What is a Pay To Play game?

With the dawn of internet gaming, one thing has become increasingly common throughout gaming culture: pay to play games. Pay to play refers to any service or privilege to enjoy entertainment activities with the exchange of money.

This is a system that you already partake in!

Though it is typically understood that this is most common in MMORPGs, whether it’s with subscription based games like World of Warcraft or paying for access to systems like Playstation Plus’ catalogue of games or Microsoft’s online play system XBox Live, there is a surging trend within the games industry turning games into a service rather than a single time purchase like in days gone past as practices like live support and regular updates become more and more common.

The advent of internet gaming culture has only reinforced this business practice with the “games as a service” mentality becoming more and more prevalent as we move into an era of live service games.

This is even present in the business practices of some big business tabletop companies like Wizards of the Coast, who have proposed to make their catalogue of rules for the next edition of their tabletop game, Dungeons & Dragons, predominantly supported through their online portals, like D&D Beyond.

What does this mean to you?

With the advent of pay-to-play games, player satisfaction has become a fundamental criteria for judging the value of any given game in the video games space, putting the enjoyment against the price tag, man hours, creativity and execution of any game. This is true of video games but in the tabletop gaming market things are a little different.

With the popularity of tabletop games soaring since the pandemic lockdown and the creation of top rated streams and shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20, the tabletop gaming space has moved from being a fringe part of the gaming sphere to a central part of gaming culture. This has led to a rise in digital support for tabletop roleplaying games. 

Companies like World Anvil, Roll20 and Inkarnate, have grown and been developed to help support the tabletop gaming community in world building, game tracking, combat board creation, map creation and many more supplementary services besides.

In the tabletop gaming space there are very few services for actually running games. With a drought of good, local game masters available to run regular games there has been an increase in the number of talented game masters making the move over to “professional game mastering”, which should be a cause of much celebration in this player replete landscape.

Finally a way to find a consistent and invested game master for all your gaming needs!

Why a Professional GM?

The first reason is simple, dedication! Becoming a sole trader in any artistic medium is always difficult. To do this in a medium where you are responsible for other people’s fun as an active service provider is even harder.

Whether it’s running one shot games, long running pre-writtens or bespoke long term campaigns, a professional game master has a lot of background work they need to do. From learning their players’ comforts, to creating or learning the political, religious and historical lore of any given setting, to creating wondrous soundscapes and maps to really immerse the players into the world, the professional game master spends hours of their time in preparation for their clients.

It is the work of a professional game master to create bespoke experiences for their players.

Safety is a core tenant for any good professional game master. Where home games can really tread the line between what is acceptable and what is comfortable, a professional game master has an ability to securely explain the content of their games and to make sure that there is an understanding of what any player can expect from them. 

Whether this is by utilising safety tools, expressing clear intent and content in a communicated session zero, offering post-game debriefs or a combination of these, a professional game master has both more incentive and more obligation to make sure that the people at their tables are as comfortable and safe as they can possibly be.

Player safety and comfort is a primary concern for professional game masters!

With bullying and harassment online being a chief cause for concern for many, the professional game master acts as the arbitrator for their table, moderating the behaviour and content of those playing in their games. This causes the game master to have to play both narrator and community director, especially in groups where the players do not know one another to begin with.

What Skills does a Professional GM have?

Professional game masters cultivate a set of incredible skills to bring the worlds they run for their players to life.

Some professional game masters specialise in incredible artwork and map making skills, letting the world they have created and brought their players into become a visual experience for the players as well as a wondrous gaming experience.

Others specialise in top tier acting skills, bringing the characters and emotions of the world to life for their tables with vocal and acting skills, following in the footsteps of the casts of popular live-plays like Critical Role and Dimension 20.

All professional game masters practise the art of creating engaging stories, but the thing that really sets them apart is their ability to react and work with what is presented to them by the players. This ability to facilitate the creation of a collaborative storytelling experience, and to encourage those at their table to participate in an active way in the storytelling process. 

Engaging an audience is the mark of a truly talented storyteller. This is the primary duty of a professional game master.

Ultimately the entertainment of their clients is the most important skill that professional game masters acquire. Making a living through entertaining others is a noble and difficult pursuit and, in the case of professional game masters, one that requires a level of understanding and dedication to their craft that helps them develop a plethora of creative skills.

Hiring a Professional GM

Hiring a professional game master can be a daunting thought, and process. Finding one that matches the style of game you want to play that also makes you feel safe and valued as a client sounds like quite the tall order. 

When you do find a good game master, the trick is keeping them and their services. This is where there is a price attached to their unique and wonderful services.

For as little as the price of a video game, you can hire a game master to run a full game story arc with you as a starring role. Focusing a story around you and a group of friends, either made in the game or brought with you, you can get an experience created for you and with you specifically in mind. Your enjoyment and entertainment being the primary focus of the service you are paying for. 

Luckily that is where Fantasy Guild Hall comes in.

As a storefront dedicated to platforming professional game masters and their gaming services, Fantasy Guild Hall has a rating service that allows you and other users to rate your game master leaving reviews and endorsements on social media and the Discord server.

As Fantasy Guild Hall does not take a cut of the game master’s ticket prices, utilising a small booking fee to keep the lights on, game masters can charge reasonable rates for their games, working to their own schedules and representing themselves and their business as a professional game master.

Join our community and meet your next game master!