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33. If you went to my larp and didn’t like it, here’s what I’d like you to do

I’ve been organising larps since 1995. Some have been smash hits, some a bit disastrous. At no larp has every participant been happy with their experience (Motherland from 2008 might be the exception to that, but even there, I’m not sure), and at no larp has everyone been dissatisfied. Sometimes, the same element of the larp (whether it’s character writing, location choice, food options or structural design) has caused some players to complain, while other players loved it to death. This is how larp is. It’s damn hard to please everyone, and it’s also hard to please no-one.

This text is written for those who’ve had a bad experience at a larp. It’s written by me, and is how I’d like things to be. Other organisers may feel very differently about it. If you’re an organiser and happen to agree with some of my ideas, you’re more than welcome to share this. If you think I’m full of shit and know nothing (Jon Snow optional), that’s also ok.

And with the intro out of the way, here are some things I’d like you to do if you went to a larp of mine and didn’t like the experience you have. To be honest, it’s more of a list of things I’d like you NOT to do, and then a short comment on what I’d actually like. :-)

So what should you actually do? If you have criticism, write it down and send it to me. Preferably in a structured, well-argued and polite fashion. That makes it more likely to be listened to and acted upon, compared to if you write “You suxxxor!”

When I write to larp organisers after larps, I usually divide my comments into three categories

  1. Things I liked
  2. Things I think were objectively problematic
  3. Things I personally didn’t like, but which are choices

There isn’t an organiser alive who doesn’t want to hear about the stuff you enjoyed. And after you’ve been nice (hopefully you did like some stuff!), you can give them the sour parts. The reason I divide it into #2 and #3 is that there’s usually a little of the former and a lot of the latter. That I didn’t get any food before the workshops because I got bad information by a workshop leader is objectively problematic, and should be fixed if possible. That I didn’t like the ending of the larp is an opinion I have.

It’s also good exercise in feedback; learning to differentiate between personal preferences and general problems is a useful skill for all of us. And of course it’s not an exact science, but practice helps!

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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