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What, if any, careers are there out there that are built around playing role-playing games for a living? That is, jobs which go beyond supporting the addiction ;)

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closed as too broad by SevenSidedDie, DuckTapeAl, KRyan, SnakeDr68, wax eagle Apr 6 '15 at 20:35

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Comment discussion regarding question appropriateness deleted, mod ruling: this site's scope is not limited to simply "playing." Other industry questions have been ruled OK, it's "about" roleplaying, and I don't see any slippery slope here. The question is in scope. – mxyzplk Dec 1 '10 at 0:56
related/possible duplicate: Roleplaying as a job. Skills and background? – yhw42 Dec 3 '10 at 5:41
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Actually playing RPGs, none. Even being a game designer/writer is a side gig for most people and not a predominant source of income. There are a small number of jobs where you might get a full time salary in the RPG industry or related.

Most likely: clerk at a game store (assuming you don't have a lot of bills) Similarly, working for a distributor. Working for one of the ~10 game companies with permanent staff - you generally need to be an established name who's worked as a freelancer for years to make that work as a designer/writer, or know someone as a warehouse/computer/other support person.

None of those entail actually playing the games, except as a still somewhat on the side thing as a designer/writer working for WotC or Paizo or something. But while someone might pay you for selling or writing, no one actually pays you for playing. Playtesting is 100% volunteer. One guy in New York IIRC tried to make a go of it as a for-pay gamemaster but it never worked.

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Is there an industry around organizing gaming events, maybe, or maybe LARP type games with a purpose (such as publicity stunts for companies)? – blueberryfields Nov 30 '10 at 20:18
Probably not in the sense he's talking about. Companies have "roleplaying exercises" in the sense of negotiating techniques and the like, not "throw beanbags at people" LARPing. There are newer "LARPs on crack as marketing stunts" known as ARGs... But that's way outside tabletop. – mxyzplk Dec 1 '10 at 0:54
Wasn't there a guy at WotC which was sent to schools to DM for kids? I'm not sure how often he did that, compared to his other assignments. – o0'. Apr 24 '14 at 15:12

Actually playing RPGS:

  1. work for Mongoose or one of the other 2nd tier design houses that requires their designers play in-house. Expect long hours, relatively low pay, short deadlines, and much fan-hate. Plus mandatory after hours games.
  2. Find a rich person with money to spare, become their GM, and convince them to support their GM. Perhaps even marry them (if legal in your locality).
  3. Win the lotto (yeah, right) or otherwise become stupidly wealthy so you don't have to work.

Putting your love of them to financial benefit:

  1. Develop good writing skills, and write subsidiary novels. Not great, but it's made Weiss and Hickman comfortably wealthy...
  2. Develop good writing skills and use your gaming to inspire your novels. It worked for Cole and Bunch (Sten), and GRR Martin (Wild Cards). (Jerry Pournelle and Tom Clancy were wargamers... worked for them, too.)
  3. Develop good writing skills, and write a successful game. You'll be broke, but them's the breaks. If you get it all just right, tho', you might make a comfortable living for a short while. (Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, E. Gary Gygax, Greg Porter, Greg Stafford, Mike Pondsmith, etc.)
  4. Write a successful gaming blog and sell adverts.
  5. Develop a successful gaming forum, and sell adverts. (Aldie of Boardgame Geek)
  6. Get a degree in something, and teach a community ed course on Role Playing Games.
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You've asked above whether there's an industry in writing roleplaying games for business. There is, of a sort. Here are some options around that.

  1. Train as an actor. Work as a roleplayer, playing roles for training and recruitment events. (This is one of the things I do for a living).
  2. Train as an occupational psychologist. Write the roleplays listed above.
  3. Work for a company that writes games for businesses, such as Six to Startbusiness simulations.
  4. Start your own company. Write business simulations. Persuade businesses to buy them. (Try Googling "business simulations" and you'll find some examples of this.)

Now, realistically, none of those are straightforward career paths. I wouldn't advise pursuing any of them exclusively. Furthermore, none of them are much like roleplaying games.

However, there is money in business simulations, so make of that what you will.

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I've heard of professional GMs who charge money to run games. I've never heard of professional GMs making a sustainable profit. It would probably be a decent part time or supplemental job though.

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The few I've known have been "paid" in room and board, plus some spending cash. (this was about 1990; the two guys I know doing so got about $50/week in spending cash, and were running 2 nights a week, plus getting room and board.) – aramis Dec 2 '10 at 7:08
Wow. How did they get the room-and-board portion of the deal? Another addict was housing them? – blueberryfields Dec 2 '10 at 23:41
I've heard of paid GMs, but its alwasy been the "friend of a friend" sort of thing so I can't personally confirm. Even in those stories/rumors it was a side gig for someone that got their main income some other way. – TimothyAWiseman Jan 29 '13 at 20:30

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