Karate Kicking Your Way Into The Game Industry

So, I go to a con, I generally give a panel about “writing for the game industry,” which at the con usually means, “how to break into the pen-and-paper game industry.”

It’s often a widely-attended panel, by which I mean, you get seven people staring at you.

Clearly quite popular.

I don’t know that I have a great deal of explosive information to offer, but it seems like maybe I should come here and speak on the topic for any who care about such things. I generally get similar questions, and generally provide similar answers, so let this post serve as a small catalog of that talkery.

“How Did You ‘Break’ Into The Game Industry?”

I fought Justin Achilli. We were both dressed as bears.

I loaded a machine gun with d10s, and kung-fu’ed the White Wolf doors down, and shot dice into their brains, and inside their skulls the dice rattled and rolled until each one came up a shining, mighty 10. I’m making a note here, huge success.

I made Ken Cliffe drink my hypnotizing urine.

I never worked in the game industry. It has been a carefully constructed Internet lie.

Or, invent your own story!

Ahem, no. My path to Roleplaying Stardom (shut up) started eleven years ago. The ever-excellent Bruce Baugh, through the always-drunk Ken Cliffe, put out a “writer’s all-call” for Hunter: The Reckoning that basically said, “Write 1000 words on what Hunter means to you.” I thought about writing some kind of sexy Valentine’s Day card to some dude named “Hunter” and sending that in, seeing if I could get points for humor, but I figured hinging my first professional writing gig on what amounts to a “middle finger” would be a horrible idea.

Instead, I wrote a thousand probably-pretentious words about internal and external loci of control. So, playing an Imbued Hunter was representative of shifting your locus of control from external (the world controls me) to internal (I control the world).

It passed the gauntlet of Bruce, then Ken, and next thing I knew I was working on two books for the game line, and then Demon work started coming in, and then Tribebook: Stargazers and suddenly I blinked and it’s 85 books later. And 11 years. Holy shit, 11 years.

“How Can I Get In On One Of These So-Called All-Calls?”

You don’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen White Wolf do another all-call. That’s not to say a game company might not advertise for freelance positions. They probably do. But I don’t know that you’ll find the exact permutations duplicated again.

Point being, I don’t know that One True Path Into The Game Industry exists. Everybody seems to find their own way in. It’s a small enough industry that this isn’t totally bizarre. Every tunnel carved into the industry is demoed after you pass through it; it collapses in on itself so that no others may crawl that path.

“So What The Fuck Do I Do?”

If you’re smart, you run the hell away. Go get a cubicle job somewhere. It’ll pay better. It’ll look proper on a resume. It’ll earn you more respect in the world. Seriously. Try telling someone you “write RPGs.” Or, “write games.” Unless that person actually plays pen-and-paper role-playing games, you’ll receive one of several likely responses:

“I love roleplaying games. I play World of Warcraft. Do you write that?”

“I love video games! Tetris rules. Do you write Tetris?”

“Are you a programmer?”

“Like, what does that even mean?”

“You write Dungeons & Dragons?”

And on, and on.

Of course, you’re potentially one of those persistent weirdos who really loves games, and so as moth-to-flame, you are drawn ineluctably toward the shiny-burny. Presuming you therefore will not deviate from this immolation, then you might want to consider a few things…

Don’t Suck As A Writer

“Game writing” isn’t “game writing,” it’s just “writing.”

I’m not saying it doesn’t require its own special considerations; it does. But if you’re a shitty writer, you’re a shitty game writer. If you’re a good writer, you might make a good game writer. Writing is writing, by which I mean, writing is communicating using the written word. Whether you’re writing a pamphlet, a menu, a game book, a novel or a suicide note, good writing remains good, and bad writing remains stinkworthy.

Thus, learn to write.

Do not attempt to emulate the writing in pen-and-paper games. The quality across the entire industry is dubious. Not universally bad, no. Some game writing is jaw-dropping in quality. I’ve had the fortune of working amidst such quality (need I say named like Hindmarch, Laws, Ingham? The industry has many holy trinities). I’ve also had the misfortune of reading some truly bad writing in game books, writing that is eye-watering with the foul stench of inability and uncertainty.

