Some people were curious why we would consider such a thing, given that the hobby has been around for over three decades and there's been no great effort to professionalize it. So I thought I'd chat a bit about what we think are valid reasons for doing so. Here's our thinking:
Gamemastering is Hard Work and GM's Deserve Something For It
When Money Is Involved The Quality of the Event Goes Up
Yet still, the games, we think, are not really as great as they could be. And we suspect that if we bring money into the equation then suddenly the quality in fact will change for the better. Now people get serious. You mean I'm paying for this? Oh now I care. Now my fellow Players better get here on time. Now the GM better be prepared. Now I give a damn about what is going on and I don't want to waste time on my cell phone. And so on. We believe that everything improves as soon as money gets involved because then, and only then (pretty much), does everyone actually have skin in the game. And it makes a big difference. Money = Higher Quality Gaming. A theory. But we think it will turn out to be true.
Improvement of the Art
RPGs as the new 21st century art form. And it would be awesome! I'm convinced of that.
Can it work? Let's Do the Pro-GM Math
But how can Gamesmasters make the kind of money necessary to make this happen? Enough to actually devote themselves to Gamesmastering as a career? Instead of speculating, lets do the math.
I need $1000 / week to pay my rent and live comfortably, and save some money for retirement. Ok. How many games at what price would I need to charge my Players to work that out?
If I charge $5 / hour per Player and I had 5 Players per game, I would need to GM 40 hours per week to make $1000 / week. Do those numbers seem completely crazy to you? They don't to me. It seems doable. You can even tweak the yellow values to get different balances according to your needs and preferences. But your goal would be to achieve the $ needed / week in any case. I'll tweak mine a bit again because I figure I want to have enough between game prep time. So I want to play only 20 hours per week. What does that look like? I merely need to either increase my hourly fee to $10 / hour, or I need to have 10 Players per game. Conversely, I could nuance it further and charge a little more and have a few more Players per game...
So what I'm showing here is that Gamesmasters could possibly make a decent living if they could muster up 7 Players per game and play 20 hours per week, if they charge $7.14 / hour per Player. For me this would mean I'd run 4 games of 5 hours each per week. I could do two on the weekend, and two in the evenings during the week. Does that sound doable to you? It does to me. Does it sound easy? No, not really. Presently with the current tools available GMing is a time intensive activity, and it's not all just airy fairy sitting around thinking about what kinds of castles and monsters are around. It's tough grinding grunt work planning for a Campaign. There's a lot of stats and a lot of number crunching and record keeping involved. And there aren't very good tools around to help with it. Yet.
Tools of the Trade
I'd want to have a bunch of professional quality tools to make my life as Gamesmaster as easy as possible, of course, so that I could streamline the prepping of my games down to a bare minimum of time so I could focus on the fun stuff - the castles and monsters and all that airy fairy stuff I really enjoy. If we had such tools would this now sound more doable? It does to me.
Tools of this kind are on the way, and some already exist, at least in their infancy-form. If you consider the possibilities of Virtual Table Top Systems such as Roll20... the feasibility presents itself as within striking range. Not 100% there at the moment, but coming along, and showing promise. And with a better improved set of tools it could be that supporting the number of Play Hours needed to make a living on GMing might be all the more feasible. There would be more to it than just that, of course, and I'm not factoring in additional costs such as taxes and advertizing. I'm merely showing that the math indicates that there's a possibility to make a living Gamesmastering, if you can make the arrangements for it with enough Players and can schedule enough hours at the right price.
Just some thoughts for you folks. There will be more thoughts coming along soon on this topic as things move forward. We're working on a Website for Professional Gamemasters now, and hopefully we will have something to show for the effort soon.
So let me ask - If you could manage to make a career out of Gamemastering somehow, would you want to do it?
By the way, if you are interested in contributing to the thought processing, planning, and implementation of this concept, and you feel you have something to offer in the way of experience, knowledge, or enthusiastic support ... do drop by our Professional Gamemaster Society Community and give a holler. We're looking for bright and engaged members to help put this all together and actually make something happen. I will periodically be posting here regarding our progress.
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