Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Burnout: How to Properly Diagnose and Treat It

LARPs are different in many different ways, but there is one thing that appears to be consistant amongst LARPs, as well as pretty much any game that you might play.

Burnout can, and given enough time will, happen to everyone. Organizers and plot members might be more prone to burnout, but every single one of us could experience less and less fun as we head to events, until we decide we simply do not want to do it anymore.

And as the picture indicates, Burnout can have a serious effect on everyone around you. That's why friends don't let friends burnout violently.*

Signs of Burnout

If you think you or a loved one might be experiencing burnout, look for these signs.

- Not taking RP seriously
- Focusing on faults of the game instead of the good
- Consistantly missing events or deadlines without sufficient reason
- Disinterest in previous interests
- Chronic boredom

If you can identify two or more of these symptoms, that person might be on the verge of Burnout. Don't worry! Burnout is completely natural when a person has put in sufficient effort over a long period of time.

So what should I do when I see the onset of Burnout?

1. Talk to Someone
For whatever reason, we are compelled to keep our discontent to ourselves. Unfortunately, this doesn't help fix the problem. Sometimes, verbalizing the problem with someone else is enough to work through whatever's bothering you, averting the crisis. Grab a friend and let them know what's up. At the very least, it helps you identify this problem and deal with it.

2. Change your game
This could actually mean one of two things. First, you can simply try to change how you play the game. If you're used to doing heavy RP, try picking up some fighting skills. If you're a hardcore fighter, play a roleplaying role. Force yourself out of your comfort zone. The brain craves challenges and this will give you a chance to excel at something else for a change.

The second thing you can do is try another game altogether. There are many games out there to try, and playing something new and exciting could be enough to break you out of a LARPing funk.

3. Reduce your Involvement
Whether you're a player or a plot member, quitting LARP cold turkey can often leave a significant void in the game. As a player, let your team and the staff know that you're cutting down on your involvement, and give them a realistic time-table. If your character has a major political role, you will have to give them a longer heads up.

As a staff member, start delagating your duties and help find a replacement and train them. There is a lot of tribal knowledge when it comes to running a game, and the game won't get better unless you can find a way to pass that knowledge on. You may need to be on-call for questions for a while, but you can definitely start cutting back now. While you could simply disappear, that's not fair to all your friends who are still playing the game. Helping the transition will help you keep friends, especially if you ever decide to come back.

4. Keep it to Yourself/Don't Grief
Finally, if you're unhappy with the game, tell it to the people running the LARP. Don't let it carry over to the other players. There's no reason why you have to be spiteful to the game, especially after being involved in it for so long. Let them make up their minds on how they feel about the game.

In addition, don't grief other players or the game itself on the way out. Don't do something that your character wouldn't do. I've seen players release trapped villians and throw away powerful artifacts on their way out of the game. That's just being dickish and should not be tolerated. Plot teams that encounter this kind of behavior should limit the damage caused by the griefer. Do not use it as an excuse to screw over the players, because the malicious player who is quitting the game will get their way.

Again, Burnout is completely natural, and in many cases the players will come back after some time off. If managed correctly, the whole incident will end on good terms, and it will be far easier to come back if you haven't burned all the bridges on the way out.

*Friends should let friends Burnout when they need to. Just don't let them damage the game on the way out.

(Posted in conjunction with


  1. Great post, and well timed. :)

  2. I would love to see a post on burnout of a parent of a larper.she has been in since she was 12 she's 23 now. I've been in complete support of her and have helped every way I could throughout all of the four different groups that she's run .but now I'm tired...

  3. After reading this, i am still having trouble. I brought it up to our Facebook page, but while people said they have gone through it, didn't offer any advice, just a link here. I think about the stuff listed in this article and i can't feel any sort of viable solution from it. My ideas people like, but i all of a sudden want to change them, but have no clue what to change them to. Maybe i am being too indecisive, too picky or over thinking this.