Der Rot Konig
 member, 131 posts
 Educated Pirate
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 16:09
GM as an emergent career
I'd be very curious to see what your research reveals.  I don't know if one could actually make a living as a GM but there certainly seems to be some good arguments for at least some type of compensation.  With 25+ years of both playing and GMing experience, you kinda have my attention. :D
pdboddy
 member, 582 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 16:31
GM as an emergent career
A few more spots to check out, and follow up with people (since these are old posts)

A Reddit thread on the idea of professional GMing (from 2014):
https://www.reddit.com/r/rpg/c...g_have_you_tried_it/

And one from RPG.net forums (from 2009):
https://forum.rpg.net/showthre...to-run-your-Campaign

Same person, seems his GM for hire business crashed and burned: https://forum.rpg.net/showthre...math-and-Revelations

I think a few years later he tried again, not sure, you'd have to read through the search results: https://forum.rpg.net/tags.php?tag=gamemaster-for-hire

There should be some good information in there, if you wanted to do some reading before hunting down the GMs who gave it a go.

EDIT: And a search result for Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/search?q=GM+for+hire

There's some good ones in there too.

This message was last edited by the user at 16:36, Mon 27 Nov.

Martel
 member, 13 posts
 D&D, Free-form, Original,
 and Fandom-based RP
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 16:55
GM as an emergent career
All good advice, though I choke at the price, admittedly. $5 per person x 7 people = $35. /4 = minimum wage. Ten is a slight improvement, assuming you can get enough groups going at once (and cut down on prep time, as suggested) to make it worthwhile. It would have to replace at least some measure of income, or it'd be moot; the whole point (IMO) is to free up time so the GMing can climb to another level (though, that being said... either of these price points + marketed products could = a seriously viable income doing what one loves to do, and doing it well, for the delight of many).

Regarding some of those links, I didn't know anything about that. I'll have to look into it. I've heard stories going back 15+ years about GMs making a living at things, but they were weird, urban-myth style tales, like a group of wealthy individuals paying a woman to serve as their GM full-time, paying for her house, etc... sounded a bit sketchy, and more than halfway to a Chick Tract really.

Anybody else know anything about Ghost Orb? Around the same time, like 10+ years back, was supposedly a VTT with built-in pay-to-play support.

This message was last edited by the user at 16:59, Mon 27 Nov.

MalaeDezeld
 member, 40 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:11
GM as an emergent career
Angry GM had an article on the subject: GMing For Love or Money.

He is pointing out that some of gm are not getting paid by the players but by a third party; by ads revenue on youtube, because they have a job to entertain people and they do it with rpg. Critical Role is one of those.

And for those that are paid by the players, they must compete with every one of us that do it for free and for fun.

quote:
I'm interested in learning where professional GMs might recruit players (here?)

I don't remember much about the older thread on the question, link to a message in this forum but I remember that the moderators told that it was against rpol policies to recruit here.
pdboddy
 member, 583 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:25
GM as an emergent career
In reply to MalaeDezeld (msg # 12):

There's nothing in that thread you linked about recruiting per se, only that you can not use RPoL to organize a game for pay.

So you could advertise in the off site forum to recruit players for a game off site, the game just has to be free.

So while that would not work for someone working under a $X dollars per hour/player GM-for-hire scheme, you could do so for a Twitch/YouTube stream, where the players play for free, and the GM gets whatever $$ he can make from advertising/tips.

At least, that's how I read it.  The mods will correct me if I am wrong.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:26, Mon 27 Nov.

Martel
 member, 15 posts
 D&D, Free-form, Original,
 and Fandom-based RP
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:34
GM as an emergent career
There are definitely multiple viewpoints worth considering. I don't think "for the love of the game" is a bad way to do things; if you're set otherwise, and you're satisfied with your performance, and 4-6 people are likewise enjoying themselves in your adventures a couple of times a month, I'd say that's fantastic. At that point, I don't think it's competition at all, not in any greater sense. I tended to join groups by virtue of "hey, look, I found a D&D group in the midst of people doing this other thing I'm involved in," there was never much by way of comparing the merits of one group to those of another.

It's just another factor in whether or not to sit with a given GM.

