To Shoot/Not To Shoot: A Preliminary Study On Inter-Xeno Marketing

To Shoot/Not to Shoot

People require amusement and this fact is never lost on two major types:
(1) those who demand toys and/or entertaining games and;
(2) those who profit from the manufacturing and distribution of said toys and games.

The popularity of Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) games have been increasing across the galaxy, always involving participants from different worlds. Terrans [T], Orcs [O], Dwarves [D] and Elves [E] are the four main races interested with 99.6% of all recorded LARP games hosting all four races.

However, despite the relative increase, participants are still low. Efforts have been made by various organizations to form leagues to attract new players whilst others have attempted to manufacture and distribute gaming equipment such as holo-costumes and mock weaponry (amongst other items). Such efforts have not only failed to reap any profit but have incurred significant losses, with participants not merely ignoring them but dismissing them in a rather violent manner.

Naturally, there was the question of “Why?” followed by so-called marketing experts getting pummeled – hence the infamous “Marketing Consultants’ Purge” on Terra last year – action more akin to what accidentally on purpose happens at LARP events, especially with the presence of Orcs.

In order to even consider invading the LARP market, we must understand the mindset of those who participate. Whilst over 97% of players are adults, we began our investigation with younglings; after all, adults were once younglings too and most assume such adults are acting like younglings.

Let us examine the following based on the multiple group interviews conducted with the four main races. The below may be considered as dramatic but it is in essence true. We ignored other races since their numbers were not considered as market significant. The first groups were comprised of younglings [1]. Since the four races develop biologically and intellectually at different rates, younglings were those who have recently shown signs of their second set of teeth.

Interviewer: Do you like to play with toys?
T1: Depends.
D1: Are you buying?
Interviewer: If I have some, what would you choose?
T1: You mean “will”?
E1: The human is correct, “would” is past tense.
D1: Can I keep it if I like it?
O1: Just Show Us, Puny Grown-Up.
Interviewer: There’s too much. It’s easier if you give me an idea of what you like first.
T1: Constructo blocks.
E1: Constructo aren’t bad. I prefer a bow.
T1: We need lots of blocks though. It’s no fun when you just have one box.
O1: Bow?! Constructo? Hammers And Maces Are Better.
D1: A vehicle, one I can ride in.
O1: And Catapults. I Like Catapults. With Real Rocks, Not Foam Pieces.
Interviewer: What if you were to play together?
T1: I’d still play with Constructo blocks. Or do you mean games?
Interviewer: It doesn’t have to be games.
E1: “Skewer the Spy” but we need bows and arrows and a really big area.
O1: Nah. “Smash that Bastard”. Last-One-Standing Rules.
D1: That needs a big area too. Besides, do I have to play with them?

It is interesting to note that despite the younglings were interviewed together, the above responses were similar across the sample for both male [m] and female [f], each initially giving their preferences assuming they were to play alone. Collectively, the younglings were interested in interactive games with physical intensity. Either way, the above confirms the accepted truth that young people generally like to play games even if their specific preferences differ.

Let us continue with groups comprised of adolescents [2] – those who have begun to lose their second set of teeth and/or have begun growing hair in locations where there were previously no hair.

Interviewer: Do you like to play with toys?
T2m: Yeah. And?
E2m: Only good quality items.
O2f: I Don’t Play With Toys.
D2m: I got better things to do.
O2f: You Mean Playing With Yourself?
D2m: Shut up, green bitch.
Interviewer: What about games?
T2m: You mean holo-games?
T2f: I like holo-games.
E2m: They are rather convenient.
O2m: You Two Are Soft. Prefer To Smash Things For Real.
D2m: Haveta agree with this green thug here.
O2m: Shut Your Trap, Shortie.
E2f: And who is going to clean up and rebuild once you’re finished?
T2f: Exactly.
O2m: Be Quiet, Terran.
Interviewer: Calm down please. What if you played with each other?
O2m: Why Would I Want That?
O2f: Depends On What We Are Playing.
T2m: I suppose if we networked our platforms, we could play.
E2f: And assuming we organize to enter the game at the same time.
Interviewer: What type of holo-games?
O2m: If We Have To Play, It Would Be UniBattle 3.
O2f: That Game Is A Bit Too Much, Even For Me.
T2m: Could wait for UniBattle 4 but it’ll probably be full of bugs.
T2f: What about Formula S Racing?
E2f: I think the boys are more into killing than racing.
D2m: If you’re interesting in battle simulations, then Galactic Annihilation is better.
T2f: You’re all nuts.
D2f: Yes, they are. I mean, I’m all for a good slaughter but pick a game already.
E2f: Well, I have nothing against games but why not do something real and practical? Archery improves hand-eye coordination. Even knitting is beneficial.
O2f: Oh, You Girls Are No Fun At All.
T2f: I’m hungry.
O2f: Now That You Mention It, So Am I.
D2f: I like your earrings. My cousin has something similar, took them off someone at a LARP event last month.
T2f: Oh really, thanks. Let’s do lunch.

