Let's face it: LARP doesn't always pay the bills. There are some exceptions, of course, but for the most part you're looking at LARP as a hobby to some degree, even with all the amount of work you might put into it. However, that doesn't mean that you can't capitalize on all the effort you've put in. I know first hand how staffing (and playing!) a LARP can give you real life skills that drastically help your real life career. I learned how to manage groups of people, how to give and accept feedback, and how to rationally problem solve unexpected hurdles all through LARPing. As an English major, that wasn't something I really learned in school, so it was all completely relevant to my future work life.
But the question after that is what becomes more difficult -- how do you capture the work you put into LARPing on a resume? And to beat you to the punch, yes, you should absolutely put any LARP work you've done on your resume. It goes much longer and is a lot less foreign to an employer than you might think it is. I've been putting LARP on my resume since I started staffing games in 2008, first as what was essentially an ops coordinator, then as a writer, and later as a game organizer and designer. It is absolutely possible to put nearly any position you have at a LARP into your resume. So here are some tips from someone who always puts LARP on their resume, and from someone who sees a lot of good (and bad) representations of LARP work on their resume.
1. Don't Beat Around The Bush
Whatever your title is at your game, use it. Marshal, Plot Writer, Storyteller, GM, AGM -- don't hesitate to put it on there. This falls under the same theory as talking about LARP; when you seem reticent talking about what it is you do and what it means (even on paper), people notice and they will assume there's something wrong with it. Don't be ashamed of the work you do. It's challenging and you deserve credit for it. Don't sell yourself short by selling your position off as something else that it's not.
On top of that, if your potential employer decides to call companies for references, you don't want them to call your LARP organizer and ask about a title that doesn't exist. And believe in, that does happen more often than I'd like to say. I encourage my staff to put their LARP experience and my contact info on their resume, but I have no idea what a "Customer Service Engagement" position at my game is.
Legit. I've gotten that phone call.
2. What Do You Do?
Let's say you're a marshal. Your job is to make sure people play the game safely and help the writers run modules. On face value, it doesn't feel that impressive or worthy of ending up on your resume. It makes it that much easier to undervalue the work that you do at game and how it can help your real life career. If you're struggling to find words for your LARP work, try taking a moment to think about what everything you do for or at your game. So let's break it down.
You, as a marshal, might do the following:
- know the rules
- check weapons for safety
- keep players safe
- work a six hour NPC shift
- listen to player concerns
- help run modules/plot
- help set up or break down game
- help write item cards
- train other marshals
That is, at its core, a lot of stuff and a lot more then it might seem when you are considering your position. There could be more than this too; write down everything -- literally everything -- and if you need to trim things down that might be less relevant, you have plenty of material to do so with.
3. Sell Yourself
So you've got a list of all the work you do and you know what points you want to touch on, but dropping it onto your resume as it is isn't going to help you get a job. You know the work you do -- now you've got to make it approachable and understandable to someone who might not know what LARPing is.
As an example, I am a Director for Dystopia Rising Massachusetts. I help write and overview plot stuff and I have a bunch of storytellers and marshals I train and are actively on my staff, and I've written some content for the DR sourcebook. This is how it looks on my current resume, which is geared towards game writing and management (I'll get to that in a minute):
Create, write, and manage elaborate, campaign-style storylines and live events for up to 800 players to participate in, and react to the unique circumstances that may result by player-driven choices. Coordinate and answer queries from both players and staff members. Actively market via social media and email. Coach and develop a team of six writers as well as up to twenty safety and rules staff. Write content for the Dystopia Rising sourcebooks.
It sounds a hell of a lot more impressive when you put it that way and even if you don't know what LARP is, there are some key phrases in there that end up being important. Management, content creation, coaching and customer service are all a huge part of what I do and when it's phrased in a way to make sense to a non-LARPer, it opens a gateway to talk about that experience with a potential employer and how it will be relevant to your job.
There are a lot of resources on the internet in regards to describing your work on a resume, but a big part of it is something called "action words." It's basically corporate lingo to make your shit sound good. This is one of my favorite resources for action words from Mount Washington College, but there are plenty of other places online you can look too.
4. Know Your Enem-- er, Employer
You're not gonna like this one. I'm sorry in advanced.
You need to change and adjust your resume for every damn job you apply for. Yep, I'm serious. Yep, it is absolutely, 100% worth the effort.
The work description I provided in the last point is off a resume I used for a few game design and game writer positions; if I was applying for a management position, or a customer service role, I would vastly adjust that description based on the points that would be relevant to that employer and that job. And I do that for every job description that I keep on my resume.
My LARP experience is no different. If you go back to that original list of tasks you do for game, some of them might be more relevant to a store manager role versus a secretary or front desk clerk. You will get a lot of mileage out of doing your research and find out what's valuable to the company, and the position, and editing your resume to better fit that role. You want to highlight the points in your experience that make you more valuable to that employer.
The same goes for talking points if and when you land an interview. Be prepared to talk about those experiences, so don't bullshit them. Be confident of your skills and your skillsets that LARPing has helped you develop.
5. Get a Job
And you will. Writing, running, or working for a LARP is an incredibly unique and often demanding job that gives a lot of opportunity that we don't often consider, but your employer definitely will. When you walk into an interview and say "yeah, last week I wrote, planned, and coordinated an event for 200 people," their eyes will get wide. Then you lean in, smile and tell them "and I do it every month." You will seem like a god damn magician to them.
Little do they know you actually are.