You may have guessed that the main reason why I chat with people about how they get paid to play is because I want to get there myself.
My biggest problem is… well, I’m not exactly sure what it is. Maybe the expectation that if I had some way of getting paid to play, I’d be doing it by now.
Maybe it’s because I’ve not happened on The Right Thing yet.
And maybe it’s just my usual anxieties undermining everything I do.
But right now, I find I want to share a couple of things with you, because they triggered in me something I’ve not felt in a while, or at least, not so strongly as I sis when I saw them:
Ten Years of Bitin’ Cock
Did you know it’s been ten years since Red Vs. Blue started? That’s right; the team of folks at Rooster Teeth have been putting out those five-minute skits using the Halo games for a decade now.
In that time, they’ve gone from a bunch of loony mates getting together to pal about and tell rude jokes to… well, see, that’s the thing. They’re still a bunch of loony mates getting together to pal about and tell rude jokes.
Except now, they’re a company. A business with employees and everything. Except the employees seem about as loony as the original gang.
Here’s the thing I wanted you to look at – a retrospective on ten years, to paraphrase NOFX, of fuckin’ up.
Boy, do I envy them.
Their daytime job is to hang out together, play with tech they love (from sound kit to motion capture to digital animation) and produce pieces of entertainment that make people around the world wet themselves.
For ten years, they’ve hung out, pissed each other off, quit whatever jobs they were working (I didn’t know that Geoff “Grif” Fink was originally a call centre manager) to do RT full time and they’ve never lost that sense of ridiculousness that drives them.
Their business is still doing what they did back in the beginning: Publishing short comedy videos aimed at the geek crowd.
Fifteen Years of Once Cent Thrills
And that reminded me of another video I saw a few months back:
If you don’t know who those guys are, they’ve been creating a thrice-weekly comic strip for close on fifteen years now. Again, it started with some guys (well, two) pal-ing around and making game-culture-centric comedy. Again, it’s blossomed into a business that’s still all about that same product on the same schedule.
And as you can see form that video, they’re even willing to forego running ads on their website in order to free time up from managing their relationships with their advertisers so that they can make more stuff that their audience will dig.
If those weren’t enough, they’ve brought more entities under their umbrella, like the web series Extra Credits. They’ve employed a guy to write the gaming news and reviews column that they felt didn’t exist.
They even created the geek culture convention that they always wanted to go to (that’s even coming to Australia this year).
Finally, they even share offices with a fellow webcomic creator – Scott Kurtz, author / artist of PVP – who became a great mate and moved all the way from Texas to Seattle so they could become the one gang of two businesses.
Just what do I envy?
For starters, I envy these folks gangs, the groups, the dudes and dudettes who stick with each other through thick and thin, who in their adult lives made themselves the gangs they wish they’d had when they were growing up.
Me, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping folks at a kind of arm’s length. Heck, I know my own wife – one half of what ought to be the ultimate two-person gang – gets frustrated with me. I have a tough time talking with her about what I’m trying to do, or pursuing some sugar-rush keen obsession instead of working on finding the real thing.
I envy how each of them is a part of something awesome that’s not just kept them going, but helped them thrive, prosper, keep creating awesome. That they can share the process of their work with others who help make their stuff more than it would be on its own.
Most of all, though, I envy that they have something to say.
Both the Rooster Teeth team and the Penny Arcade lads have let their eye for the absurd in gaming and life give them constant fodder for commentaries and gags.
That’s something that keeps eluding me.
While I might have twenty-five episodes of a podcast (plus those I’ve created with Marcus) under my belt, I sometimes wonder – as much as I’m interviewing others about how they do what they do, it’s not something that I’m yet doing myself. I feel like I’m preaching something that I don’t practice.
And this blog’s bounced from concept to concept, yet I’m still to find that thing that gives it any serious direction, will change the posts from just diary entries into things that you folks can laugh at, think about, argue with – maybe even learn from.
What have I got to say? How do I say it?
I’d love to leave this on a “more on that next time”, but I don’t even have an answer that I can hold onto until then.
Another thing I can’t do is tell you what I’m going to do. One thing I’ve got good at over the years is being a “gunna” – someone who says they’re gunna do something but rarely follows through. I’d rather show you a finished product – or even a work in progress – than offer you yet another empty-air promise.
One thing I have been doing, though, is talking with people.
If I’m envious of the groups that these folks have formed, then maybe it’s time I started to form legitimate connections with folks who dig what I do, got out and chatted not just with people who are on my general “paid to play” wavelength but people whom I’m in a position to actually do something with instead of just for.
Anything more than that, I’ll tell you about as I discover it myself.
Are you stressing?
Tell me about someone whose achievements you envy? Who are they, and more importantly, what are those achievements? What about them do you envy so much?
Are you curious?
How do those achievements you envy in someone else marry up with your own skills and interests?
How could you go about creating a similar achievement or achievements in your own life?
Who do you know that has similar goals or interests? How could you help each other out?