It might not be the worst idea to refer to another post on this’n bloggery: “Crap Habits Of A Highly Ineffective Professional Writer.” Try that on for size.

Present Your Ability In Public

And let me add: “for free.”

Yes, I did my 1000-words for the all-call. It probably didn’t hurt that, prior to that point, I’d done a handful of free resources at Ex Libris Nocturnis. I worked on those as if they were not free, but paid resources. Meaning, I strove for quality and did not dismiss them as piffle, because I was really hoping they’d serve as examples of work rather than bullshit free nonsense on the garbage-choked Internet.

You are a fan, but don’t act like one. Act like a resource. A knowledgeable, friendly resource.

Further, Don’t Present Only Game Writing

When putting work online or submitting material to companies, I’d suggest presenting broadly. Fiction? Essays? Interesting and well-written blog posts? Yes, yes, and yes. All in addition to good game material. When I was developing, I was far more interested in those who could write broadly. See, game writing necessitates wearing many hats: fiction writer, essayist, advice columnist, system monkey, level designer, and so forth. The more aptly you can handle work in multiple arenas, the better you become as a writer and the more sought after you become in the industry. If you’re the best damn fiction writer only, you might get work. But fiction writing in the game industry isn’t often a big chunk of text, so that might be the only work you get. Meaning, minimal word count across fewer books.

Further, be advised:

Game design is not the same as game writing.

A designer can design all he wants, but if that design cannot be communicated properly, then that design is meaningless. The game writer must communicate good design. In a perfect world, the game writer is also capable of good design.

The 2/3rds Rule

I think this was once in regards to “writing for the comic book industry,” but I suspect it works here, too: if you’re two of the following three things, you’ll probably succeed in the industry: fast, friendly, or good.

Fast means, get your shit in on time, or even early.

Friendly means, service with a motherfucking smile.

Good is good. Don’t suck. Be excellent.

Being “fast” got me lots of work. You can write the most awesomest shiznit anybody has ever seen, but if you pile all that awesomeness into the Slow Boat To China, then it really doesn’t matter, does it? Being fast allowed me to step in where, frankly, sadly, other writers couldn’t hack it. “Someone wasn’t able to do this, can you get 30,000 words to me this weekend? Can you write a short story in five minutes? A game system in 17 seconds?”

Turning it in fast, and turning in good work, helped. I don’t think I’m a great writer, but I think I’m a good one. Solid, dependable. Not sure if I’m friendly or not? I try to be.

So, you can go for two out of three. Me, I say aim for all three.

“Will It Make Me Rich?”

Rich and famous. Your game writing will get you laid. On your yacht. Off the coast of your own personal island. Just last week, I had to break up with Lindsay Lohan.

No, game writing will not make you rich.

If you do a lot of it and for long enough, you might be able to sustain yourself, though. Which I think is the case for most freelance writing. You can sustain. Never rich, but never starve.

Be sure to get paid, though. If someone plans on making money off of it, then you should be making money. Doesn’t need to be a lot, but if their idea of “pay” is some weird fraction of a penny (per word), then I personally would suggest making a jerk-off motion in their general direction. That’s just me, though. You want to work for some dude’s testicular lint, that’s your choice.

Questions, Comments, Prayer Requests, Death Threats?

That’s pretty much that.

Other game professionals: do you have advice? Further thoughts? Conflicting info? Share and share alike.

Everybody else: got additional questions? Pop ‘em into the comments. I’ll attempt to address.

41 comments

  • So, as a corollary to all this, Yes, you can make your own shit. It is even possible that can work out pretty well – I’ve gotten a few freelance gigs by virtue of the shit I’ve done on my own, and could probably get more if that was my bag, so yes, it _is_ a potential avenue to that rockstar lifestyle that we all aspire to.

    But.

    It’s a shitload more work. If you are doing your own stuff, not only does it need to not suck, you are now responsible for a whole lot more than just writing. You need to be able to kick your own ass to make your schedule work, manage your web presence and promote your stuff if you expect it to get anywhere. You can have the most fantastically brilliant ideas that gaming has ever seen, but they’re not going to go anywhere unless you really hustle for them, and even then there’s no guarantee for a reward at the end of things.

