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Making Your Live Action Role-Playing Game Accessible: Part 3 of 3

19 November 2010 by

In the first and second parts of this series, I wrote about how to make your game easy to play, and how to keep players involved. In this third part, I’m going to talk about why people stop playing.

There are plenty of reasons beyond your control why a player may not come back to your game. Real life always takes priority. People have family, jobs, other friends. There may be interpersonal issues at your game, breakups, in-fighting, things that happen in any group. This is ordinary attrition, you can’t plan for it or prevent it. What you can do is create an environment that’s safe, secure and fun for your players,
and minimize the frustrations that convince players your game isn’t worthwhile. How can you do this?

Minimize arguments about the rules! If you read part one of the series, you know that you need to make the rules available to your players before the game even begins. If you minimize confusion, there will be fewer dramatic fights about how in-game skills work.

The game’s staff should have multiple copies of the most recent edition of the rules, including whatever errata or playtest information is applicable. Make sure every document is from the most recent edition. Keep a copy in the player area as well. Fighting about the rules is one of the best ways to bring out the little kid in all of us — we’ll want to take our ball and go home.

Safe combat. I’m a non-violent squishy sort of person who sometimes finds myself in combat situations at LARPs. I feel comfortable playing because most of the time I’m sure I won’t come home with massive bruises or broken glasses. Many boffer LARPs have rules against hitting in the head, neck and groin, and rules against swinging hard.

I won’t stay at a game where the combat’s unsafe. Some players don’t mind hard combat, but if you’re looking to attract a diverse player base, combat controlling rules are important.

Minimize cheating. Discretely talk to players if they’re ignoring their hits or misusing their skills. Keep it friendly and non-dramatic — most of the time cheating isn’t cheating, but a misunderstanding.

Last, and most importantly: create anti-harassment and bullying policies. Treat your players with respect and make sure your game is one where players can come forward if they feel uncomfortable. Many games have a “no touch” policy, but the policies have to be maintained and enforced if you want to keep your players feeling secure.

These tips are absolutely vital if you’re looking to run an ongoing game. Smooth out misunderstandings with easy access to the rules, make sure everyone is on the same page about the rules, keep combat safe, and maintain a harassment-free environment. And remember, have fun!



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