sound + larp spaces

let’s take a moment to talk about AUDITORY PROCESSING HELL

A list of things I find difficult about sounds:

  1. When a lot of people are talking at once, talking over each other, or there’s several different loud conversations happening around me
  2. When someone’s trying to talk e.g. announcements, but side conversations keep breaking out
  3. When there’s audible background music in a space that I can’t control while trying to focus on a different activity
  4. When I need to be able to listen for a sound or sounds while doing something else

Unsurprisingly, this comes up a lot in LARP spaces. Admittedly beggars on shoestring budgets cannot be choosers about spaces in large metro areas, so the godawful acoustics of a lot of affordable spaces is not per se something I expect people running LARPs to be able to control, but the other stuff I think can be improved a bit.

Some of it I think can be fixed by having good moderation around certain times like announcements, or info sessions, where there’s an expectation that you don’t talk unless called upon and so on. Sound during game is a different and interesting problem.

I tend to prefer having more discrete spaces to put players in during LARP, and I think that can help contribute to a better sound environment—just so you don’t have a lot of people trying to hold conversations in the same space. Being able to put up screens or dividers in large rooms might help, also, and trying to get players to filter out into smaller scenes.

The other thing is I guess a plea to consider accessibility against a dramatic experience/immersion—to be honest, if I can’t parse sounds because there’s a bunch of conflicting background noises that I can’t filter out, it breaks my immersion because my characters don’t generally have mad auditory processing issues, ha ha. I’m not sure if it’ll really break anyone’s experience to not have a soundtrack, or to have to make a quick mechanical test to see if they can hear something, but it does honestly fuck with my experience to either start to go into shutdown or feel like I missed out on a cue I should have gotten.

Aaaaaaanyway this is just to say that sometimes something that is largely a pleasant experience can tip over into very draining just because Sound; please consider your friendly neighborhood sound-hating LARPer

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4 Comments

  1. i haaaate hate hate when larps have music or extra sound playing tbh, especially since we’re all nerds and want everyone to see how cool our setpieces are and tend to play mood sound effects kind of loudly.

    if people really gotta, i feel like a solid compromise is for a big setpiece to play the music for a few seconds for ~mood~ and then turn it off after a minute so everyone can hear all 30 other people (or: just describe it!)

    1. YEAH there’s like—idk a lot of people who feel like just ~describing~ something to the group as narration breaks immersion rather than having it actually doing the thing, but also, consider, i’m dying,

  2. Entirely all of this, and also I hate having to ask people to repeat themselves instead of being able to respond IC, it really breaks up a scene, and also when I have to shout to be able to participate in the roleplay! It’s incredibly unfun!

  3. I also have some auditory processing issues mixed with a decent helping of anxiety, so when side conversations break out while one person is trying to convey information in a centralized way to a large group it makes me SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE. Like, y’all, you’re missing the information! So help me god if you ask a dumb question later because you weren’t paying attention and also distracted everyone around you…

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