On the week 7, I told to the Nordic Larp community my Communication manifesto. The topic has bothered me a while, and I am very happy that NLT-team gave a chance to talk about it on their event. Here is the video about the talk, and below I have added the slides and the text. I will in the near future open each topic even more in separate posts, as the original talk was around half an hour, but due format needed to be cut down heavily.
We have, as a community, become very good at communicating outside, to the world, about Nordic Larp. We are good at researching, and we are good at documenting. We write fantastic books and analysis, report and post pictures.
And don’t get me wrong, It is awesome.
But there’s something we foget while doing this:
We, ourselves, the Nordic Larpers.
The participants of our own larps and conventions that got in to the Daily Mail.
When we forget to communicate to our participants, we loose them.
We loose the energy that they bring to the event, their participation and enthusiasm.
We get frustrated players asking the same questions again and again. And we get stressed organisers who stop organising larps because it is so consuming.
I will not concentrate on the practical side of communication, but all of this can be used when talking about game content.
Johanna Koljonen has been talking a lot about player safety, and touching the topic of organizer safety. I think this is very important. I think that organisers should be able to see their loved ones instead of answering to a shit storm on Facebook.
In organising larps I try to live like I preach.
Even then I make mistakes. And this is why I am presenting you what I have learned from the mistakes I’ve made and witnessed others to do:
This is prestty easy. You are not writing the game to game researchers. Document, by all means, take pictures and write press releases, but do not forget the larper.
WHAT AND WHEN, EVERYTHING AND NOW
Map out all the participant needs to know! The participant needs to know everything. From should they bring a towel (or is there a sauna if you are in Finland) to how your meta techniques work and the vision for the costumes.
Make a long list about all of this, and not in your head. Make a list and share it with the other organisers. Show the list to your friends, get a peer review.
Find out when the participants need to know the information. Normally it is RIGHT NOW, but if you don’t have the information yet, you need to have deadlines when you latest need to find this out. Towel example is really easy. When the participants start to plan their travel three months before your event, they should know do they need to bring so much luggage that it needs to be checked in, as that affects travel plans.
And remember to structure “the what” on the website. Ask a peer review, show it to your parents, text can people find out the information they need – and revise your structure long before the event. When you get closer to the event, and are anyways stressed (and don’t tell me that wont happen), you get less questions about the costumes.
What do you already know. Put that to the website. Practical or design factors do not need surprises. If there has always been an opening scenario on your larp convention, and you are going to have on, put it on the website. It is not going to be a surprise few weeks before the con, but you have been receiving million questions about it till you finally publish it.
What do you DON’T KNOW yet? Put that on the website. Tell, when you know the missing information.
“We don’t know yet do you need to bring towels, but we will know latest a month before the event, and will tell you right away when we know.”
Update the information to the website (and to other platforms) when the information is available for you. There is nothing wrong in updating often, and especially fixing wrong information.
Postponing information for hype reasons. Think about that carefully. If the information is in anyways needing people to react on it, lets say like costume they need to bring, or the towel, don’t keep it from them. If they need to craft or buy something, give them the opportunity to use time on it.
“I cannot create a website” is not an excuse. Nowadays you can create an easy navigational site in less than five minutes on these click-and-go platforms.
Social media, forums, blogs and emails are good supporters to take your message forward, but the stable information should be on the website.
You cannot control Facebook events and groups, things get lost, and people behave sometimes like in football matches. Search in social media is often not functional, and we all have experienced a Facebook shot storm. You don’t want one.
Dealing information to several Facebook pages and events which people need to follow to acquire information is a COMMUNICATIONAL SUICIDE. Your time and energy on managing the right information is going to cost you your spare time, and participants get frustrated on their quest for the answer to the question “Do I need to bring a towel?”
When you find or create new information, it needs to change in all platforms you use. Put it on your website, on the Facebook event, page and group. Significant information should be blogged and emailed about, always linking to the primary source of the information: THE WEBSITE.
And now to the HOW: CLEARLY WITH ONE VOICE. This means one dedicated person or a team, no other organisers should add to the confusion. This person should preferably not have other obligations, but she should be part of the main organiser team to keep updated about everything.
Communication is supposed to happen clearly. Even though you should avoid sounding like you think that all your participants are toddlers, assume that they do not know your organising culture, your inside jokes and your vision.
This is why peer review and remembering that you are communicating to a person from an other culture is vital.
Cultural differences happen inside the Nordic Larp scene, they even happen inside smaller communities like the different larp groups in Helsinki.
Answering questions seems like an easy task, but often we fail in that, especially by confusing everyone.
Here one voice is important, and so is time (and this took me for ever to understand). It is not a matter of life and death to act fast. Find out the correct answer to the questions. Then PUT IT ON THE WEBSITE.
When you answer questions, avoid sarcasm and trigger fingers. When you are stressed, every question might feel like a personal insult, but they are not.
WE SHOULD START FROM THE PRE ASSUMPTION THAT QUESTIONS ARE ASKED BECAUSE ANSWERS WERE DIFFICULT TO FIND.
Before one uses their trigger fingers and fires shots with heat, I would like to remind you, that we can always agree to disagree. I am not looking for personally attack any part of the Nordic Larp community and I feel really sorry that I know I need to say that in the end of that post – and that the pre assumption is not that we can agree to disagree.
I am of course excited to hear your ideas and invite you to a dialogue, publicly or privately, about everything communication related.