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How to hire a Dungeon Master: playing games with the gig economy



Bethany Dillingham has been playing Dungeons & Dragons since the early ‘90s, but she was having a hard time trying to find a new game in 2018 when she hopped on the virtual tabletop platform Roll20. She found there were so many people trying to get into games that she couldn’t get a slot. Then she saw the section for pay to play games, hosted by professional Dungeon Masters (DMs), that typically cost between $5 and $25 per session.

“I played a game and thought ‘I can do that,’” she said. “It’s a good side hustle.”

Dillingham was working as a bartender at an Olive Garden in Goldsboro, NC at the time, and that side hustle quickly turned into her main job. Now she runs about eight to 10 games a week, charging six to seven people $15 each for four hours of 5th edition D&D.

“I think that being a storyteller is an art form,” she said. “It’s the same as a guy playing a guitar at a concert, or a painter. If you’re telling a good enough story that people are going to want to come back to, then they’ll pay for it.”

The cover of the new Pathfinder Core Rulebook shows heroes fighting against an ancient red dragon, which is bursting through the side of a decrepit castle. Flames fill the frame, while a female cleric with an exotic sword casts a spell through a holy reli

Next to Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder 2nd edition remains one of the most-played game systems on virtual tabletops like Roll20.
Image: Paizo

A growing number of gamers looking for a more creative way to make a living in the gig economy have turned to running games professionally, something that’s been made easier by the prevalence of technology like Roll20 and Foundry Virtual Tabletop — and the increased interest in the hobby sparked by Stranger Things and Critical Role.

“A lot of my clients come from small towns, or they’re a little socially awkward and don’t feel comfortable going to a game shop, so they try to find a game in the comfort of their own home,” said Christopher Rondeau.

Rondeau was looking for a little extra cash while working for minimum wage selling hot dogs and beer at event venues in Los Angeles. He started his first paid game in December 2017 after finding players through virtual tabletop forums. Rondeau said he started DMing full-time just three months later. He’s now run about 40 games for players from countries including Russia, Germany, Italy, and South Africa. His calendar features seven games each week. He charges $60 a month for two-hour weekday games and $90 for three-hour weekend ones. No matter where they’re from, Rondeau said his players tend to quickly mesh.

“A lot of people who are actually very different find this common ground through gaming,” he said.

Trent Harms had spent a year and a half running games part-time at his local gaming store in Winnipeg while he was in college, receiving $3 per person per session. When COVID-19 hit, he dropped out of school and began running games online full-time, charging $15 per person. He’s also found his players tend to get along well, regardless of their background.

A group of players sits around a table covered with wrapping paper. Paints are spread out and miniatures are being worked on.

Bethany Dillingham painting miniatures with her live gaming group in North Carolina.
Image: Bethany Dillingham

“There are some people that want to learn the system or are new to RPGs in general, and there are some people that are really experienced,” he said. “I’ve learned that it’s nice to have a mixture of both, because if you get one good rules lawyer in the game, they are amazing for helping you with new players.”

While they can be helpful, players who know the game’s rules very well and have strong opinions can also be a source of frustration, which is why some DMs try to lay down policies about mechanics challenges.

“I encourage them not to bring up anything unless it’s really serious until after the game is done,” Dillingham said. “I find that correcting somebody makes them feel bad when I do it in front of other people and, conversely, when I’ve made a mistake, it hurts my feelings and it hurts my image for my players.”

A “session zero,” where players and the DM gather to set expectations and rules, is recommended before starting any roleplaying game. Paid DMs typically offer them free of charge.

“We need to make sure you are playing as a party,” Rondeau said. “This isn’t an individual game. You are one protagonist out of many. I’ve had parties come in where they’re used to drinking a lot during their sessions, and then by hour three, nothing productive is done. Having the session zero really fixes a lot of that.”

Depending on their experience levels, DMs can also work with players to build their characters.

“There’s some players who want to be self-guided and I’ll just say ‘Here’s the world. Go explore,’” Harms said. “If you want to come to me and say ‘Here’s my idea,’ I’ll spend an hour off session working with the player and helping them build that character. I think that’s one good way to start building a relationship with your players.”

DMs can even create custom content for their players. For instance, Dillingham recently used Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to help design a custom template for a player who wanted to start the game as a wereboar. She said she particularly likes running games for new players who have fewer set expectations and think of a character first before considering the mechanics.

