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Revolutions are Always Verbose: Effecting Change in the TTRPG Industry

Dead? That's just silly. Can't comment on Zoom meeting or white collar habits, because I've no experience with either.
600k COVID deaths in the USA. Over 30 million cases, many with long-term aftereffects. Who do you think formed the largest portion of that number? Who was most affected by COVID? The people who got to stay home with a cushy office job and a decent health insurance plan, or the people working their ass off daily and have to keep working despite dangerous conditions, who are barely making a living wage with horrible health coverage (or no health coverage!), and who are probably already neck deep in personal, medical, and familial debt? Service-oriented businesses are throwing a hissy fit over people not wanting to come back to work and no new workers to fill the gap, not seeming to realize that the workers they are looking for don't feel safe working for a boss that couldn't give two rat's asses about their well-being, nor do they feel serving a clientele that doesn't respect them and in some cases actively endangers them with their ignorance. And that's not counting all the ones that are six feet under.
Rent varies wildly across the USA. But since RPG writers are not geographically bound to their occupation, a wise move would be to live where rent is low.
Moving's expensive, people aren't just willing to drop all their social and business connections at the drop of a hat, and the ass-ends of nowhere were rent is the lowest also tend to be lacking in local services and resources. Would you want to live in a town where there's only one grocery store?
I dunno about it being 'insensitive'; so long as urban planning focuses on jamming as many people as possible into the smallest area possible in order to elevate real estate prices, rent is going to stay high in major urban sprawls, that's just a simple fact. Anyone doing long-term career planning should take that into consideration. I learned the hard way that area-cost-of-living is a key consideration when weighing the merits of various employment options. In a very real sense, less can be more.
For a lot of people, "long-term career planning" isn't a realistic thing. It's work or starve. Or they can't work due to circumstances outside of their control and have to survive off of measly unemployment or disability benefits with no certainty as to waht the future holds. Maybe we could be campaigning for rent control, or for higher wages for workers, or for better benefits and protections for workers so that people don't have to make these hard decisions. Something, anything at all to decrease the cost of living! But no, the corporate lobby has captured all the regulatory agencies, and won't ever give an inch.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
10% is the correct amount. Now, if you're in a situation where you're in a large group, meaning your wait-staff is only dealing with your table alone, you generally pay 15%, but in a normal situation, yeah, 10% is fine.
I'll bite, correct according to whom? I've worked in the industry, 20 odd year ago now, and 10% was a cheapskate tip -- someone who didn't know better. 15-20 is standard, and what you find as customary in almost any guide on "how to tip in the US." Frankly, I tip 10% for terrible service only. If I was your waiter, I would either think you an absolute cheapskate or wonder what I did that was so wrong (or both). Again, I've been out of that industry for 20+ years.

I mean, the amount you have to tip is nothing. But, 10% as "correct?" I'd really like to see your source on that.
 




Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
AHEM!

This is not a thread about tipping practices of cheapskates and high rollers. My understanding is it’s about improving the employment compensation side in the RPG hobby,

Instead, I see a group of people tarrying and meandering around other topics. They are not moving back to the main topic. None of them are even juggling the main topic.

Let’s see more about that main topic. Otherwise, the Forest Moderator may be forced to act…
 

amethal

Adventurer
It’s fascinating to see different cultures even similar ones like US and UK be so different about something like this.
The UK has free* healthcare. The US does not **. That makes a big difference.

Also, the UK has end-of-life care homes which, while not free, have a maximum cost of "all of your assets". I assume elderly Americans get what they can pay for and nothing more.

*Free at the point of delivery, or whatever the technical term is. Obviously, somebody is paying for it.
**I'm not very familiar with how medicare, co-pays and all the rest of it actually works; as I understand it the system won't leave you dying in the street but might leave you dying slowly at home
 
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Pretty much every economic system oppresses some for the benefit of others.
"Under communism, man oppresses man. Under capitalism, it's just the opposite." – John Maynard Keynes

The source of the problem of compensation in the RPG biz is that it's really easy to be a game designer. I mean, it might not be as easy to be a good or particularly professional game designer, but the threshold to making and publishing stuff is really low. It's also a hobby that encourages creative expression: making new worlds, adventures, spells, classes, monsters, and whatever else. It's what the game books tell us to do, so there are a lot of would-be game designers out there.

This translates into a large labor pool. You don't want to write for 5 cents a word? Someone else, who's just happy to see their name on an actual RPG book for their favorite game, does. I don't honestly know how to fix that.