    I don’t say this to be discouraging. Making your own stuff can be incredibly rewarding and educational, and I’ll cheer on anyone willing to try it. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s some kind of shortcut.

    Beyond that, there are two big things I would keep in mind.

    First: The industry looks a LOT different from the inside than it does from the outside. Chuck jokes about his rockstar status, but the reality is that if you’ve never seen your name on the credits page of one of these books, the divide between here and there seems HUGE. These are PROFESSIONAL GAME DESIGNERS! Clearly you can’t even TALK to them without an in!

    People in the industry are laughing at the very thought of this. They don’t see themselves this way at all, but there’s a gap in visibility. For the guy on the street, it’s hard to make the approach. So here’s the trick. For all you wannabe designers out there, this is the BIG FUCKING TRICK, the thing you need to know.

    Buy them food and booze.

    Gaming pays for crap, simple as that, and there are damn few in the industry who are going to turn down free chow. Even if they’ve got a per diem (rare but possible) then it means they have more money to spend on beer later. Implicit in this meal and beverage is some socialization, which is an opportunity to do normal human things like talk. In this exchange, I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that you use this opportunity to communicate with this icon of the industry like they’re a REAL HUMAN BEING, not some sort of vending machine for your future greatness. This NOT the time to make your pitch, this is the time to make a contact, put a face on a name, and lay groundwork for future possibilities.

    Does that sound cynical? If it does, then take a step back. It’s just basic human interaction. Getting to know people == Good.

    Anyway, this is what conventions are for. You make contacts, talk to people, and hopefully make a good enough impression that the connection continues. In the short term you get the benefit of the actual human, and in the long term, you’re in a position where you can now have that conversation about your idea or opportunities you’re looking for without sounding like some sort of desperate loser.

    Though is you are that desperate, here’s the second dirty trick. At a convention, NOBODY can remember everyone they’ve met, this year or previous years. If you see an industry rock star you really want to meet, walk up to them and act like you’ve already met. They’ll play along because this happens ALL THE TIME, and it’s easier to be polite than to try to remember everyone. This works especially well late in the con as people are starting to look especially frazzled.

    Bottom line though – this isn’t big business. This is an industry of people. If you wan tot get into it, you don’t engage some abstract idea of the business, you go out and meet people. It’s surprisingly easy.

    Second thing is much shorter – do not put limiters on yourself. If you aren’t good at writing mechanics but you really want to write color, you have two options. First, you can just say “Oh, I’m not good with mechanics” and include that in your pitch. Second, you can recognize that maybe that’s something to work on, fix it, and go forward.

    If there’s a weakness to your writing, then work on it, don’t hang a lantern on it and hope it won’t be a problem. If you don’t know how to work on it, then use the time that you would spend making your apologetic pitch to, instead, ask for advice. People LOVE giving advice, especially in the game industry, and they look favorably upon people who have taken their advice.

    It is no surprise to anyone that some writers are better at some things. You do not need to be equally strong at every element of the hobby to be able to produce good and useful stuff. But the last thing you need to do is walk in and say “I want this job, but I suck at X, Y and Z”. Maybe you do, but let them find that out – in the meantime, you need to be your number one supporter, not the person kicking the legs out from under you.

    Wow. That got long.

    -Rob D.

    • Long, but very well-said.

      Any creative pursuit is fed through relationships — “who you know” is actually useful and sometimes important, though not necessarily a critical component.

      – c.

  • Strikes me that, in many ways, it sounds like my industry (network security). Yeah, skill is required, of course, since we have things we want to actually get done. But somebody who shows up and is willing to engage in actual conversation, rather than a sales pitch, will go a long way, and I’ve seen a lot of folks get their start in odd ways because they were hungry.

    I suspect that this applies to lots of fields of human endeavor.

    • Kyle:

      True dat.

      Be good, be fast, be friendly. In pretty much any endeavor, those three things certainly don’t hurt.

      Every industry has its own hurdles, of course, and the game industry is no different.

      – c.

