Location of sites is a major issue for a lot of the people running games in the UK. If land is cheap and plentiful it’s because it’s not where people want to travel to.
Most events run Friday to Sunday, as that’s when most people are free from work. This means we’re travelling at the worst possible times for traffic in our crowded little country. We also have stringent rules about what land can be used when and how.
We at Mandala really want someone who can get us permission to use warehouses for running Sci Fi events. We’d need it for a week or two, and it would need working toilets. Electricity is also useful, but not a deal breaker.
Site availability is often the thing that decides whether or not a game is going to run. Centrally placed scout sites are becoming less and less available to LRPers. Some are used only be one system, or for three games a year, and others, such as Rough Close, won’t allow LRPers at all. There are dedicated sites available, but they’re either massively under resourced or Huntley Wood.
Sites massively constrain what we can do. The shape and layout of the buildings (if there are any) dictates the path and pacing of the game. The location of features adds character to the in game setting and obfuscates the ic/ooc join. Most UK LRP looks like it’s running at a scout site – and that’s because it is. Curious Pastimes faction camps have a huge amount of character in part because of the efforts of the players in those factions, but also because of the way the sites are laid out. You’re more removed from reality, things are hidden and it makes the game world a little more contained and hence more real. It provides a fuzzy wall to obscure some of the reality around you.
We really want something like the Bicolline site. They have 140 hectares of Quebec on which they have built a medieval style village. They have 2000 players who attend a week long event at the end of the summer. We wouldn’t be allowed to build as they have. It’s just not something that would be accepted by the UK planning system.
The Lorien Trust and CP started with systems that run a big event over the August bank holiday (CP as a direct result of its LT ancestry). Few of our large systems run a week long event. I’m not sure if there’s the appetite for something so long, or if it’s something that happens abroad because people travel much longer distances to get to events and so want to be there for more than the 2-4 days that events normally last in the UK. If I were going to an event in Scotland I would want the event to be something solid that lasts for several days, and I couldn’t afford to do that more than once a year.
The availability of good sites is really holding back UK LRP. It’s a massive limiting factor in what we can do. It’s a huge frustration for people planning events. The compromises are massive and, if your player base is from around the country, most people are going to be unhappy most of the time. With the modern day events we’ve been playing in the real world (in a similar way to how Vampire In Public work), and it does work. People look at you funny if you walk across a hotel lobby loudly discussing whether or not you’re breaking into the right hotel this time, but the real world does work as a very immersive representation of itself.
We may have to start looking to run in different locations. We might have to revisit the traditional Friday night to Sunday format. We may have to learn from people like Secret Cinema and run our events over and over for a mainstream audience paying mainstream prices to be able to run in the locations we want to use. Whilst our problem is not unique our hobby is really showing the signs of the impact of that issue. And we need to be more imaginative in order to work around it. Fortunately imagination, unlike land, is not in short supply.