(Hypothetical) I play with Jeff; he doesn't charge. Except, he could, and I would absolutely understand. He chooses not to. I appreciate that. I also play with Anna, who charges $10/person per session. She is also an excellent GM. Jeff could easily get away with charging that; the fact that he doesn't, doesn't impugn Anna. That's his choice. He doesn't wave it around, or suggest that he's a better GM for not charging. Like Anna, he's just interested in running games.

Then, there's Charlie. Charlie provides snacks and drinks, and doesn't charge a cent, but I don't like his games. Everything devolves into an arena. Three of his regular players are rules lawyers, and he panders to them, so they end up running the game. Their characters are overpowered. There was a storyline involved, at first, but that was 3 years ago, and they've yet to bother pursuing it.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:45, Mon 27 Nov.

bigbadron
 moderator, 15472 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:46
GM as an emergent career
In reply to pdboddy (msg # 13):

You can not use RPoL to earn money.  And you can't advertise something here that earns you money, and that includes advertising something that you do (in theory) for free, then earn cash by, for example, streaming it.

Trying to do so will see your ad removed, and (possibly) your posting privileges on this site along with it.

Hopefully that's all clear.
Martel
 member, 17 posts
 D&D, Free-form, Original,
 and Fandom-based RP
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:54
GM as an emergent career
I'm not sure how a person would go about streaming a game that's based on RPoL.

Admittedly, I'm not the most ingenious person, but play-by-post doesn't seem like the best platform for a commercial GM. So, good choice of mediums, there.
pdboddy
 member, 584 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:57
GM as an emergent career
In reply to Martel (msg # 16):

No, I was not talking about streaming RPoL.  I was talking about advertising in the "Off Site" forum for a game one would be streaming elsewhere.
pdboddy
 member, 585 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 17:57
GM as an emergent career
In reply to bigbadron (msg # 15):

Yep, that's clear. :)
Akain
 member, 2 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 18:13
GM as an emergent career
I would say that a good GM could easily up their price to $20-25 per person, per game, when it came to one-shots. Heck, I would happily pay that even if I didn't know whether the GM was good or not. I am not so sure about a long-running campaign, however. $20-25, looking at a weekly game, would come up to $80-100 a month, which could pay for a year's worth access to Netflix, or whatever else you want to compare it to.

And then there is an issue, going off of the "Charlie" example - his group is what I would be afraid of, had I been a potential paying player. Would I want to invest $80-100 a month and end up in a group whose biggest joy was going around and groping NPCs? Would it be worth it to pay a fifth of my earnings (low-income country here) to have a chance for ten minutes of roleplay in a group of number crunching, "I stab it with my sword" players?

Of course, there would always be people to willing to pay for you to run a game at a high price, but you cannot be sure of how long they will stay with you, and if they will leave satisfied with your services (colored by their impressions of the entire group, most likely).

I just feel like short form works better with paid content, at least initially, for the sake of getting the word out, and perhaps finding returning customers who are not problematic and could be willing to play in something long-term.

Anyway, I might be projecting too much of my personal feelings into this. I do believe however that GMing as a career would take a lot of time, thought and effort to become a self-sustainable source of income, but it's definitely doable.
pdboddy
 member, 586 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 18:29
GM as an emergent career
One thing I see brought up by paid GMs as a reason for paying for their services is:

quote:
This money gives me time to prepare good NPCs with interesting background, nice scenes with different outcomes, give better handouts...


I find this a bit of a head-scratcher at times.  I get that there is prepwork involved with running a roleplaying game, but wouldn't it be in your interest to give your players good NPCs with interesting backgrounds, nice scenes with different outcomes and good handouts?  Like, do people not do this anyways?

I mean, if you have bad scenes, you're going to lose players.  If you don't have different possible outcomes, you're railroading.  If your NPCs aren't interesting, your players will stop interacting with them.  Handouts are helpful if you have a custom world, or a heap of houserules, and so on.
facemaker329
 member, 6972 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 19:13
GM as an emergent career
I think the question that needs to be asked, with regards to this, is, 'Would I pay a GM to play in their game?'  Or, going with the alternative model, 'Would I volunteer to be a player in a game that the GM was streaming for pay?'

