In a recent discussion on Facebook I posed a question: “What are your suggestions for recruiting new players for a brand new game in a brand new area?” I went on to explain that for the scenario, assume that you don’t have a current player base to draw from (meaning you’re not leaving a larp to start a new one and taking people with you). You’re essentially reaching out to people who have little to no larp experience. I asked this question because Dave and I have decided to start a Seattle Larp and don’t know many larpers here! The answers given came from folks all around the world and are really helpful and insightful. Check out their answers (please add any we’ve forgotten in the comments) and a few summary thoughts at the bottom.
Inform and create curiosity. Ease the participants into the full experience. Take it slow and methodically and you’ll have well informed and invested participators; the best kind to help bring in more people when everything is up and running
- Show & tell: get your game out in front of as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.
- Movie nights featuring NA-larp documentaries
- Walkthrough of a quest (a smaller trial of a larp where they get to try basic stuff out during a few hours)
- Workshops – Create your character, basic roleplaying, making gear, armour, weapons, and so on…
- Free trials – Give people a taste of your game.
It takes effort and time, but it’s well worth it if you want to create invested participants in for a long run.
- Invest some time in building a professional-looking structure – Website, Facebook, Rulebook, presentations that you’re gonna run, a suggested online community that works etc.
- As you have the funds and talent for it, create a well designed presentation. If you can’t build heavy fantasy imagery that looks good – on par with high profile games, movies etc. – look for simplicity, clarity, and minimalism. Good design will help gather people initially.
- Before you’re really sure you don’t have a group to recruit from, check again – if you’re doing one type of larp, others might slip below your radar (have you checked if there’s NERO/Amtgard/Dagorhir/Belegarth/Theatre scene/World of Darkness scene locally?) Recruit from their ranks.
- Find online discussion groups and communities (Facebook, forums, etc) with interest in science fiction, fantasy, medieval culture, reenactment, history, comics, anime, cosplay, horror, goth, role-playing, computer gaming, board games, psychology, sociology, teaching, acting, theatrics, special effects, camping, paintball, airsoft, nanowrimo, etc. and drop a few notes there (you will probably not be successful in all of those – depending on type and genre of your larp).
- Recruit from the friends you have in that area. Ask them to like the Facebook page, share it and link it to someone who might find it interesting.
- Encourage people to share info on Facebook (whether they go to larp or not), and maybe throw a few dollars into the advertising on Facebook.
- Run presentations, panels, demos, workshops and mini-larps on your local and regional scifi/fantasy/anime/comics/role-playing conventions, clubs, stores, etc.
- Drop a few notes on out-of-area larp groups so they know the larp exists. List your larp on Shade’s list and Larping.org
- Involve your new players and treat them well.
- Do all the social media stuff and website planning, sometimes it’s best to just focus on just one or two social networks (where the people are you want to talk to).
- Then, when you have five people, dress up in costumes and go hand out flyers or do something similar to get the public’s attention. Maybe invite the local news paper and write an article. I remember when we started we had a guy out from the local paper and I wrote a monthly article after each scenario with pictures to keep the attention.
- Make postcard-sized flyers and get business cards. Hand them out and put them up. Go where gamers are likely to be and invite them.
- Find gaming focused FB groups and join and be awesome (editor’s note: don’t spam groups, no one likes spam) and invite the group via the events tab.
Brandon M. Burns
- Flyers. Hit your local gaming shop. If there’s a local con, hit that too. Look for a gaming Meet Up group in your area.
Never give up! Recruiting new players is hard work and can be discouraging. There are a million misconceptions about larp, people are busy, and it is a lot of work to get a larp started. There’s just no way around that; you’re going to have to dig deep into your bag of tricks and become a larp evangelist to get people to join your game. Keep at it and never give up! In the end, when you have a larp started and people are showing up to events, that will be reward enough for your hard work. Plus, the people that join will thank you.