I’d been considering what else model building and painting skills translate to in terms of the world non-gamers exist in. (Such creatures do exist. I try not to call them Mundanes. Where my Piers Anthony fans at? **Horn Noise**) Honestly it ought not to be necessary. But times are tough. Happily, to an large degree, we geeks are in the process of inheriting the earth.. We’re starting to enter a world where people can list skills on a resume to do with team-building, leadership and management skills based on their time in a roleplaying group.
That sounds silly, right? It sounds like it’s padding your resume, but I assure you, it’s not. Consider your relative or your pal who’s an excellent hobby carpenter. You know they’re not JUST a hobbyist. This is their very serious past-time 7 days a week when they can devote some time to it. You know they know more about carpentry than most bankers do about money. You’ve seen their work, and you think they ought to be designing for a furniture company. You know they work in an office / store / <insert unrelated job here>, and it half breaks your heart that they can’t do what they do professionally. But given their level of skill, you’d certainly expect them to list their carpentry skills on a resume, right?
Why should the myriad skills you learn while roleplaying or working with minis whenever you can be any different? In character, you’re juggling interactive people skills, resource management, filling out forms correctly, abstract problem solving skills and critical thinking, as well as people management if you’re leading a group or running the game. That’s stuff that companies in the wild send managers out on expensive educational retreats to learn.
The same goes for the artisan and graphic arts skills you have to master when it comes painting. You need to know your resources as far as your tools and your paint. Your eye needs to be trained as far as being able to use or mix the colors you need to get just the right effect you want on the mini you’re painting. You need to have the mechanical skills of having a steady hand. You need the exacting attention to detail necessary to applying those colors attractively and realistically. You need to have an understanding of color theory and lighting setups so all the highlighting you’re doing comes off right. There’s even photography skill involved if you’re doing setups like we do to show off the models we create. And that’s photo-finishing skills, as well as internet and social media skills.
You didn’t know you had it in you, did ya?
There’s this stigma in our society that the things you enjoy aren’t things you deserve to be compensated for. IE: “I need a creative type of some sort. I’ll just find me someone who enjoys painting anyway. They’ll work for peanuts if I give em the opportunity to do that as their job. Why should I have to pay them to have fun?” And right now, as a working creative, I’ll tell you that’s bunk and calumny right there. If you’re confronted with someone who wants your talents for a song, and tries to devalue creative work as something you don’t have to pay for, dare em to live a month without the creative content they enjoy every day. If they survive that, they might come back to you with a fairer offer.
There’s also this stigma that since you acquired your skills ‘playing games’, that they’re not as valid as the skills someone acquired with vocational training or schooling. As though you didn’t have at least 500 hours of honing your talent doing your painting. (Compare that with the hours PILOTS have to log per year to keep their license.) Animator god, Chuck Jones once said that every artist or cartoonist has roughly ten thousand bad pieces of art in them. The difference between good artists and bad ones is that the good ones did all their bad ones already with constant practice. Which is what you’ve been doing with your hobby already. You’ve already done the research necessary in perfecting your techniques in professional publications and published instructional works equivalent to masters-level college courses. How are your skills invalid exactly, when you could link someone to a portfolio worth ten of any art school graduate?
More to the point, why are those skills invalid because you had fun learning them? We’re told over and over again to do what you love. But on the other hand, they’re not going to pay you what you’re worth for it? Someone’s making out like a bandit there, and it ain’t you. Employers want motivated workers. People with a ‘passion’ for doing the things they’re hiring for. Wouldn’t you want to have someone who was genuinely passionate enough to have taught themselves the administrative, social and graphics skills it takes to be a successful gamer or game-master?
And note here… in some of the columns I’ve seen from creative professionals, beware want ads that ask for people that want… ‘passion’. Many of these professionals found that passion translated into employers that wanted talent, but were under the impression they didn’t have to pay someone who was being given the ‘opportunity’ to have their job be something they genuinely enjoyed. It’s actually the other way around, really. Or at least it should be. Lowballing creatives creates a rush to the least result they can get away with paying for. And there’s no loyalty with an undercompensated employee, is there? They’ll leave you the moment something 10 cents more an hour comes along. Worse, being undervalued makes what was fun into drudgery. It can burn an artist out and sour a thing they once loved. Don’t put up with that. I know talented artists now who don’t paint professionally cos they don’t want it to turn into ‘work’.
Anyway. The point is… your skills are quite valuable and valid if you’re a gamer. Don’t let anyone devalue them. And certainly don’t be afraid to own them as the very real talents they are.
-Edward WinterRose is a 48th level geek, who in his upcoming spare time will be job hunting. A pastime he would not recommend unless forced, but ought to engage in a lot more than he does. Like many bumperstickers probably say, he’d rather be gaming.