“They have the best imaginations,” she said. “They have an idea in their mind of this wonderful, colorful character who is all personality, and they don’t know enough about the mechanics to try to really make their character as powerful as they can be.”

Rondeau said that when he first started running games professionally, most of his players were looking for an experience like Critical Role. Now he’s seeing even more educated players with strong opinions on narrative structure and what makes a good character.

“Often those opinions can cause a little tension between me and the player,” he said. “I have different perspectives. It’s not a bad thing overall. I’m glad people are appreciating the art form and everything it provides.”

Actually making money off of that art can prove challenging. Dillingham said she regularly has players show up for one game and then vanish without even telling her why. She used to offer one game free but stopped doing that and now directs prospective players to watch her DMing on YouTube.

“You are relying on everyone to show up to play your game,” she said. “Every time somebody can’t make it, I lose that money. If the game can’t continue because too many players are missing, I lose a substantial amount of money.”

Rondeau lost nearly 65% of his players when the pandemic started because they lost jobs and were cutting down on expenses, but he’s since gained new ones. He’s managed to increase the amount of money he makes by contracting some of the work, like making maps and art, giving him more time to focus on crafting the narrative.

“Now I have a list of resources that really take my prep work to a quarter of what it once was,” he said. “I was doing all the work myself for that first game. I was trying to draw everything myself. I was trying to build everything from scratch. You spend a couple bucks and save yourself several hours.”

His business has proved so successful that he was accepted into the Tulsa Remote Program, which pays relocation costs plus a monthly stipend to bring people who work from home to the city to build its tax base. Despite all that, Rondeau said he still hears on a near-weekly basis that he shouldn’t charge people to run games for them.

“You always hear things like people should play music for exposure, you should give out free art and do it for the art’s sake, and somehow making money off a job makes it less art,” he said. “People get very defensive when money is involved. My games are not for those people, and that’s OK.”

D&D Essentials Kit

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit is “the single best introduction” to the fantasy role-playing game we’ve ever seen. The box includes everything you need to start playing D&D, including an introductory rulebook, a DM screen, a set of 11 dice, a handy set of cards for things players need to keep track of (initiative, magic items, etc.), and a brand-new adventure, Dragon of Icespire Peak.

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Universal Basic Income can provide support for people in gig economy




Income supports encourage people to not work? Duh, June 4

In an era of self-regulation, it is presumed that all employers will follow all protocols to ensure the safety of their staff during COVID-19, but perhaps this is not the case, and some employees might prefer to stay at home, instead of facing an unprotected workplace.

Who could blame them?

As far as the Universal Basic Income, in the Ontario trial, is concerned, weren’t most of the participants already working at two jobs in the gig economy and these did not generate enough income to provide stable support to them?

Margaret Perrault, North Bay, Ont.

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New regulations to improve safety in the gig economy




New regulations requiring online platforms to provide food delivery riders with personal protective equipment and induction training have been announced by NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson.

A new penalty system for riders will also be introduced as part of the reforms “to crackdown on repeated unsafe practices”.

The NSW Government intends to finalise the regulations by November 2021. Public consultations on the proposed laws are expected in September 2021.

The reforms follow a safety blitz conducted by SafeWork NSW, which found 9 out of 10 food delivery riders were not wearing safe, high-visibility clothing. Forty percent of the riders observed were also riding in an unsafe manner.

The measures reflect the recommendations of the final report of the Joint Taskforce into Food Delivery Rider Safety (the Taskforce), which was released on 5 June 2021. The Taskforce was setup in November 2020 to investigate the deaths of 4 food delivery riders in 2020, and to identify safety improvements for the industry.

Other recommendations in the Taskforce’s final report include:

  • further compliance monitoring of the food delivery sector by SafeWork NSW
  • ongoing enforcement activities by NSW Police to ensure food delivery riders comply with road rules
  • finalisation of the Guide to Managing WHS in the Food Delivery Industry, as well as the development of supporting factsheets in multiple languages
  • the provision of reported incident data to food delivery platforms to assist continual improvement of compliance within the industry, and
  • development of guidance on delivery bag standards by Transport for NSW.

Explore further on CCH Pinpoint® — Topic Guide: Gig economy.


Minister for Better Regulation and Minister for Transport and Roads, New laws to drive safety outcomes in the gig economy, [media release], 5 June 2021, accessed 7 June 2021.

SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW, Joint Taskforce: Food Delivery and Rider Safety (Final Report), 1 April 2021, 7 June 2021.

