Michael Tresca (MT): How did you become a professional game master?
Mark Abrams (MA): I've done several (though not many) professional GMing engagements, the longest lasting for one season (12 games, 1 per week). In the first instance I worked for the local community center in Chappaqua ny. I did that several times over the course of a few years starting in 1996. Another stint was during 2004 where I landed a paid GMing gig for twelve or so kids whose parents were happy to pay $4 / hour per child, and I found that gig through my participation in a local meetup group to which a parent had solicited for a GM to entertain the kids for a season. That worked out very well, was a lot of fun, and earned me about 1300 dollars.
MT: What skills do you need to become a professional game master?
MA: You certainly need to know how to GM. You also should be a capable administrator of both your time and talents. Not much else seems to be required if you intend to operate locally and on a small scale.
MT: Who was your first client?
MA: The Chappaqua NY Community Center
MT: How much did you get paid?
MA: $6.50 / hour in one case and $4 / hour / child in the other
MT: How does your business model work?
MA: I can be either working for a community center, which these days pays quite a bit more for this kind of program (between $25 and $50 if you can find a gig), or charging $6 to $10 / hour / child for private gigs.
MT: Has online gaming made professional GMing more feasible?
MA: Not yet, really. There are some people who are making forays into this space, and it looks potentially promising. Video streaming of game play may become a popular spectator sport as we are seeing lately with people using twitch to play computer games. Wil Wheaton is running a show wherein he is GMing for a bunch of friends of his, and that seems to be doing reasonably well. It is entirely possible that done right an audience based model for professional Gamemastering is feasible. We are attempting to work in that direction.
MT: What is your typical customer base?
MA: Children between the ages of 11 and 13.
MT: Where can customers find you online?
MT: Anything else you would like to add?
MA: We've compiled a good deal of information as a Society and have a number of promising leads that we are pursuing, though nothing has sparked particularly just yet. We've been in existence as a society for about a year, and most of the initial time was spent organizing our thoughts which you may find in our Society Google Docs.
I'd also like to add that I think RPGs represent a new art form for the 21st century, and the possibilities for Professional GMing, which is in its infancy now, are far ranging and practically endless. I believe that eventually it will become the predominant form of entertainment. The reason why is that it allows for infinite and personal creativity, brings together many kinds of artistic pursuits into one cohesive whole, and is an amazing amount of fun. Here are some of my thoughts that I wrote up on this topic last year for the GM Academy.
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