It can be seen that adolescents’ tastes have grown more sophisticated, at least with interactive games. T2 and D2 males were generally more enthusiastic than their female counterparts whereas E2 and O2 sexes were more comparable. This corresponds to the fact that the latter two races share a common ancestry.

Regardless of the physical and psychological differences between the sexes, there was clearly a more conscious reasoning in their choice between games in the real and virtual environment; the former for what was presumably its realness, the latter for its convenience. However, none of that entirely explains why LARP attendees do what they do and usually with much fervor.

The investigation then moved onto a LARP event. Aside from interviews, other observations such as battlefield behavior were also recorded. To this end, we followed several teams closely.

In one particular team of thirty members which contained all four races, there were nineteen male, ten female and one “other”. At the time, it was not apparent whether this individual was intersexual (medical), transsexual (personal preference or confused) or was simply being deadpan sarcastic. This individual was of Orcnean heritage and his/her appearance was atypically androgynous which further added to the mystery. We did not push for an explanation given typical Orcnean temperament. All were adults [3].

The captain of the team was Bill, a young Terran male. (All names have been changed to protect their identities.) It was immediately clear that the team were comprised of his friends and his friend’s friends. There were at least five romantically linked couples, including Bill who had an Elven girlfriend named Hortduil. The males were more vocal in their enthusiasm for the actual game than females, the latter were generally more interested in “having a good time away from home” and bonding. At least half the team members, male and female, were interested in meeting people and possibly making new friends. Thus, we have five social factors: existing friendships [F], existing romance [L], potential new friendships [N], potential new romance [X] and the (away from) home factor [H].

Of slight surprise were the preparatory efforts. Each participant designed and constructed their costumes and equipment. (We were informed that holo-costumes were forbidden.) It was not the females who paid more attention to costumes than males. Neither did the males pay more attention to their weapons than females. They all dedicated enormous attention to all their gear. So here we have the artistic factor [A]. Although less labor-intensive to purchase premade equipment, it was clear that the interest did not merely reside in the gaming itself. This explains the violently dismissive behavior of any attempt by companies to enter the LARP market with premade equipment.

Hortduil’s Terran friend Katie was constantly inebriated. Their Elven friend Trinkenduil had brought along multiple kegs of Elven beer. Cannabis was also part of the indigenous plant life which our mysterious androgynous Orc collected and prepared. E3m and E3f team members drank their beer and smoked cannabis in moderation whereas the others drank and smoked copiously. Therefore, we have two additional factors: alcohol [B] and cannabis [C].

This LARP event, like many others, involved multiple rounds over the course of one week. Each round was a different game mode like “Assault”, “Capture the Flag” or “Butcher Bowl” (which was simply Galactic Football League with guns, grenades, swords, hammers, spears and maces). The final round was the so-called main event which, in this case, was the re-creation of the Battle of TG-194. This incident occurred twenty years ago when Orcnean forces attempted to capture an Elven research lab on a Terran-held planet. The battle ended with mutual slaughter, the surviving Elven scientists holding the base simply due to them not dying although a Dwarven commando squad did turn up and took some stuff in exchange for providing protection before Elven reinforcements arrived. Event organizers worked hard to set up the game with an environment faithful to the actual location.

Bill’s team – despite being of mixed race, with a team average BAC of 0.061, half-stoned and after much deliberation – played in defence of the research lab. As expected, the Orcnean team members were a little reluctant at first. But only until the first shot was fired. The friendships within the team were evident in their teamwork. The Orcs, despite their temper, were generally cooperative, even with their Elven counterparts. Other mixed-race teams were similar. Communications during battle were as clear as can be expected. Skullsmasherar, the biggest O3m in the team, favored forceful tactics whereas Trinkenduil, their most intelligent and sober player, favored more balanced tactics. Bill as captain or Hortduil as “the captain’s sober girlfriend” often served as the deciding vote in the heat of battle.

