaign larps. But campaigns are not exclusive to the States and I imagine that there is some translation to other formats as well. So, take this as is appropriate for what you do. Or don’t. As you wish.
Some thoughts and unasked for advice on how to be a good game runner when a player leaves. This is a little wider reaching though, so let’s start at the beginning.
People who attend your events are not “your” players. You don’t own them, they are not spiritually linked to your game nor do they have an obligation to continue to attend your events. If they choose to go to another game and you are mad about it, you might have lost sight of your games place in the world.
I have, over the years, seen many people stop playing Dystopia Rising. For an array of reasons, both related to the game and not. To dial it down to a local level, I remain fond of many of them. I don’t see a lot of them regularly, but that’s more because of my introverted and somewhat hermit like tendencies. I actively follow many of them on Facebook, enjoy seeing what they do and casually comment and chat as one does. Some of them occasionally come to an event, some don’t. My fondness of them is not predicated on whether they’re giving me money. The only time it’s weird is when I see someone and they feel the need to profess to me how they “keep meaning to make it back to an event” or “they’d love to come to game but…”. I’m sure sometimes it’s genuine, but it’s always awkward. I have yet to find a way to say, “I don’t care, live your life.” without sounding like I’m being rude.
Think of it this way. You probably don’t play the same game you did when you were a teenager. Why would you expect someone else to? Be happy when someone comes to an event and give them a high five when they realize they would rather do something else. They’ll be happier, you won’t have an emotional drain at your events, some other game will have an excited, enthusiastic player. Everyone wins.
A little secret to go along with this: If someone leaves your game and they’re not treated like shit for it, you win twice. When they leave with positive feelings, they are less likely to associate your game with a bunch of assholes and down the line, if they feel so inclined, maybe they’ll come back. If they do, they’ll be excited and hopefully reinvigorated in their enjoyment of the game. This is aside from the karmic benefit of not being an asshole to someone for no reason and having avoided putting more negativity into a world that doesn't need the help.
But, you exclaim, if people leave my game then I won’t have enough players! There are only so many larpers!
My dear child. There are over 323 million people in the US. If .5% of the population was interested in larping that would be just over 1.5 million players. The idea that we will run out of people to play pretend with us is downright absurd. Given how sequestered and behind closed doors larp has traditionally been we should all, players and runners alike, spend our time sharing the hobby with the world. It’s why you shouldn’t recruit from other larps, but that’s another post altogether.
But, you exclaim again, it’s not cool when another game poaches my players!
You’re right. It isn’t cool. But you talking shit about the other game is not going to convince players to come back. It’s going to make them think your game is full of petty children. And let’s be honest with ourselves. You cannot steal a human unless you’re into trafficking and slavery. Maybe that other game sounds like fun, maybe their friends are playing or maybe they just want to try something new. No matter the reason, let it go. Every minute you spend being mad is a minute you’re not spending on the players who are actually attending.
Run a fun game, make it what you want to see in the larp world, and the players who want the same thing will come and stay. You won’t keep everyone, nor should you try to. Some people like mild, some like medium, some like hot. Be happy they’re eating salsa and enjoy your style with those who agree.
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