So, now that Phoenix is over I’ve actually had time to look at the results of the Christchurch LARP survey I sent out a while ago.
42 people answered the survey, which isn’t a big enough sample size to draw any real statistical conclusions from, but is a pretty good number for a marketing survey. We have a lot of male LARPers (which we knew), and a lot of younger LARPers (which I knew anecdotally, but it’s good to have that confirmed). The Christchurch gender skew seems to be at least partially a function of age - most of our older LARPers are male, while the younger ones actually skew female, if only slightly.
A few things I learned from this that I think are important for Christchurch’s future LARP scene:
The overwhelming majority of survey respondents attended LARPs at Buckets of Dice, and almost all of those who didn’t attend had heard about them. By contrast, only a few of those who didn’t attend the one-offs that ran this year had heard about them at all. What I’m getting from this is that Buckets has a huge established audience in Christchurch, and LARP in general has a bit of work to do to get those audience numbers up.
100% of respondents found out about events from the Saga Facebook page. This may have been skewed by my posting the survey on the Saga Facebook page (although I did try to get it spread around a few more groups, so I don’t think that entirely explains it). “Another Facebook page” was the next most common result, so it looks like basically all the LARP promotion in Christchurch that people are listening to is happening on Facebook.
A pretty decent majority (75%) of respondents wanted to attend more LARPs this year but either they couldn’t make some of the games or there just weren’t enough games run. That’s awesome, it means we have a market for more games than we’ve been running. (As a general guideline, Saga usually runs 1-3 LARPs at Buckets of Dice, one or two at each Minicon, of which there are four over the year, and a whole bunch at Phoenix.)
Almost everyone is into one-off games, with a fair amount of interest in campaigns as well (just over 60%). I think we currently have enough interest for a campaign to run in Christchurch - the problem currently is a lack of interest/experience/confidence in organising and running the thing. Most of us have very little or no experience playing or crewing in campaign games, which makes it difficult to get things kickstarted.
There’s a lot of interest in what I referred to in the survey as “weird experimental games”, and given the reception that TRYST and Gaslight got at Phoenix, I’d say that’s only likely to increase.
There was also a fair amount of interest in combat LARP (13 people, which is enough to run a decent workshop).
As far as genre goes, everyone’s pretty much into everything, with none of the listed genres (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, drama, comedy, murder mystery) getting less than 70% of respondents interested. Fantasy topped the list with 100%, and sci-fi had 96%, so the demand for SFF games is definitely there.
If everyone who ticked the “interested” box for a workshop actually attended, we’d have enough for a couple of acting sessions, a couple of writing sessions, a couple of costume sessions, and a combat session. If half the people who ticked “interested” actually turned up, we’d still have enough for decent-sized acting, writing, and costume making workshops. I’m very happy about the level of interest in these, and I’ll be trying to organise some of them soon.
Barriers to attendance
The biggest one here is that everyone’s too busy, followed by LARPs being run at inconvenient times. I’m basically taking this to mean that we can expect a certain level of attrition due to people having lives outside LARP, but also that we could be pushing games a bit harder/making our promotions more exciting to make people pick LARPing over whatever else they could/should be doing with their time.
A few people were nervous or shy about acting in front of others, or new to the community and worried about how they’d be treated. Games that are newbie-friendly and specifically advertised as such will hopefully help with this.
People wrote a lot of helpful things about how Christchurch LARP can make itself more attractive to people coming from out of town, but there were two that kept coming back up - on-site accommodation and games that you can’t get anywhere else.
I’ve put in a proposal to run Phoenix next year, and if I do get to be in charge the con will hopefully be moving to a scout camp, which will solve the accommodation problem.
We also have a lot of original games coming out of Christchurch, many of which haven’t been played anywhere else, so it looks to me like we need to step up our marketing, and make people outside of Christchurch aware of the cool stuff we’re doing here.