  • The thing about “who you know” is that while it absolutely makes life easier, it’s got another benefit. Once you know _some_ people in the gaming industry, it really opens your eyes to the fact that other folks in the industry are ALSO mere mortals. Once you’re comfortable with some folks, it’s much easier to approach others that you don’t know.

    I realize that it makes very little rational sense that there’s any barrier to reaching that understanding, but that barrier is there all the same. Anything that undermines it is probably a good thing.

    -Rob D.

    • One caveat to the “approach people,” a caveat that will fall on deaf ears because the people who need it aren’t the people who will hear it:

      Don’t be annoying.

      I’d say about, hrrmmm, eight out of ten people are pretty much good to awesome.

      Then you get your over-persistent, often annoying people.

      This is true with probably any creative pursuit (see agents who get annoying authors seeking representation), but know how to be polite, friendly, and not weird or annoying.

      Again, the people who need to hear that aren’t hearing it, so it’s kind of a silly caveat, but I think it bears noting.

      And this isn’t a “We’re rockstars, don’t annoy us!” thing. This is a, “We’re human, don’t annoy us!” thing.

      – c.

  • Don’t be afraid to approach people (by which I mean people who run or work for games companies). Many people, I think, want to apply for A Roleplaying Games Job. That’s not going to happen.

    I wrote my first scenario for Trail of Cthulhu because I ran it for the publisher and said “Can I write this up?”. I’m currently writing Cthulhu Apocalypse because I ran a postapocalyptic Cthulhu game and, later, said “Can I write a sourcebook for this?”. It never hurts to ask, particularly if you have a fantastic idea.

    Also, you can just write stuff. Write a book of GM advice, convention advice or advice on your favourite game. Then you have Written Something and can prove it.

    Graham

  • I’ve known various designers and writers for the industry at very levels of “freindiness” since my first convention back in the ’90s, and I’ve got to say that buying a game writer food is a hell of a lot like feeding a stray puppy – they get this “are you going to kick me” look, and then munch until you have to pry them off with a crowbar. This is not a slam against any of the “pros” out there, just an observation.

    I’ve never had any problem talking with any of the professionals in this industry. I get a little geeked out about it, but I just think of them as geeks with more credentials… if that makes any sense. Only a couple of times have I met any designers that struck me as being obnoxious or pompous, and I’ve gotten to run games for some of those games creators… which is just a blast.

    It’s weird that knowing a few people, I am always “looking in” to how to write for games I hadn’t truly started pursuing it until this year. I think a lot of people that want to break into the industry really don’t; they think it would be cool to work with games, but the reality of what that entails is a lot more work than they are willing to put up – and I only barely know what it is like from my outside view, furiously wiping at the steamed up window. What are you people doing in there?!?

    Loved the post, and the comment by Rob. Both of those are great insights into the way the industry works and the people within it. Thanks guys!

    • Rick:

      First: heh.

      Second: true to a point. Again, if someone makes me uncomfortable (weird, annoying, odd odor, etc), no amount of “beer and food” will get me to sit and be trapped with them for 30-60 minutes.

      Again, rarely an issue, but worth mentioning.

      And you’re right that people who want to break into games don’t actually want to break into games. Once more, any creative pursuit applies: lots of people want to be (writer, filmmaker, poet) until they realize what it actually entails. There exists a certain romance to these things that the reality swiftly cornholes and leaves weeping.

      – c.

  • To me the most important question to ask yourself is:

    “Why do you want to break into game writing?”

    * If the answer is that you think it is the fast track to fame and fortune, then you are sadly deluded and need psychiatric help.

    * If it is because you think games are cool as heck and you want to associate yourself with them, you are probably deluded and need psychiatric help, but you at least have a shot.

    I did my stint as a freelancer about a decade ago. I did it for the cool. I did because I love games. I sure as heck didn’t do it for the money, though the occassional paychecks never hurt. I will admit – I did it for the swag. I did it because my friends were doing it and were cool enough to let me join in the fun. And it was fun. And then my wife and I had kids and I had a choice about how I wanted to spend my time.

