We run fairly expensive games. We get a lot of people who tell us we charge too much for our games but to be quite blunt we couldn’t run our games if we charged less. We could run games, however they would lack some of the things that make our games the games we want to run. We don’t make money running events. We spend money running events. However much our players run we’ve invested far more in unpaid time, and often we’ve paid more money to make things work. (Ed. – see a previous post on how much games cost to run.)
Large LRP games are often businesses that need to pay someone. The prices are very low compared to festivals and similar that also run in this country. The price you charge dictates how many players turn up. There is an argument that by charging more and slightly reducing the number of players that will turn up you can focus more resources on a lower number of customers and the game will be easier to run.
No one has to play our games. A lot of people want to, and some of those people can’t afford to. However, LRP is not an expensive hobby. At the low end it is practically free. Local systems often charge a low annual membership, and players get regular games in a supportive community. Kids LRP in their back garden, of course, with sticks as swords and curtains as capes. There are Parlour LRPs that can be played in someone’s front room for a few hours, and they’re often available online and many have no kit requirements at all.
This doesn’t mean that every game should be affordable. It doesn’t mean that you, as a player, should be able to afford to go to any game you want to. If the game costs £400 per player to run, then you need to be able to contribute your £400 because otherwise other people will have to fund your place. And games runners who want to run a game that costs £400 a player should be able to do so – as long as they get the players who want to play that game. I’ve heard of games that charged over twice this and they still seem to be able to attract enough players o run.
For a lot of people the major thing that affects their ability to go to a game is not money, it’s time. About 45% of respondents to the L(a)RP census has participated in 0-4 games in the last twelve months . If you’re only playing a few games a year then of course you will pick which ones you attend more carefully. This doesn’t mean you’ll turn down low cost games. I’ve had an amazing time at games for which I’ve only paid £30, and while I usually spend over the odds on costume, that’s my choice to make. I could equip myself for those games for a lot less and probably still have a really great time.
LRP doesn’t have to be expensive, but not every game has to be cheap. I prefer games that charge a little more as generally that money isn’t spent on cake and sycophants, but on improving what the game offers for its players. I’m aware that prices some players out of those games, and I have occasionally bought tickets for other players when I’m aware they can’t afford them. As I’m not currently employed with a stable income that won’t be happening for a while, and there will be games I won’t go to because I can’t afford them while I freelance making costume and props.
I almost always push for large systems to charge more. I think that refusing to charge a realistic amount for games causes good organisers to end up exhausted and with no money, and means they stop running games, or at least stop running as many games. I also think that with a bit more money we could move UK LRP on. We could be building the systems and structures to run games with better kit, and better weaponry. The attitude that games should be kept cheap so that everyone can afford to play is holding our hobby back. Everyone can afford to play. That doesn’t mean they have to be able to afford to play every single game that they want to play.