I agree that being a GM is a lot of work...but I've always approached gaming as a hobby, and I have pretty limited funds to commit to hobbies.  That said, there are a lot of people out there who spend ridiculous amounts of money on things that I'd never put money into, so I freely admit to being an anomaly, of sorts.  And unless I was already good friends with the GM, I'd feel pretty 'used' if I was part of a monetized streaming cast of a game and didn't see any return on it, myself.  I could see being involved if it was a group pf my friends...or if it had been going on long enough that I knew I'd enjoy the style of the game.  The tricky thing, I suppose, would be getting a group (or groups) together for a long enough period to build a reputation for running an enjoyable game.
Martel
 member, 19 posts
 D&D, Free-form, Original,
 and Fandom-based RP
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 19:37
GM as an emergent career
In reply to pdboddy (msg # 20):

The more time you have to put into a game, the better it's going to be.
drewalt
 member, 82 posts
Tue 28 Nov 2017
at 01:56
GM as an emergent career
I have my own take on this:

If automation really comes to be as powerful and prominent as some say it's going to be (which is a big if, silicon can only be carved so fine, quantum computing is limited by decoherence, and the singularity is not guaranteed, but let's run with it) and puts more and more people out of a job, there's plenty of people who are doom and gloom who think humans are going to be obsolete like horses.

However what they forget is humans have many forms of utility.  As the cost of more essential services like farming or accounting or programming or whatever falls, the demand for more information, esoteric niche goods and services, luxury goods and more personal services could increase.  Case in point, we already have people who play games (both physical and electronic) for exorbitant salaries, and we even have people who literally open toys for a living.

If someone can open toys for a living, why not professional Gamemasters?  For that matter, why not professional players eventually, continuing the same thought?

I myself have a pact with a gaming friend of mine that if either of us ever wins a massive windfall, we will award the other 3% of the balance to ensure the financial independence of the other so we can devote ourselves to our hobbies and the hobbies we share are more fun with each other.  It's a half-joke because the probability of this is basically zero, but I would seriously honor it.

What's really the difference between that and professional gaming?
Yaztromo
 member, 123 posts
Tue 28 Nov 2017
at 02:00
GM as an emergent career
My humble contribution:
http://www.enworld.org/forum/c...ssional-Game-Masters
http://www.enworld.org/forum/s...essional-Game-Master
http://www.enworld.org/forum/s...l-GM-Possible-Return
Rinandien
 member, 45 posts
 Have fun,
 help others.
Tue 28 Nov 2017
at 09:30
GM as an emergent career
As I stumbled upon few YouTube channels held by GMs that seek to share their knowledge experience, it comes as an intersection on "learning the craft" and "making money", so if teaching is something you would attempt and can offer some new insights, that might be the way to go. You have an audience of both players and GMs that might be willing to donate to your Patreon, and once things pick up you can switch to something more akin to Critical Role. Or find people willing to bid enough to get private games with you.

Either way, look for "How to be a Great Game Master" and "Taking20" if you want to see how it looks, they are the two that I found most interesting and best presented.
Tileira
 member, 517 posts
Tue 28 Nov 2017
at 21:24
GM as an emergent career
This is an interesting question.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who would pay a subscription fee to a play-by-post site, if quality was assured from GM staff rather than it just being a fee to keep the site running.

I would also be happy with paying a tabletop GM a contribution for materials: print outs, food and drink or whatever.

And I would be happy paying an entry fee to a one-shot event.

So I think I would pay to participate in a campaign run by a professional GM. I'm not sure I would pay enough each week for them to make a living off of a group of 4-6.

Maybe to make it work a professional GM would need to provide several different services to different audiences.
praguepride
 member, 1222 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Fri 1 Dec 2017
at 05:03
GM as an emergent career
Huh...I've been paid to be a GM albeit in very special situations.

I run custom LARPs at GenCon off and on, year after year and we sometimes charged a premium above and beyond the basic entry fee that GenCon takes but what we brought to the table was props and freebies.

So we definitely lost money on the event but creating custom props (we made a giant model of the death star out of foam one year for a silly tongue-and-cheek game called Tarkin's Grand Ball :P

Recently my buddies made a giant recreation of Gotham City for a big Batman villain's taking over Gotham game.

ANYWAY I would never pay a stranger to run a game. Things like NPCs and rule knowledge are easy enough to come by. I WOULD, however, drop $10 a session if he came with amazing painted minis and cool maps.

Let's be honest, if you want to do a GOOD minis RPG it cost mucho dinero however once you have them, if you can turn around and use them game after game after game then you can provide a huge production value win for casual players for a very reasonable fee. $10-20 a person for mood music, lighting, miniatures AND a GM is something I'd be willing to consider.