    You advice is excellent. Here’s how I would summarize:
    (1) Don’t Suck – Know How to Write.
    (2) Be Personable – Make Friends, Don’t Build Contacts.
    (3) Don’t Suck – Know How to Meet Deadlines.
    (4) Love The Game, Love The Idea Of Gaming – Love It More Than Your “Other” Social Life.
    (5) Don’t Suck – You’re Not Going To Be A Rock Star, So Don’t Act Like One.

  • It sounds like I can sum up your advice as:
    1) Work, to attract opportunities and to be ready to go when opportunity knocks
    2) Pay attention, so you actually notice when opportunities knock

    • John:

      Actually, distilling it down, I used this metric early on:

      “Never say ‘no.’”

      When someone says, “Do you want to write so-and-so for this book?”

      I’d say yes.

      I’d say yes even if I didn’t know the game as well as I wanted. Yes even though I maybe wasn’t comfortable writing those systems. Yes if the deadline was sooner than I wanted. Yes if I already had a lot of work on my plate. Yes, yes, always yes.

      It’s not exactly good for your sanity, so I don’t know that it’s *smart* advice exactly, but I can say from experience being a developer on the other side: if I hear “no” from you, I may not come asking again the next time. Not because I’m spurned or bitter, but because I’m simply more likely to not waste my time if I think “no” is the answer already. It’s often unconscious; say “yes” to work means I have you in that mental column in my head. It’s maybe not fair, but reality doesn’t always play fair.

      – c.

  • As someone who is new to cons and, heck, is still pretty new to gaming, I can say that the advice about just going out and meeting people is spot on. I went to my first con this weekend and I met a great group of people because I was willing to put myself out there and say hi. That initial step led to a whole number of wonderful opportunities, from playing D&D in a bar with a number of high profile bloggers and some people who, you know, wrote and developed the game, to running an adventure I wrote in the DM Challenge. I know exactly how scary it can all be, but the worst that happens is nothing. So go for it.

    • Tracy:

      That’s exactly it. It’s not just about being social in regards to Wanting To Be A Game Writer, but just about connecting in general.

      Throw the pebble, to go back to that thing I keep saying. :)

      – c.

  • Here’s how I broke into game writing:

    1. Wrote a bunch of stuff, for free, on the GURPS email list.
    2. Submitted some articles to PYRAMID Online. They were well-recieved, and I got paid.
    3. Parlayed that into a bimonthly column.
    4. Did a lot of playtesting for GURPS books.
    5. Wrote a bunch of stuff, for free, on the UNKNOWN ARMIES email list.
    6. Responded to an open-call for work on UNKNOWN ARMIES supplements. Got paid.
    7. Wrote a bunch of stuff, for free, for and on RPGnet and my blog.
    8. Industry contacts/friends from various fora and lists started asking me if I wanted to do some work with them. Generally did, and generally got paid.
    9. Decided to self-publish DEAD INSIDE.
    10. Made mistakes in my self-published products, did better next time, still got paid.
    11. Industry contacts/friends from various fora and lists ask me if I want to do some work with them.
    12. I seek out opportunities to work on games I like.
    13. Lather, rinse, repeat setps 10-13.

    ;)

  • Here’s my secrets:

    First, get to know people. A line developer is much more likely to take a chance on someone he or she knows. Also, knowing people is pretty much the only way to find out about projects before they hit the pipeline. Oddly enough, this is much easier now than it was ten or so years ago when I started. Today, just go find all the blogs of all the cool game designers. Read their stuff, and make comments. Try to make your comments as quality as you can. Boom, initial contact achieved.

    Second, be a fan. Ignore what everybody said above. Every game writer wants to be a rock star. Not for the money or the chicks, but for the fans. They want people to get excited over the stuff they wrote. Be a fan, and the game writer will notice you. Be a super-fan, and the writer will want to pay you back in some way. That’s your in. (As always, be aware that there is a line between “super-fan” and “obsessive stalker creepy guy.” Chuck already claimed the “obsessive stalker creepy guy” tunnel, so you need to find a different path.) For me, it started with being a Bounty Hunter for AEG, doing demos for them. Obviously, for others here it started with really making a splash on forums, mailing lists, etc.

