Monday, April 11, 2011

The people behind the larp

There is never a larp without the (mostly few) crazy people willing to spend A LOT of their SPARE TIME to organise an event. They spend days, weeks, even months thinking of a good scenario, creating props, writing character roles, decorate the site, manage the event and afterwards cleanup the site.

When an event is good these people are happy and know that all their hard work meant something. But beware if the event is not as good as they hoped or even if it was right out bad. Then these people ask why they put in all the effort if the feedback afterwards is: "the event sucked", "I won't be back", ...

I've been running events for more than 10 years and I've had those moments. When I said 'this is it, I'm stopping', but each time I came around and continued on.

I remember Manticore 12, for me one of the worst as a projectleader, I told myself on the last day of the event that I would quit because I was breaking down (body and soul). But during the cleanup of the site people came up and told me that they loved the event. Suddenly all my reasons to stop were gone, as all the work did mean something!
Manticore 14, it's Sunday 22.30, everybody has already left. I'm cleaning up the mud in the corridors of the building we rented. After 15mins it's still not very clean. I remember thinking "This time it's for real! I will stop and spend the time thus saved on other stuff". Well, that never happened, along came Manticore 15 with me still in charge.

Now why am I all saying this? Well, last weekend we had Manticore 19, the pen-ultimate event before our grand finale of the current storyline. And while I'm not giving up (I plan to at least start the new storyline) I had mixed feelings of this one. My main storywriter is stepping down and I'm not blaming him.
The event received mixed reactions (people are saying that it was great, but those same people also say that is was "so so"), but in the end it was not the event that failed, it was I who failed as the project lead.

I saw from miles away that things in the team were not 100%, but I decided not to intervene, as these problems have always been present and they always solved themselves without my intervention.
But this time it was different and I didn't intervene at the right moment. My main concern with intervening is that the team consists out of volunteers who are also my friends. I find it personally difficult to criticise them if they do something wrong. I don't want to loose them as a teammember and certainly not as a friend. But my hesitation to intervene has cost me one team-member that I did not want to loose before the grand finale. Oh, he'll still be around and has promised to help out and such, but he won't take the lead in the storywriting anymore.
In order to keep the rest of the team going, to deliver at least an awesome finale, I'll have a talk with them in order to smooth things out and to lay down some rules. This to make sure that noone oversteps their function within the team.

Larping is fun, organising a larp can also fun, but like Mark Horstman (of Manager Tools) always says: from the moment you put two people in the same county you have a conflict. I just need that conflict to lead to great results :-)

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