Imagine the classic cinema. It has a lobby, and some sort of ticket office. It has a cafeteria/kiosk of some kind. It has toilets and it had offices, equipment rooms and all the stuff moviegoers don’t get to see. But most importantly, it has big rooms with rows of seats, and huge film screens. Some cinemas have just one such room. Some have twenty or more.
What if those rooms didn’t contain a screen and chairs? What if they were sets instead? Not film sets. Larp sets. Complete, contained locations that larps could be run in. Think about that for a moment. You go to room 4, and when you enter the door you enter a submarine. It looks like a real submarine. It feels like one. But it doesn’t lie in a drydock somewhere. No, it’s inside the cinema.
Closed setting larps are the key
Not all larps work well in (relatively) small, contained settings. But many do. Panopticrop (2003, 2013) plays out in an office space. The 2013 version could easily have fit inside the space of a medium-size cinema hall. KAPO (2011) took place inside an 800 m2 warehouse space. I’ve never played a larp on an airplane, but I’m pretty sure it’s easier and cheaper building an airplane interior in a cinema hall than it is to rent an actual plane. Not to mention the tedious stuff of trained pilots, airport fees, security, etc. And if you want to do something exotic, like a WW2 bomber, it’s near impossible.
And what about more classic settings? Reconstructing three Czocha classrooms from College of Wizardry is not outside the scope of the space, and that would be pretty cool. Or how about a fantasy style tavern? Building things is expensive, sure, but is it impossible?
I say it isn’t.
Larp cinema, here we go
I say that the larp cinema is something that will happen. It’s just a matter of time. I haven’t done the math yet, but it’s not too hard.
- Find investors. Unless you’re rich, of course!
- Rent a space (a large warehouse near an airport would be my preference)
- Build a few “larp sets”. Don’t overdo it to begin with. Make it cool, but don’t go crazy on details.
- Design larps to fit those spaces.
- Make people come to those larps.
- Iterate. Redesign. Improve. Both the larps and physical spaces.
- Rinse. Repeat. Expand. Build more sets.
- Create more larps using the same sets. Milk them for all you can, and then destroy them and use the space for something else.
- Pop the champagne or end in debt prison, depending on how it goes.
- Sulk, as someone with real money steps in, and copies your idea with 100 times the budget. And then, rejoice, knowing you made this happen.
It sounds simple, but that’s because it actually is. The question is whether it can be made to work financially.
I believe it can.
Maybe not today.
But there are many tomorrows yet to come. And who knows what partners may be waiting in the shadows, who can help make this happen?
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