The Sign In Experience

Your player’s first encounter with your game during their very first session will be with the sign in desk.  This section of the game experience is overlooked despite its importance in setting the scene for players – especially new players.  Will they feel welcomed and refreshed?  Or confused and frustrated?  You can make this process smooth or onerous depending on how well you resource the desk and how many volunteers you get.

Each LARP will have a different selection of tasks that need to be completed during sign in.

Here’s a selection of examples:

  • Welcoming New Players: Some games allow walk ins, but even those that have had some interaction with Game Masters beforehand will have their first real experience at game be during the sign in process.
  • Weapon’s Checks: Game that allow boffer / foam weapon fighting will often require folks to have their weapons safety checked for breaks or other dangerous elements.
  • Armour Counts: Some games have complex methods of counting armour depending on both material and amount of coverage. 
  • Sign In: Actually signing in to game so organisers can keep track of who actually attended. This is important for insurance purposes.
  • Cash Handling: Managing ticket sales and marking down who has paid what.
  • Forms: There may be membership forms, disclaimers and photographic permission slips that needs to be handed out and then checked for errors (and there will often be errors).
  • Questions: Players may have questions about rules or logistics (i.e. meal times) that they will need to ask someone.
  • Directions: Telling players where to stash their gear or where there assigned bed is.
  • Item Collection: Sometimes there might be equipment chosen by the players that need to be picked up, or item tags to prove that their character constructed or found what they say they did.

You can see how having just one person manage sign in can be easy or impossible depending on how many tasks they’re expected to do and how many players they must manage.  One person could handle all these aspects for three players, but it would take a very long time to manage thirty or more.

Having three people on sign in desk, doing all of these tasks simultaneously, could also lead to lines at the desk where folks who need a lot of assistance could take up a lot of time and slow down those who just need to sign in. 

Therefore it’s a good idea, where there’s a lot of tasks, to split them up among several volunteers so that you have a conveyor belt approach where the players are funnelled between folks depending on their needs.  You then resource each area based off your own game’s unique needs.

You might have one volunteer handle ticket sales, hands out forms and gets participants to sign in; another who checks weapons and helps with armour counts, and a third person who answers questions and gives directions as to where players should go to stash their gear.

Oh and make sure to provide the basic resources such as sufficient pens, blank paper, cash tins, tables and / or clipboards so folks have what they need at the desk.  And always have more than one pen as someone is bound to walk off with it, especially if they  have forms to sign in.

Have you had a particularly good sign in process?  Or a particularly frustrating experience?  What advice would you give?

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