And, with the exception of Wizards of the Coast and maybe Paizo*, it's not like the owners of various game companies are rolling in dough. In most cases, they're people with a dream they want to realize, and they'll take what shortcuts they can to get there. The problem is that most game material is underpriced, but people won't raise prices because then customers might turn to other games. That's probably also why things like hard covers and full color have gotten more prevalent – even if they don't raise production costs by all that much, they contribute to a product that feels more valuable, so people are willing to pay more for it.

* It is my understanding that Lisa Stevens and Vic Wertz are loaded, but it's mostly money they got from Wizards stock when Hasbro bought them.
 

amethal

Adventurer
This translates into a large labor pool. You don't want to write for 5 cents a word? Someone else, who's just happy to see their name on an actual RPG book for their favorite game, does. I don't honestly know how to fix that.
Is that actually a problem?

I'll happily write an adventure for you, free of charge, for any system with which I am familiar. (Seriously - if you want one, just let me know.) Gareth Hanrahan, on the other hand, will charge you the going rate.

However, if you pay Gareth you know you'll get the final product, he will meet the deadline (I assume, never hearing anything to the contrary), there will be a boost in sales from people who really like his work, and the adventure will simply be better in every possible way. You get what you pay for.

Now, there might be mediocre would-be professional adventure writers whose work isn't significantly better than mine. You might be better off getting me to write your adventure, taking the risk that the direct cost saving will outweigh the extra editing time needed, lack of incentive to meet deadlines and the general amateur nature of what you'll get from me. Maybe - I dunno. But if such a hack writer does exist, I don't see why we need to support them.
 


pemerton

Legend
Assuming that we're treating labour as a market, then the most obvious way to raise wages is to restrict supply, or at least restrict the terms on which that supply is available. That's unionisation (if done via "private" means) or minimum wage and conditions laws (if done via "public" means).

I guess there's also the possibility of consumer pressure reducing demand for goods produced except on decent terms, but that seems less likely to be effective than some more direct way of tackling the problem as far as wages are concerned. But it probably can be effective for ensuring direct support of self-employed producers. This means RPGers paying good prices for small games. Which probably does collide with some other features of the world of RPGing (ie most people play a big game whose creators are employees or contractors).

The other solution, as has been mentioned, is to bypass the labour market altogether in ensuring minimum standards of living. But that's not a distinctively RPG-oriented approach!
 

600k COVID deaths in the USA. Over 30 million cases, many with long-term aftereffects. Who do you think formed the largest portion of that number? Who was most affected by COVID? The people who got to stay home with a cushy office job and a decent health insurance plan, or the people working their ass off daily and have to keep working despite dangerous conditions, who are barely making a living wage with horrible health coverage (or no health coverage!), and who are probably already neck deep in personal, medical, and familial debt? Service-oriented businesses are throwing a hissy fit over people not wanting to come back to work and no new workers to fill the gap, not seeming to realize that the workers they are looking for don't feel safe working for a boss that couldn't give two rat's asses about their well-being, nor do they feel serving a clientele that doesn't respect them and in some cases actively endangers them with their ignorance. And that's not counting all the ones that are six feet under.
Angst, not facts.
Moving's expensive, people aren't just willing to drop all their social and business connections at the drop of a hat, and the ass-ends of nowhere were rent is the lowest also tend to be lacking in local services and resources. Would you want to live in a town where there's only one grocery store?
If you think the number of grocery stores is the criteria for choosing a place to live, I can't argue with it.

For a lot of people, "long-term career planning" isn't a realistic thing. It's work or starve. Or they can't work due to circumstances outside of their control and have to survive off of measly unemployment or disability benefits with no certainty as to waht the future holds. Maybe we could be campaigning for rent control, or for higher wages for workers, or for better benefits and protections for workers so that people don't have to make these hard decisions. Something, anything at all to decrease the cost of living! But no, the corporate lobby has captured all the regulatory agencies, and won't ever give an inch.
Long-term career planning is the only hope people have. Artificially raising wages is a well-proven device to decrease the number of available jobs while the inevitable inflation strips away any benefit.

We are, like it or not, in a global economy. US workers and companies have to compete. That is 'have to' in bold letters and underlined. Rent control, benefits, etc, all cost money, which comes back around immediately to the taxpayer, which destroys any real benefit.

If you want to affect the cost of living, there are two simple steps:
1) convince local governments to adopt sensible population -density zoning. Sure, that means of elitist types might end up having to live in a town with only one grocery store, but sacrifices have to be made. Lower population density will translate into lower real estate prices, and thus into the cost of housing.

