“We haven’t set the minimum standards for the game yet, we’re still working on that, in common with many other elements of the game.
As a hobby we’ve spent years trying to improve the immersion value of the weapons, moving from gaffa to latex, better techniques and developing an industry of professionals to make them – all to try and get them as close in appearance to actual weapons as possible.
Why would we do all that if deep down we didn’t feel it made the game better? Why do people spend money on weapons, costume, armour, masks, props? We could just pretend to be orcs with a dab of green snazz on our nose, we could use karrimat in gaffa for armour and make costume from a curtain with a whole in the top for our head. We don’t do these things because they damage the immersion of the game – no matter how good our imaginations.
Everyone has a different tolerance level for these things. Some LRPers don’t care about immersion all that much, some do. Most of us find some elements irritate more than others. I hate cigarettes, I can just never see them as IC, but that’s partly because I hate them in real life. But every non-setting appropriate element damages my immersion to some degree.
Some of the damage is not fixable. I’m not playing in a LRP game with real steel swords and real steel sword injuries, thank you very much. That’s a bit of authenticity too far for me personally. Effectively there are times when authenticity collides with safety – or with personal comfort or practicality. Authentic shoes good – modern waterproof socks – also good. My immersion is usually not improved by feeling cold and wet and miserable.
Likewise there are trade-offs around the best way to improve immersion. We have to eat, so a butane gas cylinder is an effective practical way to cook at an event. Of course it could be replaced with a beautiful aufentik 12th century cooking gas-burner or whatever, but that costs time and money. Should the time and money be spent on that – or is better spent on costume, props for the camp, better IC shoes?
Different people will put the trade-offs in different places, different people will put in different amounts of effort, because they care more or less and have more or less time, money and skills, as well as having a different judgement on what bits are important.
To me the point is that we can all do better with reducing the impact of immersion breaking items in the game. PD are trying to put emphasis on immersion in our games, so we’re encouraging all our players to agree to do what they can to get the best costume and props they can and to minimize the visibility of immersion-breaking items where they can. A butane cylinder to cook on is fine – but keep it out of sight as best you can, don’t put it in the centre of a beautiful IC camp. A cool box is a sensible way to store your food at a warm event – can you cover it with a blanket?
A great LRP event is a combination of ambition – and practicality. We all strive to produce the very best event we can, but that ambition should be tempered by what is realistic to achieve so that we can apportion our efforts wisely to get the best overall effect for everyone.
But it’s wise to avoid confusing “This is easy for me to do” with “This is easy for everyone to do”. The answer is always easy when you know it, but what is challenging for some may be easier for others. Saying “this is easier than it looks, here are a load of ways to make it work on a tight budget and save you money” is great. Saying “this is easy” can make people respond negatively. They feel excluded if it doesn’t seem easy to them rather than encouraged to think “Hey I could do that”.
Yes, yes we do need to replace all of our camping gear. We should all be striving to get the possible kit to make the best possible game. Do we need to do it for the first event? Of course not. For the fifth event? No. There is no schedule or routine, each of us has a varied amount of disposable income that we want to dedicate to the hobby. Many will want new costume, weapons and camp dressing for the first event. It would not be a good to turn up in your frock coat and musket for our medieval game and say “I spent my costume budget on this aufentik cooking pot”
Everyone has to set their own priorities, central dictat only works well in North Korea missile tests. But what I hope we Empire can have is a general groundswell of ambition to make this the most extraordinary LRP game that anyone has ever been involved with. And that requires us all to want to improve our kit – not just for the first event – but for every event.
Nobody should be held to account for what is bluntly an unimportant non-game item – but it would be cool if every one of us wanted to do the best we could. Instead of being defensive about the things we haven’t done – we should be positive about the things we have done and just say “Yeah, that gas burner is OOC, so I keep it out of sight in my tent. It’s on my list to sort one day – after I have bought a beautiful IC tent and decked out my war elephant with a proper IC howdah”.It’s down to PD to get the best possible site to run the games on. It’s down to the players to get the best possible kit they can to play the game with.
The fact that things are not perfect, that nothing is perfect, is the basis that we can all take to think “What can I improve for next time” – not a justification for saying “really – does it matter – it’s just a game”.
Yes, it’s easy to be a kit nazi. You just need a good sneer and better costume than the player next to you. It’s much harder to get a really positive community spirit developing around “Lets all help each other to have the best possible kit we can”.
Which is why whenever the issue comes up I tend to post very long and lengthy responses… Because I think this issue, more than any other single issue, is the most challenging aspect of Empire. It’s the make-or-break point for the game. If we get this right, we’ll have an awesome game and everything else will just be icing on the cake.
Remember the immortal words of Bill Shankley – “Some people believe LRP is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”.
LRP is hobby, it’s just a game – none of it really matters. And it’s profoundly important to keep that clear in our minds, at the point where people are upset and angry and shouting at each other over some trivia. But if we say “It’s just a game, it doesn’t matter” then we lose our passion for life. Would artists say “It’s just art, it doesn’t matter”? I suspect most would not.
“If we want our games to be awesome, we must be awesome to our games” – The Sphinx, Mystery Men.”