On a side note a friend of mine always wanted to be a professional DM but ended up getting work at an escape room instead. He said it's a pretty similar feeling however you don't get to interact nearly as much with the players as he would like to.
icosahedron152
 member, 817 posts
Fri 1 Dec 2017
at 07:51
GM as an emergent career
I don't think I would ever want to GM for money. Certainly I'd like to earn money and enjoy myself at the same time, but in my experience those two things are mutually exclusive.

My concern would be that players who are paying a GM would become overly expectant and demanding, would see themselves as 'employers', and the whole thing would rapidly degenerate into a chore. Possibly even doing permanent damage to my enjoyment of gaming.

I'm better off GMing for fun and remaining a wage-slave to people I'm free to abhor. :)
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1239 posts
Fri 1 Dec 2017
at 15:01
GM as an emergent career
Well, perhaps you are looking at it wrong. Instead of seeing yourself as changing to become what the players demand, instead, see your style of GMing as what they are paying for, and if they don't like what you provide, then they can go find another GM.

In truth, this (in moderation) is what it should be anyway. If there is one thing I know about people, it is that they tend to ask for one thing, thinking it'll gain them something else. But that is generally wrong, and it is mot so rare that getting exactly what they ask for is fun for 5 minutes before getting boring.

In fact, there is about 3 cheat codes across all games that I can use without dropping the game for years after enjoying a single session, two of them are basically short term boosts (a bit of sxtra cash or faster build rates), while they other simply changes textures making it an interesting challange to see things correctly.

So, as a GM, you can't simply hand out things the players ask for, as they'll play for a short term then demand a new novelty to chase. But if you step back from what they say they want, you can figure out how to give them a good time they will actually enjoy over and over again.
praguepride
 member, 1224 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Fri 1 Dec 2017
at 19:08
GM as an emergent career
Also I would be very surprised if people paid for a GM and wanted a monty haul.

THEN AGAIN what I think they want first and foremost is FUN. I had a GM buddy in high school that ended up running a monty haul game. They were a star wars game and ended up with a star trek style ship that was powered by thermal detonators that they commissioned after killing Boba Fett...

On the surface, that sounded like the dumbest most giveaway game I had ever heard and I still roll my eyes at the stuff the players got away with. They just bulldozed through everything and basically became the single handed heroes of the rebellion and got their own planets at the end of the campaign...

BUT

if you talk to any one of them now, they all get that wistful look in their eyes as they talk about how amazing and fantastic that game was. They still talk about how awesome it was that they crit-killed Boba Fett or that they had this unique starship that let them cruise around the galaxy in style.

While I might not be amused by that, every one of his players were. They all agree it was dumb but they had so much FUN doing it they don't care.

Some players want the tactical challenge. Some people want a dark and gritty campaign where just survival is a struggle with your wits and skills against a dark and unforgiving world. Others want fun Hobbit style adventures where the gold comes fast and loose and you can conquer most challenges with fun instead of fireballs.

A good GM (especially a paid GM) should cater to his audience, imo.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1240 posts
Sat 2 Dec 2017
at 03:11
GM as an emergent career
quote:
A good GM (especially a paid GM) should cater to his audience, imo.


Indeed, but you should choose your audience such that catering to them fits your style of play and is fun for you. If you try to go too far outside your own style to fit just anyone who happens along, that is when it'll become chore and no longer fun.
Yaztromo
 member, 127 posts
Sat 2 Dec 2017
at 03:21
GM as an emergent career
In reply to DarkLightHitomi (msg # 31):

That's why you ask for money to do it, or not?
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1241 posts
Sat 2 Dec 2017
at 04:20
GM as an emergent career
If I ask for money to gm, it'll be because I can't afford to take a day off work otherwise (I work seven days a week) and getting paid lets me skip a day to run the game. Additionally, I see a gm as beinb worthy of getting paid when they can do the job well. Most gms I've played with are only at a basic level of competency, some even look to gming as a way to tell a predetermined storh with no flexibility for what the players might do. A gm worth a paycheck should be at an advanced level at least, and be more capable and competent than a gm that just picked up the DMG one day and figured on giving it whirl with no understanding of how to do it justice.

Alternatively, a gm that brings something unique and enjoyable. Robin Williams' style of doing voices with appropriate characterization for example.