4. A response to Piotr Smolanski

Hi Piotr

Thanks for the post. We disagree on some basic facts, but that’s not really surprising. After all, I have access to a lot more info on College of Wizardry than you do. I’d written a response, but I managed to delete it somehow, so this is my second try. ;-)

On your comments:

  1. I’m glad to hear you say it wasn’t as bad as I’d understood it. It seemed to be more than a few angry voices, but of course it’s easy to see criticism as bigger than it is, when you’re on the receiving end.
  2. I think you’re confusing CoW1 with CoW3 here. It was at CoW3 where we had the “first past the gate” problem, and ticket server crashes. CoW1 took two days to sell out. Granted, that isn’t much, but it’s more than enough to offset language issues on the signup page. We managed to get both quite a few American and Finnish players who had as much language difficulty as the Poles, at least. Ironically, it took us until CoW4 to fix the default language thing. Sometimes small problems persist! On the lack of advance warning, that’s true enough. When we launched the web page, we thought we might (might!) be able to get the 100 players we were aiming for in six months. Imagine our surprise when we got 138 (+ the waiting list) in 48 hours. That was a bit of a shock. The part about Polish larpers complaining about the price was quite real, though. We didn’t have any Poles contacting us and saying “I really wanted to go, but tickets were sold out.”, but we had quite a few calling us devils for organising something that was too expensive for Polish larpers. ;-)
  3. I haven’t heard the term “Colonial larp” before, but it sounds interesting (if slightly negatively connotated). What you’re saying about Polish players being only fit for Janitor roles is patently untrue, though. I just checked our player databases and found that we’ve had 45 Polish players so far. Of these, six have played Staff members (five Professors and one Librarian) and four have played Prefects. No Polish Janitors yet, by the way. The castle could use some help with its plumbing, I agree, but I’d prefer that help come from actual plumbers! For CoW3 (which you seem to be referring to as if it was representative of all eight CoWs), I did handpick most of the teachers. Due to our crazy media coverage, we had opened the floodgates to vast numbers of interested non-larpers, and were a bit afraid that we’d end up with 20 players from Taiwan with no concept of larp at all. So to balance that fear out, we handpicked Professors and Prefects. Since CoW3, we’ve trusted our design a bit more, and have cast plenty of people we didn’t know as both Prefects and Professors with excellent results. Whether we should have done that from the beginning is open for debate, but this idea of Poles not being welcome as Staff members is luckily based on misinformation.

In general, I think it’s fascinating to be part of this pioneer period in international larp. In 5–10 years, I’m sure people will look at what we did and say “How could they make those mistakes?”, just like it’s hard for me not to look at some of the stuff we did in the 90’s and roll my eyes.

I still don’t know what Colonial larp is, but I’m always up for learning, and I like that you used the word kerfuffle. That gives points in my book!

Last, but not least. When it comes to learning stuff from historical reenactment/reconstruction, I’d say we’re more likely 50 or 100 years behind rather than 20. But that doesn’t change the fact that Lars started his archery career because of larping, not because he was a reenactor.

One good thing luckily doesn’t invalidate another!

Thanks for reading and for taking the time to write.

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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