The term organizer burnout is once again making the rounds. In essence, it means that the demands on the people who organize larps, often in their free time as a hobby project, are so high that people are burning out and are being discouraged from organizing again. To prevent this, I have put together a handy list on how players can take care of their organizers and help to prevent burnout. This list doesn’t apply to all larps and organizers, but it can hopefully apply to several situations.
Before the Larp
- When signing up for a larp, read through the information available. If you already know that there will be design decisions and policies you do not agree with, it doesn’t give you the right to criticize them after the fact and try to change the organizer’s mind about them. Often, an organizer has a reason for making a decision. You can inquire about the reason, but the organizer is not under any obligation to defend them-self to you. If the policy or decision really irks you, consider if you really want to attend this larp, or if you want to attend your own version of this larp. Respect that the organizer has their own vision for this larp.
- Leading up to the larp, use the official channels that the organizers of the larp have asked you to use. If they have asked you to email questions, don’t write to them through social media channels or personal messages. Respect that some people need to compartmentalize information and that they don’t always have to be available.
- Read the information provided before asking questions, especially in the days leading up to the larp. If you struggle with finding information because it is spread out in different places, then you can point this out to the organizers in a nice, unpressurring way. This for example could be asking for a document with links or a thread that collects all information.
- If you stumble upon things you really like that the organizer is responsible for, tell them. Make them feel valued.
- Preparing for the larp, check the packing list and bring the things listed on it. Make sure that you bring snacks if you know you will need additional food. Read all the information once more.
- Consider bringing a present for your organizer if you know them well, like candy or their favorite drink. Otherwise bring hugs, but remember to ask if they want to be hugged first.
During the Larp / Workshops
- Be on time.
- Don’t hog the organizer’s time. Remember, there are a thousand things to do just before a larp starts. Always give the organizer a way out of a situation and respect that they have things to do, even if you want to hang out with them.
- If you arrive at the event before the specified time, ask if you can help with anything and try to be mindful not to be in the way. The organizer has no obligation to keep you company if you’ve chosen to arrive before the set time.
- During the workshops, refrain from making jokes to lighten up the mood. If the organizer asks you to pose questions at the end of a segment instead of when you think of them, write down any questions and do that, instead of thinking that asking your question can’t hurt the flow or timing of the workshop.
- Don’t hog the organizer’s time during breaks or in workshops. They have a million things to do. If it is a dear friend, consider saying that you are there and ready to hang out and support them, but only if that’s what they want. Anything other than an enthusiastic yes is a no.
- Don’t ask the organizer for special privileges just because they’re your friend (unless they are for health and safety reasons).
- Listen during the workshops to understand what function the organizer will have during the game. If they say you can larp with them (for example if they have an NPC function), then you can, but remember to always give them an opportunity to opt out. If they are present only in an off-game capacity, then respect that.
After the Larp
- After the game, thank the organizer either at the larp or afterwards online. Give them appreciation and tell them about things you enjoyed that they were responsible for.
- Allow the organizers some time to recover before providing negative comments about the larp. If you want to rant about the game in a way that includes criticism of some sort, check to see if the organizer is nearby. If they are, don’t do it. For an organizer, that sort of criticism is not what they need to hear in that moment. Your criticism during the larp may make it difficult for them to perform their other tasks effectively.
- Check in with the organizer after the game, repeat positive things, and wait for them to ask about constructive criticism before giving it. Some organizers request a Week of Stories, in which players should only share their positive stories from the event for the first week after the larp before issuing criticisms. Respect that wish.
- If there is a feedback form, fill it in. When filling in longer comments, remember to nuance your answers. Often organizers will clump together the data and the comments separately, which means that even if your data reflects that you have had a good larp, your comments may make it seem like a bad experience.
- Remember, you might not have all the information about a design decision. Even if something seems objectively bad to you, there might be reasons for it. Try not to word things as absolutes, but as things you perceived as flaws. Sometimes your own expectations or other outside influences are the reasons you haven’t had a good game. Sometimes it’s the design. Rarely is it because the organizer is a horrible human being.
- If you don’t organize on a regular basis, or if you have never organized a larp like the one you attended, have some humility. Remember that this is a person that has put themselves out there in trying to create something. Be nice.
This is a living document that may be updated to include more tips. I don’t claim to have thought of everything, or that my tips work for everyone, but this is, in my opinion, a baseline with which to start. If you want to add something, including rewording, nuancing, or disagreeing, feel free to use the comment section and expand upon your suggestion.
Cover photo: Pixabay
Edited by: Elina Gouliou