Re: the role of plot/hobby vs. "employment"

Jovunn

Adept
Gettysburg Staff
Yes the staff of the chapter essentially functions as employees, especially logistics, Owners, GM's, Heads of Rules and Player reps but their impact on the game really only extends to the periods in between games. From roughly 9:00 PM friday night to 12:00 Noon sunday we are all players and we are all responsible for making the game fun for everyone.
Respectfully, this is totally contingent on how a staff runs their game.
Example: at GB, I am literally on-call 24/7 in game while PCing. I invite PCs at the beginning of every event to seek me out if they are uncomfortable, unhappy, or just want to give me some feedback they're afraid they'll forget between game and when I send my survey. My impact is constant and immediate - if I take our players' temperatures and hear that things are running a little too slow or we don't have quite enough crunch for the folks who don't really come for the RP, it is my responsibility to get to NPC camp and say, "hey, how can we get some crunch out between mods for the folks who aren't presently being engaged by the main or secondary plots/the stick jocks?". I feel, personally, that if I have to wait a month to fix what is happening now, I have not fulfilled the requirements of my volunteer position.

I have seen this happen a lot at HQ this past season, too - with few exceptions, Donna and HQ plot/NPC camp have been really willing to on-the-fly adjust to the player feedback they receive within a given event - obviously, always within reason.
 

Muir

Fighter
Just wanted to speak up and say I love hearing stuff like the above. That's how this sort of thing should be handled, IMHO.
 

Simon

Adept
Outsiders perspective here...sort of. I have been on staff in another hobby for the past 3 years or so. When I go to an event I am there to have a good time, but my responsibilities to make the event happen come before that. I do what I have to do. I work with the rest of the staff to keep things from being unreasonable, but as I told my wife, when I am at the event I am pretty much working from 0600 - 1700 at the least. Time off to just enjoy things is the exception and not the rule. I do my best but I know what my perspective has to be. I also know that in doing so many other people have a wonderful time and I am doing my part to make a hobby that I treasure continue to thrive. In the end that is another whole level of enjoyment...it just happens to be tiring. It does not mean that I am there to be mistreated, but you have to put yourself second behind the hobby, and the others enjoying the event.

Joe Siegel
 

evi1r0n

Baron
So, I have a bit of experience in the "being staff" department. For 3 years I helped run plot in Alliance Seattle. I have been general manager of a local to Seattle game called World of Oz for about a year, and with the help of a good friend, I am opening my very own sci-fi game early next year called Spite.

I think good "customer service" is vital to a LARP. If one of my staff members is slacking at Oz, I replace them. This is a hobby, first and foremost, but we also have a responsibility to our players to provide a game that people want to come to. I have seen games crash and burn because of terrible customer service. So there is a weird middle ground here. Sure it's just a hobby but if you have a plot member that never shows up or writes anything, you replace them, right?

Players do spend time and money to come to games. Sure you don't "owe" them anything, since it is just a hobby but that's a good way to watch your game suffer in attendance. I don't think, however, we should cater to people who treat the game like a it's a business and they are entitled as a "paying customer". I think that the players need to realize that people on staff are unpaid volunteers and should be respectful.

It's a crazy balancing act. I want my game to do well so I will provide a good customer experience so it will grow and flourish.
 
I think evi1r0n hit the nail on the head with the use of the word "volunteer". I'm a manager for my profession and I've managed volunteers at larp and other places. Managing employees in a job that pays their bills is far different than managing volunteers...in too many ways to discuss here. To me, not being paid is what makes this a hobby. Anyone can step away at any time and it's not going to affect their ability to eat or put a roof over their head.

But that's all just semantics. Just because it's not a profession, doesn't mean we shouldn't be professional. But we should also nurture an atmosphere where our "paying customers" understand this as well and treat the "employees" with a little more respect and understanding than they would a "career employee". The example of the youth ice hockey team is a good one. These issues are not unique to larp, they go on in roller derby, church groups, motorcycle clubs, etc. And very often the people just showing up and "playing" forget that the "employees" are doing this out of love and passion for their chosen "hobby". It's really as simple as having some respect and understanding for each other (and sometimes forgiveness). A lack of favoritism by the volunteer staff is also pretty important.
 
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