StartPlaying is a fantasy game platform that connects players with professional Game Masters, who set their own rates and terms
Expected pay: You set it
Commissions & fees: 10%
Where: Nationwide (remote)
Requirements: 18 or older; Familiarity with tabletop fantasy games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu and others
StartPlaying connects players with freelance “game masters.” Game Masters dream up the scenario they’re going to solve in the game, when to play, how many players can sit at the table and what to charge.
How it works
There are few rules to register as a game master. There are obviously no education or licensing requirements. What you need is basically a great imagination and organizational skills.
However, the site provides a variety of tips to boost your chance of success, including suggesting that you write a detailed profile of both you and your game. You should note whether your games are combat-heavy or light-hearted. Are you a stickler for the rules and accomplishing a mission, or are you likely to let the game morph based on player responses?
The more detailed your descriptions, the more likely you’ll find players who suit your style. That increases the chance that they’ll become repeat players and will review you highly. Naturally, that’s a key to success.
StartPlaying takes a 10% commission from GM revenue. Payments are made into GM accounts within a day of completing a session.
Side hustle, not job
While this site can help you find a community and paying clients, it is not likely to make you rich. Only a relative handful of StartPlaying’s Game Masters manage games full time.
Most of the Game Masters here use the platform as a side hustle, earning between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars a month.
However, hourly rates can be generous. Claire Haupt, who goes by ClairetheDM, says she earns roughly $42 per hour, including preparation time. Katie Porter, estimates her pay at nearly $50 an hour. However, since games are generally a free-time activity, neither works at this full time. Porter is a voice teacher by day; Haupt is an event production manager.
“Unlike Twitch, there is no way to become the ultimate whale here,” says Devon Chulick, 34, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. “No one Game Master has a monopoly on clients.”
If you love playing imagination games, StartPlaying is a great place to launch a side hustle as a game master. The site’s 10% commission is reasonable, StartPlaying advertises heavily on social media to recruit gamers, and it provides a wealth of information on how to be a success.
Want to sign up for StartPlaying?
What their Game Masters say (from ProductHunt)
“Within a week of setting up my game on their website I had filled 6 seats. The website makes everything easy and safe for players and DM’s. I would recommend StartPlaying to anyone trying to make a career out of tabletop games or to any players who want a professional experience for their tabletop games.”
“Running a game master service myself, I’ve found great value in joining the StartPlaying platform. The scheduling, communication and booking features have been great and only continue to grow with a level of convenience I, as a small business owner, just cannot hit without a much higher price point. StartPlaying is a win for everyone involved.”