Reaching out, the wizard king sung a spell with words never chanted before. He held out his hand and beckoned for his enemies very heart to leave the sanctuary of its body. The spell landed, shivered down through the body, and whether through lack of will or inexperience, then flew back at the King. His body fell lifeless. His own heart no longer beating.
– The final moments of Gu’illas, King of the Airdale Elves
While we all might not be able to relate to being a wizard king, a portion of this is some proven science – for something to live, the heart must beat. To any successful game, like Dragon Thrones, people are that very heart beat. Each passionate person a strong rhythmic thump that courses fresh life through the very veins of the game.
I recently posed a question where I asked people what made them feel the most welcome at a game, and their responses reinforced what I already believed to be true. In all responses, people played a critical role:
- Games that had people who were welcoming to first time players won the prize for instances mentioned. In fact, several people were mentioned by name, and it set off a string of compliments (which isn’t something you see on the internet everyday).
- LARPs that had new player groups or committees are super advantageous. These make approaching a new world less anxious, more appealing, and accessible to people who have never played before. Solar Cerroneth and Dragon Thrones were specifically named.
- Accepting and embracing those with disabilities, partnering to overcome social anxieties, and having players who are not stand offish or alienating, were also listed as core welcoming factors.
- Staff that are approachable and openly communicative were also identified as being a strong point.
LARPed is created on the basis that friends game with friends. And the more we look into the world of how games are created and run, here are three best practices that we’ve seen out there:
- Build games that allow people to create close bonds with others naturally. Whether you’re cast into an order of Wizards at New World Magischola’s Imperial or part of the Engineering Corps at the Outbound Hope Mission, having a group of people to rely on is critical in making sure new players have safety nets of social interaction to fall back on.
- Have staff that is conscious of how players are feeling and that checks in on new players. I’ve personally experienced this multiple times, and it’s part of what keeps me going back to select games. Because I understand that the staff cares and values me as an individual player.
- Put your community first, and the game second. This might be the most arguable point of this entire post, but in this author’s opinion, LARPs are created for people to play them. If people don’t have a good time with them, then what else matters? I’ve attended great games with poor people, and poor games with great people, and in the end it’s the company of whom I am with that determines how I view my experiences at the game.