Perhaps the most unexpected observation made was that the females never acted as a distraction for the males. This completely went against the marketing axiom “sex sells”. On a related note, at the sight of the androgynous Orc, there were noticeable expressions of confusion in other teams. Players presumably understood the inherent physical limitations of other races. For example, most E3 and O3 participants, given their general physical superiority, were quite considerate to T3 and D3 players to avoid injury even though the former two were not always as kind to each other. Another example would be that males were generally considerate to females. In this case, it was apparent that no one knew how to react to this particular Orc. As a result, he/she was quite successful at singlehandedly breaking through enemy lines or flanking enemy positions, followed by much swearing by the other side. Regardless of the original intent, he/she acted as an effective distraction.

As the battle progressed, variations of this tactic were employed by other teams. E3 pretended to be T3 and vice versa given their similar size and physiognomy. Obviously, D3 and O3 could not disguise themselves as another race due to their unique stature although they could pretend to be the opposite sex. Given the assumed physical capabilities natural to each sex, this was sometimes an effective trick. For example, Bill mistook a D3m as a D3f and got shot about twenty times. This also backfired when Trinkenduil thought an opponent was an E3m when it was a T3f. It was only when she started screaming after having been smacked across the face with a foam sword did Trinkenduil realize his error. Given both E3m and E3f hairstyles resemble T3f with long hair, this was understandable. By the end of the week, the injury rate stood at approximately 50%, all bruises and cuts consistent to blunt force trauma. The norm is about 15%.

It can be reasonably inferred that despite friendship and sportsmanship, racial prejudices from historic conflicts were present, ranging from the latent to the blatant. For example, jovial taunting was common across the field but kicks to the groin were not uncommon either. Corresponding to this were the apparent curiosity of players in historic battles. They all wished to experience it, not merely in holo-games but in live-action and only to a certain degree; that is, war action without actual mortal danger. Although there are arguably two issues here, it is possible that these battle re-creations are in part due to the aforementioned racial prejudices, a means to express and perpetuate those very views and emotions, albeit in a more civil manner. Thus, we shall simplistically combine these as the historic war factor [W].

Applying the aforementioned factors, we will now examine profitability.

The Revenue [R] raised by the sale of a particular good (or a class of goods) is simply its Sale Price [P] multiplied by the Quantity Sold [Q]:
R = P*Q

The Quantity Sold [Q] is a function of the population or, to be more specific, the proportion of the population which purchases the goods (or the class of goods):
Q = n*x
where
n is the total population
0 ≤ x ≤ 1 is the proportion of the total population

Substituting [x] and [n] into the first equation:
R = P*(n*x)

The proportion of the total population interested in LARP is a function of all the factors previously discussed:
x = 0.2*(F+L+N+X)*(B+C)*A*W*(G/H)
where
F is the existing friendship factor
L is the existing romance factor
N is the potential new friendship factor
X is the potential new romance factor
B is the alcohol factor
C is the cannabis factor
A is the artistic factor
W is the historic war factor
H is the distance from home to the LARP gaming site
G is the diameter of the galaxy
The 0.2 represents the proportion of the total population within the typical age bracket who attend LARP events.

Conclusion

The participants behave consistently to the “non-conformist” profile and are against the commercialization of their hobby, instead preferring to maintain control themselves even if it means more work. They should not be viewed as crazy anarchists who wish to binge, especially given their organizational skills and their consistent displays of teamwork even when stoned. This is further supported by the fact that when Bill’s team discovered we were consultants doing marketing research (for we initially said we were doing psychology research), the androgynous Orc responded in a lively manner. It turned out to be a “she” and she was just being a sarcastic cow the whole time.

Anyway, it is not recommended that any company enter the LARP market directly. However, it is clear that LARP players require various goods in preparation for and during the event, such as but not limited to, natural and synthetic cloth, plastic, lightweight alloys, glue, solder and laser-cutters. Quantitatively, these goods are not required continuously so once sales has reached saturation point, demand will lower. In fact, the demand will be cyclic according to the life of the goods. Other goods like fuel-cells, portable reactors and camping supplies are also required. It is recommended that the quality of such goods be not too high in order to maintain demand and therefore revenue.

Disclaimer: This consultant is not responsible for any damages caused by the implementation of any policy based on the above incomplete research. To continue the research, please ring the office and pay $4000 per hour and wait six months.

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“To Shoot/Not To Shoot” was the winner of The I/O M/F/? Award at Needle In The Hay, February 2015.