2) The Federal government has to begin working with US businesses to increase competitively. Reduce excessive regulations, cut business taxes, back off the 'green' initiatives that our competitors are not following, and the like. Otherwise, jobs will continue to flow overseas while automation ramps up at home.

There's also one complex step: the US education system has to accept it is badly broken, and be revamped in order to prepare young people for the workforce as it it exists, not as it was in the 1950s or as it exists in theory.
 

I mean, the amount you have to tip is nothing. But, 10% as "correct?" I'd really like to see your source on that.
The same source as any other number, I guess: what the person leaving the tip wants to leave.

Its correct IMO. YRMV.

Personally, I would prefer that wait staff be paid a suitable wage and the entire matter dropped.
 

Insofar as anyone who is putting in a full day's work ought to be able to earn a living wage, yeah, it is a problem.
The market bears what the market bears. That's as true for wait staff as it is for RPG writers. It boils down to one thing: how valuable is an hour of your labor in the current market.

That is the entire issue: what is one hour of your applied skills, training, and experience worth to an employer or customer?

'Ought' and 'living wage' are artificial constructs which will never have a meaningful impact on the math.

As noted elsewhere, the production of RPG products is labor-intensive, but only moderately skilled (in that a huge number of people can do an average job of it), it has, thanks to pdfs, an infinite shelf-life, and there are both decades of back inventory available, and the work of countless free-lancers who give up their material for literally little or nothing.

Taking those facts into consideration, it is surprising that anyone makes a living producing RPG material, much less a comfortable one.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Insofar as anyone who is putting in a full day's work ought to be able to earn a living wage, yeah, it is a problem.
Which was the original intent of the minimum wage laws.
1627373154789.jpeg
 

Which was the original intent of the minimum wage laws.
View attachment 141244
Well, FDR's many failings aside, he made that remark in an era before a global economy.

Today, businesses can send jobs overseas, where there are employees who will work for a fraction of what US workers demand, in environments free of US regulations, health codes, and environmental concerns.

Tyson is even shipping chickens outside the USA to be processed and the results shipped back, for one example. Everything from call centers to security system monitoring centers have gone overseas. Nearly the entire clothing industry in the USA has shifted overseas since the 1970s (old enough to remember the commercial 'look for the union label'?).

Whether they realize it or not, US workers are competing to keep their jobs, and the people they're competing with are very serious about winning. And their concept of a living wage is a lot less than an American's.

When the work force grows faster than the job pool, the market value of labor declines. That is a law of economics as immutable as gravity.

RPG creation fits that model exactly. A few truly gifted individuals may do well, but the rest will not see significant rewards. All the more so because those RPG writers who are looking for a career are competing with writers who produce material as a hobby, and are under no financial constraints when marketing their goods.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Well, FDR's many failings aside, he made that remark in an era before a global economy.
Among other factors besides those you mention, he also said that before executive compensation in the USA- on average- started to trend upward so sharply in comparison to compensation in foreign nations as to have a negative effect on ther ability to compete in said global economy.

You can see examples of it across all kinds of markets from fast food to automobile manufacturing.
 

pemerton

Legend
The notion of "inevitable economic laws of the labour market" is not plausible. The US is an amazingly wealthy country. There are policy configurations that can increase the welfare of underpaid workers. There are macroeconomic settings that reserve banks and governments can adopt to reduce the rate of unemployment. There are poorer countries than the US that adopt configurations that remove some of the pressures (eg heath care costs) that routinely arise in the US.

But none of that is particular to the pay of RPG designers, illustrators etc.
 

Among other factors besides those you mention, he also said that before executive compensation in the USA- on average- started to trend upward so sharply in comparison to compensation in foreign nations as to have a negative effect on ther ability to compete in said global economy.

You can see examples of it across all kinds of markets from fast food to automobile manufacturing.
Actually, you can't. A multi-billion-dollar corporation isn't affected by the pay of the CEO, no matter how much jealousy it raises.

If you want change, either increase the number of jobs, or decrease the work force. Those are the sole options available. Nothing else works, as the last hundred+ years has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt..

So in the specific case of the RPG industry, the only possible source of relief for those who want to make writing RPGs a career, is that sales will increase to such a point that the revenue flow justifies higher wages.

You will notice that the video game industry doesn't have the same issues, because you need skills and infrastructure to create and market such products. Even so, competition is fierce and there are plenty of examples of bitter failure.
 


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