member, 1 post
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 12:53
GM as an emergent career
I'm writing an article about becoming a GM as a career choice.

I'm interested in training programs. Certification. College courses.

I'm interested in learning where professional GMs might recruit players (here?) and how they might advertise their services and how they might establish their credibility.

I'm interested in the economics of it all. Can you really support yourself that way?

Is it reasonable to say that 10 years from now being a GM could be a real career, and you might get a degree or certificate in the discipline, and players might be willing to pay for the services of a professional GM, much as they pay to see a movie or a play or a rodeo?

My wife is a GM with more than 10 years of experience and has never considered a pay-to-play arrangement. However, players have "tipped" her resources that she could use in-game. It is not unusual for her to spend 10 or even 20 hours between Saturday night gaming sessions creating maps and characters and contingencies in her story.

She says there is a very small community of very experienced GMs who charge a reasonable fee to participating players in exchange for the time and expertise involved in managing a game.

I'd like to speak with anyone who has relevant insights or experience about all of this.

Thanks very much.
 member, 579 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 13:24
GM as an emergent career
I've seen this come up in the RPG.net forums before.  They were generally kind to the person asking, but scoffed at the idea of someone charging for their DM services, or even making money at it.


That's a recent article on Wired magazine.  It is possible to be a professional GM.

Critical Roll is another GM success story.

Professional GMs can recruit players from many sources.  RPol.net, RPG.net, Google+, Facebook, Roll20.net, Twitch, Discord... anywhere you find people gathering to play RPGs, you will find a potential recruitment ground for players.  You can advertise in the same places.

I am unaware of any training programs or certified college courses, but eh, that's possible in the future.  It might exist now, but you'd have to go looking.

Supporting yourself?  It depends on how you do it, I think.  If you go the way of Critical Roll, and regularly stream on Twitch and YouTube, you can make a living off of it.  But it's like anything else you do on Twitch or YouTube, you have to build your audience.  It's not guaranteed, it's not easy, and it will likely take a bit of time to work up both a reliable pool of players and a consistent (and paying) audience.

If you go the way of hiring out your services, where the players are paying you (not an audience), then you are looking at an uphill battle, I think, it'll be much harder than going the digital route.  If you are not willing to travel, then you have to have the space to have players come to you, and have all the requirements that entails (bathroom space, accessibility, food sources nearby, parking, etc.).

May I suggest that you go to Roll20.net, make yourself an account, and then look through the LFG (looking for group) forum?  Look for the paid GMs, and send them PMs.  Of the ones I know, I am pretty sure you'll find some who'll happily speak about their experiences.  I can recommend a few, but I am at work and cannot get there from here currently.  I can do so when I return home.  You can reply here or send me a private message.
 member, 2 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 13:51
GM as an emergent career
Hey, thanks 10^6.

I like the Wired story, though there's a bemused subtext - Can you believe grownups actually do this? - that I find kind of offputting. Still, it's well-written.

I am thinking of taking a more how-to approach for advanced players who never considered the idea of actually making a living doing something they love as much as gaming. And I'll focus on online RPGs.

My wife GMs online RPGs at Roll20.net - I'll see if she can help me track down some of the paid GMs you mention. I'd be grateful if you PM'd me names when you have an opportunity.

Thanks again.
 member, 580 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 14:24
GM as an emergent career
You're very welcome. :)  I'll help you out as best I can.

I have an interest in this, as I am planning on giving the "gm as a career" thing a go.
 member, 1237 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 15:05
GM as an emergent career
I'd be interested in anything you find.

There is a variant to this idea that I'm planning on doing, running classes teaching how to be a better GM.

I'll probably run this on Saturday nights on discord.
 member, 12 posts
 D&D, Free-form, Original,
 and Fandom-based RP
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 15:32
GM as an emergent career
I've considered doing the same; I write blog posts for a living, and have thought about doing this for a portfolio piece.

I'm all for the idea. The more you put into it, the more GMing improves. I've put 20+ hours into a given game session twice a month, and not been happy with the results. By comparison, I'm satisfied with the quality of a two-hundred-dollar article in about four hours, although that would likewise benefit from more time.

The market, in far less varied and demanding areas of expression, seems to accept a game session's worth of work on a weekly basis (as it typically manifests now) as being more than worthy of maintaining a simple lifestyle in itself.

I've heard other viewpoints, which I can't dismiss out of hand. For instance, an accomplished GM almost certainly has a moderately organized library of quality homemade resources, which online stores will allow them to sell for profit. It's a much more progressive way to make money, earning $1 a pop from thousands of people per item. Make something good, and it would completely blow away what you could expect to receive from a group of 4-6 players. I think my best work to date is totally worth a few hundred dollars per game session, but that kind of price would make it exclusive and inaccessible.

I'd be interested in talking, and in helping in any way I can. :)
 member, 1 post
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 16:00
GM as an emergent career
Mostly in response to Martel;

I have seen people monetize running Adventurers' League games for D&D 5e, online. That model seems to work well for them in the sense that they have official, pre-written adventures, and after a few times of running a module, they practically start to know it by heart, thus reducing their prep time. I've seen people run two or three 4-hour-long modules a day, at a reasonably low price point of $5-10 per person, per adventure (AL allows for between 4 and 7 players at the table), and the player slots usually fill up within ten, fifteen minutes. So if I were to give any advice, it is not to run long lasting homebrewed campaigns UNLESS you can run them for multiple groups (saving on your prep time), but to run either short-term adventures or one-shot modules, or things that have been pre-written. Just makes more sense from a business standpoint, even if it's not a completely unique experience for the paying player.
 member, 581 posts
Mon 27 Nov 2017
at 16:05
GM as an emergent career
In reply to Akain (msg # 7):

Yeah, I would have to say that the quicker way to getting things monitized is to do one-shots.  I think a good end goal would be a regular campaign or two, with one-shots mixed in between during the week.  You get some regularity with the longer campaign, and fresh material and faces with one shots.
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