    Third, make a pitch. You can’t sit around hoping that these guys are going to notice your blog and cold-call you. My in was walking up to John Wick at Gen Con, and handing him a written pitch to do the Church of the Prophets book for 7th Sea. It had a basic outline and everything. And, by virtue of being written, I a)didn’t suck up his valuable con time, and b)made sure he couldn’t forget about it. I also deliberately targeted a book that I figured wouldn’t have a lot of other people clamoring for it. And, boom, that’s my big writing credit.

    With the internet these days, all these things are ludicrously easy. Blogs, twitters, podcasts, et cetera make it simple to be hang on the fringes of the industry insiders. They also make it simple to set yourself up as a super-fan, as any game will benefit from exposure outside the official site. Finally, it’s a cinch to put up a blog post with a half-formed concept for a supplement for a line, then shoot your favorite game writer for that line an email saying, “hey, this idea won’t leave me alone, if I write it up all formal and professional-like, do you think you guys would actually publish it?”

    Oh, and in that vein, John Wick gave some excellent advice several years ago. Don’t throw your work at a publisher and tell them that you would be thrilled if they would print it, and they wouldn’t even have to pay you. To the publisher, that means that you don’t place any value on that work. Make the pitch for some amount of money. It won’t be much. But paid work is just a different level of reward from free work, even when the payment is barely enough to go out to dinner on.

  • To a lot of people, you are indeed rock stars, and it can be offputting. If I hadn’t been all crazy-ass cranky and pregnant the first couple of times I commented on this blog (ie: too nonplussed with life to give a rat’s ass), I probably wouldn’t have commented at all. Because like, omgzors, it’s that dude who developed my second favorite game. Why the fuck would he want to talk to me? (At this point in the game, you should be thankful you avoided the super-fangirl slobber. Srsly.) Get to know you a bit, and it becomes “he’s just this guy, you know?” But getting to that point can be daunting to a demographic that, laughable stereotypes aside, tends to be a bit more socially awkward than other groups.

    Sure, stating “I know Chuck Wendig!” in the “normal” world would probably net the name-dropper a blank stare and a confused “who the fuck is Chuck Wendig?”, but in certain circles to certain people, you might as well rank up there with Jesus. Or Chewbacca. (But probably not Chuck Norris, despite sharing half the name.)

    (Really nothing important to say, just felt like I should offer a peanut gallery perspective, since I am a fan of your work.)

    Also. You forgot to tell us how many dice you shot into WW heads. Are we talking WoD dice pools, which are large but manageable? Or are we talking Exalted dice pools, which are ridiculously ginormous?

    • @Maggie: Exalted dice pools. Necessary for the sheer number of people at the company!

      @Lugh: This is very much a personal bias, but I am sometimes uncomfortable with “super-fans.” Further, anybody who hands me any written pitch will get that written pitch handed right back to them. Partly for legal reasons (were I to do a game similar to that pitch, suddenly I’m *potentially* up the creek for stealing that random idea you handed to me on a con floor), and partly for personal reasons (to me, it’s very assumptive to just hand somebody something on the expectation they’ll read it, and it’s the same reason I didn’t just send stuff to agents willy-nilly — I only want to send stuff to people who are looking).

      Now, it worked for you, obviously, so more power to you. It’s not the way I’d personally approach anybody for work. But, again, everybody’s got their own tunnel into the biz.

      – c.

  • Oh, another random one – have a business card. Ideally one as cool as Chuck’s. Something that points to your blog or whatever it is you do, and which the person you give it to can review after the end of the con and think “Oh yeah, that guy” and check out your blog or twitter feed or whatever without needing to remember your name and Googling you.*.

    And if you don’t have anything for a business card to point _to_? You probably want to fix that.

    -Rob D.

    * They won’t. It’s not a matter of malice or snobbery. It’s just that by the end of a con you’re TIRED and your brain is full. Relying on memory and effort at that point is a fool’s bet.

  • Write.

    Fall in love with what you’re writing.

    Don’t be a dick.

    Write until your fingers bleed.

    Treat writing as the job it is, and not something to do “when you have the time”.

