The more freelance work I do in the game industry, the more I appreciate how many people are involved in the publishing of games we love. There are some jobs in the game industry with names that are readily familiar. I am sure many of you can easily name some of your favorite game Designers (perhaps Monte Cook, Gary Gygax, Matt Leacock, Kevin Siembieda, etc.), favorite Artists (such as Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jon Hodgson, John Kovalic, etc.),and even favorite Writers (including Ed Greenwood, Matt Forbeck, Robin D. Laws, Margaret Weis, etc.). I know you can name game publishing companies, but I am sure many of you can even list your favorite Publishers by name also (names such as Steve Jackson, Christian Petersen, Chris Pramas, Lisa Stevens, etc.)
Those are great names to know and follow, but have you ever taken the time to look at the Credits page in your favorite RPGs or Board Games? There are many other jobs besides the Designers, Writers, Artists and Publishers who create and finish these wonderful games you enjoy, and many great people fill these positions.
- Art Director – Commissions the artist and discusses with them what pieces are needed, or hunts out the photos and then, in many cases, works with the layout person as to where those images end up in the final document.
- Cartographer – Creates the incredible maps found in rpgs and board games.
- Community Manager – Builds and manages the community of fans of the publisher, especially the volunteers who run demos and work at conventions.
- Editor – Revises submitted game documents for language, continuity, style, and voice.
- Graphic Designer and Layout – Assembles the text, typography, images, and charts to create the visual display of the game books, manuals, cards, and components. Also assist with making the promo materials for games and any merchandising the company wants to produce.
- Line Developer – Oversees the progress of the game and where it’s going, so what elements constitute the game world, what books to commission to keep the line going, that sort of thing. They work with the authors, editors, and artists to develop the company’s vision of the game.
- Line Editor – Oversees any other editors working on the project to make sure that a consistent tone and style is maintained throughout. Sometimes Line Editor and Line Developer get a bit muddled, at least in smaller companies.
- Proofreader – Reads printers’ proofs and final drafts of books and manuals, looking for grammatical, spelling, style, game mechanics, layout, and continuity errors.
- Sculptor – Designs and molds the based model for miniatures and game pieces.
It is very likely if you looked at the names of the people in these positions that you would find the same people listed in many of the games you really enjoy. As I have been involved in more and more freelance projects, I experienced this personally with a recent work inquiry of “I was contacting you because I’ve noticed you’ve proofread/edited several RPGs I’ve loved, such as Achtung Cthulhu!, IZ2.0 and Mindjammer.” I felt so honored to have a game designer recognize my work and request that I assist them with a project they are working on. I have also been blessed to team up with some people on different projects. I find it a joy to work alongside them again on a new project but with familiar teamwork.
As a freelancer, I have great respect for all the names on the credits page. Each person listed has done their unique part to bring this game to market so it can be enjoyed by the fans.
So next time you are looking for a new game to purchase or seeking a freelancer to hire for your next project, check out the Credits in some of your favorite rpgs and tabletop games. You might find some talented people there you want to get to know better.
* Special thanks to Lynne Hardy for helping me define some of these game publisher positions.
* For those interested, the Header Image is the Credits for Pulp Fantastic from Battlefield Press.