Creating a LARP is a labor of love, one that we aren't often prepared for. When a passion becomes a job, the intensity often results in a real sense of burn-out that can cause damage to yourself and your game. We work hard to create a strong community, playing the role of a leader while we don't pay time to our own needs and wants. While it's important to maintain a good core group of players, it's pointless to do so if you aren't placing yourself in the best position possible to guide them and run your business.
At the end of the day, if you're considering running your own game, the best thing you can give yourself is a strong foundation.
These days, LARP and social media are closely tied. Most of the folks on my friends lists on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr are all tangentially involved in LARP, if not LARPers or LARP runners themselves. Additionally, there's a growing and inherent need to advertise and maintain a presence on the web to advertise your business and create a brand for your game that makes social media almost unavoidable. However, that creates a potentially rocky scenario in which your business and your private life crash against each other and you may find your life being nothing but your LARP and your business.
I think most LARP runners and LARPers instinctually add anyone they've met at game to their social media feeds, but resist the temptation and build boundaries between yourself and your work. Consider making a public Facebook page for game announcements and discussions and a private page for yourself, the people and topics you're invested in outside of LARP. This lets you choose when and who you want to engage with and ensures that your social media feeds aren't strictly your work.
You can also choose to add a friend and unfollow them so they don't show up on your feed, but I'm much more in favor of giving your players a different avenue because of--
Clear Pathways of Communication
Unless you're working, your social media time is for you, not your players.
We all have social media profiles everywhere and it is tempting for players to go to the easy line of communication -- your messenger or DMs. Beyond the potential to be overwhelming, instant messenger services are incredibly easy to lose in your day to day life and run the risk of getting lost. Spare yourself the stress by having clear lines of communication for your players. Have a specific email address for players to contact and do not respond to messenger queries, or guide your players to use an email instead.
It's important to have a hard and fast rule about this. Exceptions can quickly become the rule of players feel like their query can be expedited by going to you through personal means. It also ensures that there's no favoritism involved since all players -- friends or strangers -- end up in your mail inbox instead of your messenger and you can deal with them equally.
Make Time for Work
This is especially relevant if LARP is your full-time job or you work from home. You can create public office hours for yourself so your players can know when and how you're responding to messages. Sometimes if players see you interacting with others, but not answering the work email they sent five minutes ago, you'll see them feeling ignored or offended. Having clear office hours that are listed lets your players know when you respond as their LARP leader and when it's time for you to make fart jokes on the internet.
If you use Facebook, you can list your hours on your business page. Otherwise, you can list them on your website, or even put on automatic reply on your email inbox for any emails that come up outside your office hours. Choosing when you engage LARP and treat it like a real job will make it easier to detach yourself from your work at the end of the day. No one expects you to answer your email at your office after hours; you should apply the same standard to your LARP work.
Make Time to Play
All work and no play makes a LARP runner cray-cray. Play can come in multiple forms. First and foremost, I strongly believe LARP runners should still LARP, and especially play LARPs that they have no responsibility to. Playing your own game isn't really "playing" -- at the end of the day you're still working, observing, seeing what's working and what you can change. Instead, take the time to play other games so you can keep in touch with why you turned this hobby into a business in the first place.
It's also important to engage in things that aren't LARP. Take time to do the things you enjoy outside of game -- hiking, knitting, reading, video games -- and make sure your life isn't entirely built of the hobby you turned into a job. It's not that there's something wrong with living that good LARP life, but it can also feel inescapable and all-encompassing if you aren't careful, and that's the quickest road to burn-out.
Remember why you got into LARP, why you love it, and why it's just as important as all the other hobbies in your life and appreciate it in the same way. Your friends will thank you.
Take a Breath
Yes, there will be times when your players might treat you callously or cruelly. Excitement in all its forms -- passion, anger, happiness, frustration -- can overwhelm rational thought when it's something you care about so deeply, and for many players, LARP is what saved them or acts as the first place where they feel home. Here is where I apply the This is Water rule -- and yes, it's absolutely extra work on your end to think about where a person is coming from to make them react a certain way toward you, but that extra work will save your sanity.
You are working hard to create something exceptional, to allow individuals to recreate themselves in a world of their or your making. It's a lot of energy, time, labor, and love. There will be days where you won't feel appreciated. There will be days where you want to give up because it's overwhelming. Doing the above and creating a structure for yourself to work in the best environment isn't cruel to your players -- it's allowing you the space to be the best leader you can for your team and your LARP.
Take the space to be you and your LARP will flourish too.