Now Alexis over the Tao of D&D has an interesting take on something I said in regards to a post over at The Grand Tapestry. Specifically in regards to an interview with Harlan Ellison in which he rants about people who offer work (in this case writing) for nothing and in doing so devalue his own work in the field.
This is something I am personally familiar with as I work in computer code. The number of volunteers doing open source work or free (garbage) coding for some start up doomed to fail causes the same problems, best exemplified by this hilarious post. Similar situations are encountered by anyone who does for a career what others dabble in as a hobby. Artists know this, sex workers know this, writers know this, game developers know this, sport players know this, and everyone applying for a job someone else is willing to intern for knows this. And those working in the industry always have this inane need to rant about how people need to stop donating work and charge for it so that everyone can get fair value. “Stop posting art for free on DeviantArt!”, “Stop submitting to periodicals for free!”, “Don’t put your amateur porn on the internet!”, “Don’t release your OSR rules for free!”, “Don’t play on the company baseball team for free!” and “demand pay as an intern!”. All of it is garbage by people who don’t understand the nature of the trade they are in. If you are in one of these jobs you need to understand that people donate work because they want something other than money. Developers love to tinker, writers want to write one immortal work (money be damn), amateur porn stars get a thrill of exhibitionism and interns want to pad their resume.
Deal with it or find a career no one wants to do for free. Its part and parcel of the trade and no one is going to pay you for what others will do (and often better) for free. I get paid quite handsomely for my developer work and contractor work because I am damn good at what I do. I also lucked out and met the right contacts. If you aren’t lucky or skilled and usually both then you need to find a new trade if you want to make money. Just because some people get paid for baseball doesn’t mean I should get paid for being in the junior rec league. If I am not good enough to make it to the big leagues I am getting jack shite. If you write some Kirk/Dr. Who fan-fiction don’t expect a pay check. Also know that even if you write really good Kirk/Dr. Who fiction that the number of people writing crappy Kirk/Dr. Who fan-fiction will depreciate the demand (and thus price) for your work. If you can’t hack it find a different career path.
The second most irritating part? Alexis himself points this same issue out over at his other blog the Pegasus Rider “ I have long said about agents that the reality is that you have to be the married spouse of some brother or sister of the Agent's girlfriend or bookie. That's how it seems to work. I've had some very nasty dealings with agents over the last fifteen years and except for really needing one, I really hate that I really need one.”
The most irritating part?
“But nothing tops the truly stupid comment left by Zzarchov, which I want to be sure I copy here so he can't delete it there. Here it is in its entirety:”
The assumption that I would try to skulk off and hide my words like a coward. Alexis may consider himself a coward, but I find it distasteful the implication I am one.
He also points out often “miss the point”, which I will use this post to make clear my position on that since it is unlikely he would allow me to comment further on his post. I do get the points he is often trying to make, I also realise its often wrong. Case in point his long rambling post about how guns wouldn’t exist, completely ignoring an important fact. It is bullshit. Alexis does not want guns because he declared with GM fiat “No Guns” even though in even a pseudo historical world they would exist. Without guns and artillery the time period he purports to play in and be an expert in (demanding our respect on the matter) would be so radically different (from everything involving military organizations to the architecture of new towns) as to be unrecognizable unless you just flat out say “Guys I don’t want guns in my campaign, can we roll with it?”. Which is a fine answer, but just say the real answer instead reacting with such indignation if we call shenanigans on his flawed reasoning on why guns shouldn’t exist.
I don’t care for his implication that I said people shouldn't be paid for good work, as I charge for good work and pay (or offer to) others for their good work. Those who have worked with me can attest to this. What I don’t charge for is garbage. Notice how my RPG is free? Physical copies are sold at cost because my work in the rules and layout and public domain art has no real value. Now future versions have better layout, but that work isn’t mine but someone I received help from (and offered a sizeable sum of cash for said help).
Should Alexis be paid for his work? His economic system seems to be built with a great deal of skill, millions of lines of calculations by his estimate. Let’s compare that to my economic system shall we?
“So just how much is a gold coin worth? If 2 gold coins buy a nice dagger that’s fine, but is a gold coin a lot of money or not?
To answer this question, all prices are displayed in ‘$’ giving an approximate modern day comparison how much that is to an average person. If you are trying to think of the price of an item on the fly, compare it to a modern equivalent device. A horse is much like a car, a draft horse like a transport truck. A dagger might be closer to a handgun, a sword an assault rifle.”
Should I expect money for this? God no. Should Alexis expect payment for his system? He thinks so and I agree. His economic system took skill and effort; mine took 10 minutes and hand waving. But I think any implication that I should not release my work because it will negatively impact the value of my work is garbage. I don’t want to see people stop the DIY attitude because those up high and mighty declare you shouldn’t release things for free. It is your time and effort, so you can charge what you want for it including nothing. This grates on me as it is not an attack over just RPG's and other (in the grande scheme of things) unimportant matters, but over my professional conduct.