Nerdarchy on Professional Gamemastering

My comments are below the video but I will post them here as well.

There are a bunch of different models for Professional Gamemastering. The one discussed the single one that I think is the least likely to succeed, or rather the hardest to make succeed – Gamemasters charging their players. Other models are likely to be more lucrative, and more plausible. For example, running education-oriented games for kids where their parents pay. Another is running games for people in hospitals. Another is running GM-Player Troop live streamed where the audience pays. Etc. Which isn’t to say that GM’s charging Players to pay can’t work. It can. If you charge $6 / hour / player and you play 4 groups of 6 players for 5 hour games each week you pull in $720 per week, or $2,880 per month. For some people in some situations that might be a livable wage, depending on your expenses. You can also play around with those numbers until you find the amount of money you need to live, and set that up – IF you can set that up (ie find enough players willing to pay your fee consistently). But even so, that’s a lot of GMing per week, right? Well that comes to 20 hours / week. If you did 40 hours per week it would be double that and you’d be earning $5,760 / month. That’s a lot of GMing work and doesn’t account for prep time, but those are the numbers you can play with.

However, you also have to deal with the political fall out of lots of players and even some GMs getting on your case and saying “you shouldn’t be charging for GMing – it’s wrong!” and making a big stink about it. Of course some people have tough skin and for them the obvious answer to that criticism is to tell such people to STFU and mind their own business. On the other hand I can understand the player’s beef with it. If you get a service for free, that’s always been free, that you like but don’t want to pay for, you’re going to resent seeing that some people starting to charge for it. You’re going to think that your own GM will suddenly catch the bug and start charging. And you’ll hate that. Even if it’s totally worth it, and even if the GM totally deserves to get paid because of the amount of work he or she puts into prepping and creating their world. You’ll resent it, and you’ll argue against it saying that it’s morally wrong to do that kind of thing because “It’s supposed to be for free”. I get why they are arguing that. I don’t agree with it, but that’s a different matter. At least their arguments have a basis in logic. They don’t want to have to start paying for something they currently get for free. Yep. Get it.

As for me, I’ve done Professional GMing. It was huge fun, and I made good money at it. Very good. But I also put in a huge amount of work into my games, and made it worth the money. I ran games for kids, though, so the parents paid, not the players. I think that is a sensible model because everyone gets something out of it, and the economics of it work, and there were absolutely no complaints. It was, in fact, totally awesome. However, as a programmer / analyst by day, I can make a LOT more money doing my day job than what I could make as Pro-GM, so as glorious as it was, it still can’t match my day job. So there you have it. I stick with my day job.

I totally encourage Professional Gamemastering, and as founder of the Professional Gamemastering Society I want to be clear on this point: There’s a lot of potential here. But the one with the absolute hardest success path is the one being most discussed. That’s because it’s the most controversial. But again, it can be made to work, but you’d be very hard pressed to get rich at it. It’s a gig economy, and you really can’t charge that much to most players and you only have so many hours per day, and can only manage so many people at a table.

The one with the most promise is the audience based one. I’m going to be working towards that in the future, if I can manage to swing it because that’s where the money is.

As for people paying celebrity GMs … yeah, for the tiny number of celebrity GMs out there, they could do that, and make maybe a $500 per game. But most people interested in Professional GMing aren’t celebrities. They’re just good enough at what they do to see the value in it and want to charge accordingly for their time. Because we all know – GMing takes a lot of time and time = $. Einstein proved that.


About vbwyrde

I am a RPG GamesMaster of my own long standing homebrew system named Elthos RPG. In order to facilitate my game play I programmed a web application named The Mythos Machine which is features on the website. It is designed to help GameMaster the Elthos RPG. It's been a great project and I hope it will garner interest in the community of GamesMasters.
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