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"We Say 'Fuck You, Pay Me'": A clear and comprehensive investigation of RPG industry pay rates.

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The Unshaven

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Hi folks, Beau Sheldon - of such fantastic resources as the Script Change RPG consent and safety toolkit, the Thoughty blog that features the Five Or So Questions series about RPGs plus a bunch of other great content, and games like the forthcoming Turn: A Tabletop Game of Shapeshifters in Small Towns, plus Let Me Take a Selfie and Behind the Masc alongside others - has put together a comprehensive and clear investigation of different kinds of pay rates within the RPG industry.

Those pay rates are eye-scaldingly terrible, which is one of the reasons I've been so enthusiastic about attempts to change that happening from a number of different areas, such as people having exactly these kinds of discussions about transparency, often in response to @DungeonCommandr's call to action on twitter, and attempts to change things directly via things like the San Jenaro Co-Op.

Here's the article: "We Say 'Fuck You, Pay Me.'" It features a whole load of interviews, often anonymous to protect the people participating in them.

It digs into a lot of the details, and also highlights all of the intersectional issues surrounding the economies of RPG publishing, and explores ways people can help change things.

Well worth checking out, and represents a lot of work.
 
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g33k

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TYVM to Beau for doing this, and to you for bringing it to our (my) attention!
 

Devil's Avocado

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Excellent article.

I work as a freelance copywriter. I accept that the rates there are always going to be higher (although whether they should be with commercial companies is another question), but the RPG industry still seems low paying to the point of actively exploitative.

Part of the issue is the pay by word model. Despite it seemingly being industry standard, it's a horrible broken way of paying writers and always will be.
 

FirstWave

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I would never use a contraction. I would say big box giant discount retailer instead of Walmart.
 

Jetpack

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I showed this to my wife, as she is my point of reference being a self-published author, and she agreed with it completely. Good article!
 

Cosmic Hobo

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Nice piece. In fiction writing, namely sci-fi as that’s what I’m most familiar with, you have a professional body that governs things like pay rates. The SFWA in the US. They list different rates as professional, semi-pro, token, etc. And use those rates to determine things like membership. A few years back the SFWA upped the professional rates and many of the magazines followed suit. Not sure how or if that could translate here.

Oh, turns out they’re increasing the pro rate again in September.

For the record, I’ve freelanced for game companies. Playtested at least one game. I had several great experiences with one company and one nightmare experience with another company.

The great experience was easy to navigate, the company contact was quick to respond and answer questions, the contract was clear, word count and pay rates were clear, as was the deadline. The pay rate would have been considered pro if it were the SFWA.

The nightmare was all about the company refusing to give me a contract. Never responding to emails. Never responding to direct questions in the group chat they set up. Everything was meant to be solid with a digital smile and a handshake. Fuck no, thank you very much. The pay rate was identical to the earlier dream experience, though they were nearly 15 years apart.
 

jsnead

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In the article, the recommended per word rate for writing is: Per-Word Work: $0.10 USD/word. My reaction to this is a mixture of grim laughter and unrealistic hope. I've been writing RPGs full time for almost 25 years and I've been paid 6-6.5/word on a few projects and 8 on one (the Reign 2E kickstarter), but mostly I get 4-5/word, and I don't really expect to ever get much more than this.
 

Heavy Arms

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I would never use a contraction. I would say big box giant discount retailer instead of Walmart.
Except you don't, because if you're freelancing, you get your work set back with red-lines and get asked to do re-writes for things like this. Which means you end up doing more work for the same amount of pay in the end.
 

DavetheLost

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Good article. Now can we address what artists (don't) get paid for their work? Never, ever offer to pay an artist in "exposure".
 
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