In the recent years, we have witnessed a definitive growth of the larp community and a growth in recognition of larp in wider culture as a legitimised activity. As larp begins to be more present in society, the wider culture also penetrates the social structures of larp as a community and an activity, one of the central outcomes of which is the commodification of larp. In this talk, I discuss how larp is becoming commodified, what that means, and what the repercussions of this development are for specific events as well as the community at large.
Q&A from the original viewing at Solmukohta 2020 Online event
Anon1 Can’t we also say that professionalization of larp practices makes it harder for new organizers to step in?
Anon2 Probably very much this! Ironically probably lessening the available larps and making the ones acessible even more scares 😮
Usva Seregina: yep, definitely agree with you on this
Anon3 also socioeconomic class starts playing even a bigger role within professionalized
Usva Seregina yes! exactly!! i talk about this a bit later :
Anon4 It’s interesting how that does not affect at all TTRPG? Or does it? Being much more “intimate” people just dare to play whatever, or what is it?
Anon5 I feel TTRPGs are commodified in different terms? the commodity is the physical product, the miniatures, the swag?
Anon6 There are professional DMs in a TTRPG context. Fewer, though, because the profit structure is tough
Usva Seregina: I’m not very familiar with TTRPG unfortunately, but I would agree with Sanna that there are potentially other ways it emerges?
Anon3 I feel the Nordic NGO organizational culture, based on a lot of grassroots volunteer work, is a model of organizing that has traditionally resisted commodification with some success
Anon3 Question: what models of engagement and organization do we have that are not based on consumption? Art, kinda maybe? Are there ways for larp to be legible and credible without being commodified?
Anon7 Isn’t a lot of art (mainstream theatre, movies, books, etc) quite commodified?
Anon5 Different kinds of community based practices that are mostly present in anarchist circles etc?
Anon8 Art outside the “established art world”
Usva Seregina: I have no direct answer to this, but my main aim was to ask this question 😀 For me, I think it is mainly in the form that we continue to be reflexive about how we do things, continue to include and engage people, and do not fall into normative consumption-based patterns.
Anon9 I’m surprised not to have heard the word ” Disney” yet (unless i missed it) The new star wars attraction essentially is a commercial commoditized LARP.
Anon10 Not just essentially, actually. We’ve seen Disney Imageneers on VP levels and up at Nordic events for years. And a bunch of us have worked or interacted with them in different ways. Sometimes, I now believe, rather naively,
Usva Seregina: I steered away from examples intentionally in the talk, but I do mention Disney in the paper that I wrote for Nordic Larp 😀
Anon11 As a view from the Balkans, LARPS never really get the chance to cover their costs, and even rarer can afford to pay the organizers anything that comes close to the time, experience and effort they placed in the table.
Really interesting subject but just keep in mind that there are areas that just don’t have the base to run any actual pay-to-enter serious larp, and thus work as a balancing factor with community models and free games/for some volunteer work.
Usva Seregina: Absolutely, I think this a very contextual issue. Costs are very different in different parts of the world.
To reiterate from the talk, I don’t think that money is the biggest issue here, but rather how we approach larp.
Anon13 Have we ever see artificial scarcity in larp?
Usva Seregina: Artificial scarcity easily comes with hype and marketing
Anon14 This is a hard one. We need to have more people making larps, and if the new people come in through the big easily approachable blockbuster larps, then it is very hard to tell them that they, too, can make a larp from scratch.
We need more coverage and appreciaton inside our scene of small larps, unprofessional larps, larps that invent the wheel again, larps that anyone could make. This is not easy, as I recognize the tendency to look down on those because I’ve been through that myself a long time ago. And also, because I am ambitious with this art form.
There are no easy answers.
Usva Seregina: That’s true that the larp scene has mainly operated on a sort of word-of-mouth type of communication before. And I do agree that this has major issues in terms of being able to get into larp (which I also remember experiencing when I first started larping). And hence commodification and marketing are actually extremely good for allowing larp to be more accessible.
Perhaps it is about thinking how to communicate without falling into the traps of marketing?
And I agree with NAME that looking into and appreciating different forms larping is extremely important. We need to make room for all levels of skill and engagement.