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Gig Economy Market to Grow with Sustainable CAGR During 2021 – 2026




Gig Economy  Market to Grow with Sustainable CAGR During 2021 – 2026

The business intelligence report of Gig Economy market accurately predicts the industry’s performance for the upcoming years to aid stakeholders in making beneficial decisions. Important data points like the growth catalysts, restraints, and lucrative prospects molding the market dynamics are deeply analyzed in the report.

Moreover, the study identifies the major challenges for businesses and offers insights into the opportunities that will help the industry progress in unexplored territories. Moreover, the report factors in the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic for stronger realization of the growth trajectory of this domain.

Key highlights from the COVID-19 impact analysis:

  • An overview of the pandemic’s effect on the global economy
  • Supply and demand changes in the industry
  • Current and future market trends in relation to the pandemic

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An overview the regional landscape:

  • As per the report, the geographical landscape of the Gig Economy market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, Middle East & Africa, South East Asia.
  • An overview of the growth patterns of each regional industry over the stipulated timeframe is cited.
  • Sales, revenue, and growth rate of each regional contributor is included in the report.

Other highlights from the Gig Economy market report:

  • The product segment of the Gig Economy market is classified into Asset-Sharing Services,Transportation-Based Services,Professional Services,Household & Miscellaneous Services (HGHM) andOthers.
  • The revenue and sales volume predictions of each product type is incorporated in the document.
  • Other important aspects like growth rate, market share, and production patterns of each product type over the analysis period are provided.
  • The application segment of the Gig Economy market is divided into Traffic,Electronic,Accommodation,Food and Beverage,Tourism,Education andOthers.
  • Market share and growth rate of each application segment over the assessment timeframe are enumerated as well.
  • The competitive landscape of the Gig Economy market is defined by key players such as Prosper,Lime,Etsy,BlaBlaCar,VaShare,Envato Studio,Fon,BHU Technology,Didi Global,Snap,,Zipcar,Uber,Toptal,Stashbee,Eatwith,Lyft,Couchsurfing,PeoplePerHour,Spotahome,Care.como,E-stronger,Silvernest,Upwork,Fiverr,Steam,Hubble,Home Away,Omni,Airbnb,JustPark andAirtasker.
  • The report also consists of information regarding the industry share held by every company, along with their pricing models and gross margins.
  • The report evaluates the competition trends and their business implications.
  • Industry value chain analysis with respect to top manufacturers, vendors, and buyers are incorporated in the document.
  • The Gig Economy market report also provides Porter’s five forces analysis and SWOT assessment to determine the feasibility of new project.

Reasons to access this Report:

  • Get to know opportunities and plan strategies by having a strong understanding of the investment opportunities in the Gig Economy Market
  • Identification of key parameter driving investment opportunities in the Gig Economy Market
  • Facilitate decision-making based on strong historic and forecast data
  • Position yourself to gain the maximum advantage of the industry’s growth potential
  • Develop strategies based on the latest reports.
  • Identify key partners and business development avenues
  • Respond to your competitors’ business structure, strategy and prospects
  • Identify key strengths and weaknesses of important market participants

The key questions answered in this report:

  • What will be the market size and growth rate in the forecast year?
  • What are the key factors driving the Global Gig Economy Market?
  • What are the risks and challenges in front of the market?
  • Who are the key vendors in the Global Gig Economy Market?
  • What are the trending factors influencing the market shares?
  • What are the key outcomes of Porter’s five forces model?
  • Which are the global opportunities for expanding the Global Gig Economy Market?

Table of Contents for market shares by application, research objectives, market sections by type and forecast years considered:

Gig Economy Market Share by Key Players: Here, capital, revenue, and price analysis by the business are included along with other sections such as development plans, areas served, products offered by key players, alliance and acquisition and headquarters distribution.

Global Growth Trends: Industry trends, the growth rate of major producers, and production analysis are the segments included in this chapter.

Market Size by Application: This segment includes Gig Economy market consumption analysis by application.

Gig Economy market Size by Type: It includes analysis of value, product utility, market percentage, and production market share by type.

Profiles of Manufacturers: Here, commanding players of the global Gig Economy market are studied based on sales area, key products, gross margin, revenue, price, and production.

Gig Economy Market Value Chain and Sales Channel Analysis: It includes customer, distributor, market value chain, and sales channel analysis.

Market Forecast: This section is focused on production and production value forecast, key producers forecast by type, application, and regions

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