CW: A lot of discussion of finances, what is “reasonable” to pay for something, and what is “reasonable” compensation for work.
TL;DR: Writing Lit form LARPs takes a long time to do well. That makes them expensive to pay writers for. Which is not to say in any way shape or form that we -shouldn’t- pay writers. But here’s my breakdown of *why* it costs so much, and how that would translate to ticket prices for my group, and why the problem feels intractable to me.
I encourage respectful discussion, including challenging of my claims here, but please keep in mind that I’m doing my best to come from a place of honesty and a desire for transparency around potential pricing. *This* is the post to say things like “all writing should be paid. Players have to foot that bill.”
Keep it civil though. It can be true that writers need to be paid and also that doing so prices many people out of the hobby. I’m not expecting the miracle solution to this problem to come out of this post, but who knows, someone might come up with something clever that takes us a step or two in that direction.
Math Time! Let’s talk about what it would take to pay writers for a weekend LARP of the variety I write (Lit Form / high structure), and how to balance that with financially accessible tickets.
An assumption, which may not be perfect, but I have to constrain the design space somewhere:
- $15/hr is a reasonable going rate for both writing and running the LARP.
A couple of observations or extrapolations from my own lived experience:
- 1 year of work, averaging 6 hrs a week (which translates to ~2 months at a full time job for each GM.) Is a reasonable estimate of how long a 20 person game takes to write. There is -some- slop in this, but not much, unless your writers are very efficient.
- Running a weekend game (Friday afternoon to Sunday evening) is three 12 hour days (includes set up and tear down), + two 8 hour days ahead of time for casting, printing, and assembling game. -> 52 total hours to run the game. There is no cushion in this estimate; it might even be under-estimating.
- It is desirable for tickets to be no more expensive than $400. This allows for ~1/4 of my player base to pay more than the base price to help subsidize the ~1/2 who will be unable to afford the game without financial assistance. This will be touch and go. – $300 would yield closer to 1/3 of players unable to afford it, and ~1/3 who could over pay.
- If you sacrifice most immersion, venues can be had for ~175$ / person for the duration of the event on the West Coast of the USA.
- Other costs for game, like a sensitivity editor, props, and printing costs can be approximated at about $50/ticket. – Things like a photographer are NOT included in this budget, and not considered in this analysis.
- Combining 3, 4, and 5: $400 – 175 – 50 = $175 per ticket that can go toward paying writers. To reach a $300 ticket, we could only put $75/ticket toward paying writers.
Cost for a 20 player game:
If a group of 3 GMs writes a 20 person game, and runs it 1x, it is 936 hours of writing time, and 52 hours of run time. This ends up working out to 104 hours per PC. At $15/hr, that’s $16,380 to create the game. Spread among the 20 players, that’s $820 of your ticket. Add in the $225 for other expenses, and we are over $1k/ticket.
If we run the game more than once, to try to reduce the financial burden on individual players to reach our proposed $400/ticket max, I would have to run this game 12 times for a total of 240 people. It is impossible to reach a $300 ticket. The per ticket cost for writing/running bottoms out at $117 because of the increasing cost of running the game over and over.Continue reading