I have had the privilege to be able to both run and play events at the Grange Live Gaming site in the centre of Birmingham recently. It’s a brilliant site that offers something entirely new to UK LRPers. We can control the weather (as long as we’re making it dry and cold). We don’t have to work out how to make 30 acres of British woodland look like it’s another planet. It removes large sets of visual compromises. It’s got a nice flexible floor layout, staff that understand LRP, and the ability to grow and develop a site that really works for some Science Fiction games.
It comes with new compromises of its own. While it’s only 5 minutes bimble from Birmingham New Street station, there’s limited car parking at the site, and unloading is made complicated by both city centre parking restrictions and Airsoft games being played around the site. It’s not warm and doesn’t have a kitchen – although these can both be catered for with advanced warning. If players know that they may need extra layers they’ll bring them and there are a variety of ways to cater this sort of event. We used ration packs at the event we ran and food was brought in from another site for the event I played.
We paid 11p a minute for enough diesel to run the generator and if the players weren’t on site we turned it off.
I was talking to people about another site we’ve used for science fiction games. Four years ago we ran Alone 4 at Drakelow Tunnels. The players spent the entire weekend underground. We were faced with trying to dress 3.5 miles of underground tunnels. Fortunately we wanted them to be an abandoned facility in the middle of an asteroid, and they looked very much like an abandoned facility in the middle of a lump of rock. We set the game to make the best use of the site we had. Again, we were going to a facility that had limited resources. We had no chairs. We concluded the players could cope without, and bought thirty plastic garden chairs for the crew from a recycling centre reuse shop. We needed to run computers, so we had to build desks, run power and network, and acquire computers that would cope in the rather damp environment we were in. It worked. It was effort, but it worked. We paid 11p a minute for enough diesel to run the generator and if the players weren’t on site we turned it off. When it was dark we drove people to the local pub to get the code sorted for the game.
I am still trying to work out siteless games.
People can LRP anywhere. Running a game that is accessible to anyone who is willing to create a space in their own home has benefits. Not least that they are responsible for providing appropriate food and heating the location in a way that satisfies them. It has drawbacks. I am not able to stop their families and friends interrupting the game and this may have a negative effect on other players, and I can’t set dress their space to my satisfaction. Again, if images of their space are seen and it doesn’t look appropriate for the game it does have an impact on other players. I’m also less able to provide awkward physical games and it becomes a lot harder to sustain and impart emotions on your players. Breaking with the game is a much more natural act when you’re in a space you are controlling.
I go on about sites, but they dictate the events we can run. They’re often expensive, and always come with compromises. I keep hoping that there’s a magic answer to the site issue. The Grange Live Gaming site, Bravo One, is the best new solution I’ve seen recently. It’s a whole new set of awkward logistics.
Featured image courtesy of Grange Live Gaming