    Remove unnecessary distractions. The Wii isn’t going to wander off and marry the toaster oven if you turn your back on it while you are getting shit done.

    Grab the sodomy-fingered gorilla that keeps ooking the words “You suck” into your ear by the throat and curb his ass like a scene from the Sopranos. If you can’t see yourself as having the chops to write games, no one else is going to be able to.

    It’s been mentioned a number of times already, but get to know people in the industry. Without exception, the community of gaming professionals is chock-ful of great people. Hell, even if you don’t intend to write for RPGs get to know them.

    Worship Chuck, for his beard is mighty.

  • And if you’re looking for ideas for WHAT your business card should point to, I heartily endorse ripping off Will Hindmarch (who also has my favorite logo in gaming). it’s a simple landing page that points to everything important, and you can easily change it if your situation changes.

    -Rob D.

  • I totally agree with Rob about the business cards. When I tell people that I write a blog or that I’m on twitter, they often ask for my address or twitter name. It’s a ton easier to hand them a card than it is to find paper and pen and it denotes a bit of seriousness about what you’re doing. I started making these personal cards when I was working as a programmer for a start-up without business cards.

  • Thanks for the props (mad, etc.), folks. I did something like 30-50 coffee rings to find the ones that I liked, but it was good fun. I don’t know that having a logo — much less a tangential logo like mine — has actually gotten me any more work, but people seem to like my business card, and that ain’t nothing.

    I don’t have much more advice to give except to underline some of what’s already here. Fast, Friendly, and Good rings true. It certainly matters who you know in gaming. Scorch one bridge and you may be fucked. At least for a while.

    My current trajectory is a combination of making my own things, as portfolio pieces, and finding work Anywhere I Can Get It. But times are tight for me, right now, so it’s possible I’m going about this all wrong, which suggests more advice: learn from others’ mistakes, too, and don’t be stingy with your peers. Yet, at the same time, you’re sort of always on a job interview as a freelancer, so you’ve got to cultivate your image (better than I do) and then live up to it… or surpass it.

    It can be exhausting, so you’d better love it.

    Finally, there’s this: Get the skills to work in the video gaming field. Paper gaming is tight and growing smaller — unless you actively grow the hobby yourself. Create the demand for your skills and then meet that demand.

  • Wait… we’re not suppose to worship you?

    Damn it, and I ordered all these virgins to sacrifice and booze to drink… Now what am I going to do with them?

    (Quietly mutters to herself as she takes down her shrines to Eddy and Chuck, and puts away the voodoo dolls.)

  • I expected something that seemed harder. I’m not saying it’s easy. Working your own stuff can be hard. I’m currently working on a fan project for WoD and on my own system. Man, I can’t seem to see the end of it. But I can’t wait to finish them.
    Seriously, the hardest part for me seems to be the “know people in the industry” part. I can’t attend cons. All of those I know are in the US. I live in Canada. Hell, I got University, which means I’m broke. So forget the cons! The only “convention” I can think of in my corner of the world is CAiNE (for the Canadian Camarilla Fan Club). Ok, I got to meet Shane DeFreest at CAiNE this year but that’s when the OTHER part of my problem came.
    I seriously lack social skills. I don’t know how to talk to people. I can try, but I mostly fail. I don’t know what to talk about. I’m too shy to start a conversation. I’ve spent some time with the aforementioned WW employee, but I didn’t know what to talk about. I’m not even sure he remembers me.
    So, as any one got any tips for guys like me who lacks interpersonal skills? Master Wendig? Pretty please?

  • @Chuck: Perhaps it’s just the beard that requires adoration and fearful respect.

    @Shadow Freak: A dirty, little secret (no, not the one about the underwear collection of sideshow freaks) is that I have yet to be able to attend a convention myself. Various factors have contributed to this: lack of funds, kids, kids causing a lack of funds.

    One of the wonders of this industry is that damn near everyone who works in the industry has a web presence. Sure, the face-to-face thing is by far the most preferred method of tribal ass-sniffing, but you can really get to know people through their blog, Facebook, and Twitter conversations.

  • I’m only this quiet because I don’t have any advice and I’m jotting down notes from those of you who do. And it’s all excellent stuff.

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