The Profitable GM: Dreams & Nightmares

Can you make money from gaming?

Lets face it. We love RPGs, we love playing RPGs. The idea of a job where we get paid to do what we love is very appealing. I live in Nottingham, home for the last thirty years of Citadel Miniatures / Games Workshop. About half the people I’ve ever played with in Nottingham have worked for Games Workshop because if you are gamer in Nottingham it sounds great to be working at the UK’s largest games company.

The reality is something else. Everyone I know who has ever worked for GW has also left, mostly they were fired or made redundant. Games Workshop have a very poor reputation when it comes to employee relations generally and it appears that they take advantage of gamer’s desire to work for a games company. Many a bright, young gamer has worked long hours in a GW shop in the faint hope of one day ending up in product design.

This problem is not just limited to Games Workshop. Many GMs would jump at the chance to have a scenario published and the more astute ones will be sending off submissions to every games magazine and company they can think off. The lucky ones will even start to earn money from it and enjoy it until they realise what a chore it has become. Writing earns very little and it is a very competitive environment. When you have spent hours getting something finished for a deadline and then realise you can make more money stacking shelves on minimum wage, then some of the magic is lost.

Seth Godin, one of the leading thinkers on marketing, has something to say on this subject:

Today, there are more ways than ever to share your talents and hobbies in public. And if you’re driven, talented and focused, you may discover that the market loves what you do. That people read your blog or click on your cartoons or listen to your mp3s. But, alas, that doesn’t mean you can monetize it, quit your day job and spend all day writing songs.

The pitfalls:
1. In order to monetize your work, you’ll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars
2. Attention doesn’t always equal significant cash flow.

From: Maybe you can’t make money doing what you love

You can game for money or love the game but you can’t do both

Is it possible to a profitable GM without ruining your love for the game? I think it is, depending what you understand by ‘profitable’. Over the coming weeks and months I will be running a series of articles on The Profitable GM ranging in subject from the ethics of making money from a hobby to a ten step plan on how to increase your search engine traffic. Until then, keep loving the game.