It’s sad to say, but some people should most definitely not pursue a freelance game design career. Are you one of those people?
When a publisher contracts you for a job, he is not just buying your talent. Being good at your job is important, but equally important are your attitude and motivations.
I’ve previously talked about why you should take a stab at freelancing. Now it’s time to talk about the reasons why you shouldn’t.
- You Want to Earn a Decent Wage: I’m sure some folk earn good money in the roleplaying game industry. The vast majority of freelancers don’t earn enough money to live on. However, freelancing can be a source of some nice extra money, but it is very unlikely to put a roof over your head or food on the table for your family.
- To Prove Your GM Wrong: Perhaps you wanted to use a new feat or spell you’d designed and your GM said no because he didn’t think it was balanced. Getting it published by a 3PP and then telling your GM “it must be good – look it’s in print” is not a good reason to freelance.
- You Think People are Gaming Wrong: You know the right way to play and your amazing designs will convince them all of their mistake. They are fools and it is up to you to show them how to do it properly. I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. At the end of the day, if people game and have fun they are doing it correctly. Get over it, move on and focus on providing exciting, compelling content.
- Fame and Adulation: It’s cool to see your stuff in print. Personally, I love to hear about people enjoying Raging Swan Press’s adventures and sourcebooks. However, at least at the start, you are unlikely to be invited to conventions as a VIP. People are unlikely to queue up to meet you and sadly, you probably won’t get too many free drinks.
- You Don’t Take Criticism Well: Even if you are the best writer in the world, some people will hate your work. Others won’t like it. (Don’t believe me? Check out the Amazon reviews of your favourite books – I bet they have some one-star reviews). Some of the people who don’t like your work will write reviews. If you can’t cope with that, don’t freelance. Other people will provide constrictive criticism – if you can’t accept that, don’t freelance.
- You Don’t Play Anymore: If you don’t play the game anymore, you can’t really write well for it. Playing a game gives you a great sense of what works and what doesn’t, what is interesting and fun and what isn’t. If you don’t have that experience, you really shouldn’t write – you are doing your publisher and customers a disservice.
- You Hate Being Told What To Do: The publisher commissioning you to design for his company has a set idea of what he wants. If you are the kind of person who ignores design briefs because your ideas are better, you shouldn’t freelance. You’ll annoy your publisher and waste each other’s time.
Help Fellow Freelancers
So those are some of the reasons you shouldn’t get into freelance game design. Are there other reasons you shouldn’t give it a go? Let me know what they are, in the comments below and help other gamers decide if they should freelance or not!