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Soapbox: About the Industry

Fiction or Non-Fiction

by Sandy Antunes
May 05,2005

 

Fiction or Non-Fiction


by Sandy Antunes

As I'm hunting for a job come Fall, it's time for me to update my resume. I've written a lot, but how to list it all?

Are RPG Sourcebooks "fiction" or "non-fiction"?

Clearly more experienced professionals must have gone through this same connodrum, so I inquired politely on an industry list. Some weighed on one side, others on the other, a few quibbled about the middle, but in the end, four viewpoints really illuminated the topic for me.

The first was an issue I hadn't really thought of, the risks of listing RPG writing at all. We're often closet gamers for a reason. Being branded 'a gamer' and therefore unhireable, without even decent recourse to sueing for discrimination (because nothing says "I want to work here" like "or else I'll sue you!") makes the entire issue of whether to list worth considering.

But, on the other hand, I have a strong opinion on this. If I spent time writing it and I got paid, it's worth listing. Steve Perrin comments about the hazards of just listing it as "RPG writing", though, with:

People who read resumes want to see things they know about. If you spend 15 minutes explaining what an RPG is (assuming you still get an interview) you'll probably be knocked out of the running because you "spend too much time playing games," even if you were working on games. I lost out on a lot of tech writing jobs because I put too much emphasis on my game career.
Worrisome, but sage advice. So I was encouraged by Lester Smith's personal tale:
I currently work as a writer for an educational design house, published by Houghton Mifflin. When I started about six years ago, I took in an example RPG (Zero, in this case) to show that I could write more than a few words at a time. If I hadn't had some experience teaching in grad school, however, I'd have never gotten an interview.
Two years ago, they hired another ex-TSR guy, and about two months ago, two more. The four of us now share one large room, and it's pretty cool to all be back together. In this case, I guess once I'd demonstrated that publishing credentials is publishing credentials, that brought down the wall for the other guys (one of whom has no teaching experience at all).

There's hope! Certainly I'll list my RPG work. Steve's take on the fiction/non-fiction issue is, "I would suggest "technical writing" as an explanation for anything in RPG that isn't outright fiction."

Lester defines it as, "I always pitch the game work as technical writing, salted with fiction for entertainment.". Score two for "non-fiction".

James Cambias agrees and provides the very succinct, almost zen-like response, "RPGs are nonfiction, though sometimes they're nonfiction about imaginary things.". Beautiful wording, that. And that's 3 for non-fiction.

But of course, Kenneth Hite lifts the entire discussion into the cynical real world with his traditional flair.

If it's for a resume, it's best described as whichever looks best on your resume, since you can defend it either way -- and if the interviewer knows RPGs, then you won't have to explain its presence in the category, because you'll be too busy talking games.

So there we have it. For me, RPG writing is non-fiction, subclass "technical writing". It's good, it works for me, and it's supported by four people who write so well, just by accident they did most of this column's efforts for me. Hard to argue with that. TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

What do you think?

Go to forum!\n"; $file = "http://www.rpg.net/$subdir/list2.php?f=$num"; if (readfile($file) == 0) { echo "(0 messages so far)
"; } ?>

All Soapboxes

  • See What Sticks by Sandy Antunes, 06jan06
  • Simple Gifts for Pre-Gamers by Sandy Antunes, 09dec05
  • Col vs Blog by Sandy Antunes, 04nov05
  • Running a First RPG for Kids by Sandy Antunes, 07oct05
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  • The Hazards of Non-Combat Gaming by Sandy Antunes, 05aug05
  • Just-in-Time Pre-order Hell by Sandy Antunes, 01jul05
  • Cassandra's Industry Report by Sandy Antunes, 03jun05
  • Fiction or Non-Fiction by Sandy Antunes, 05may05
  • I am not a Storyteller by Sandy Antunes, 08apr05
  • A Better Job by Sandy Antunes, 01apr05
  • Advice For Working Writers by Sandy Antunes, 04mar05
  • Startup Fever by Sandy Antunes, 04feb05
  • Why Blogging is Lame by Sandy Antunes, 07jan05
  • Being a Pro Writer by Sandy Antunes, 10dec04
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  • The 24 Hour RPG Challenge by Sandy Antunes, 08oct04
  • A Decade of Distilled Advice by Sandy Antunes, 03sep04
  • Go Ahead, Hit Me! by Sandy Antunes, 06aug04
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  • Beyond Role and Pla(t)y(pus) by Sandy Antunes, 08apr04
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  • Murphy's Law for Adventure Writers by Sandy Antunes, 07nov03
  • Eigentesting by Sandy Antunes, 09oct03
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  • Designing Amidst the Tides of Gaming History by Sandy Antunes, 08jul03
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  • The Websites That Wouldn't Die by Sandy Antunes, 10apr03
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  • TCG: The Total Cost of Gaming by Sandy Antunes, 10oct02
  • Game Publishing & The Law by Sandy Antunes, 06sep02
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants by Sandy Antunes, 01aug02
  • Buying Time by Sandy Antunes, 04jul02
  • April 10, 2002 13 New FAQs
  • March 1, 2002 Give Me A Closet
  • January 2, 2002 Let's Go Shopping?!?
  • December 13, 2001 Conflict, Ethics, Winning, and Money
  • November 13, 2001 Secret RPGnet Operations Document Leaked!
  • October 16, 2001 Leadership and D&D
  • September 4, 2001 Leading Industry Site Reports Secret: Sex Sells!
  • August 7, 2001 Any, Anyone Can Be an Internet Success-- Why Aren't You?
  • July 3, 2001 Fine Print, Part U
  • June 5, 2001 Fine Print, Part I
  • May 8, 2001 Pushing Limits
  • May 4, 2001 RPGnet State of the Union special feature
  • April 6, 2001 The Other Magic: Niche Hobbies and Other Markets
  • May 9, 2000 Running a Business as an Old Style D&D Party
  • April 14, 2000 First to Market
  • March 20, 2000 Labor Pains
  • February 15, 2000 One Trick Pony
  • January 6, 2000 Creativity is Bad, Hard to Sell, and Great for Business
  • December 14, 1999 Oranges versus Bananas: Entertainment Costs
  • November 2, 1999 Why Editors Lie
  • October 5, 1999 How to publish a quality game, accept criticism gracefully, and lead a happy life: Pick Any Two
  • September 7, 1999 It Takes a Village (to publish an RPG)
  • August 3, 1999 All Gamer Money Isn't Equal
  • July 6, 1999 Tides of Cash Flow
  • June 1, 1999 Ad-itudes
  • May 4, 1999 Who, What, Give me a Guiness
  • April 6, 1999 The GAMA Trade Show '99
  • March 2, 1999 Roleplaying would have saved Millions
  • February 2, 1999 Games That Won't Suck
  • January 5, 1999 Dangerous Games
  • December 1, 1998 Making Gamers the Old Fashioned Way
  • November 3, 1998 The $1K Company
  • October 1, 1998 So You Want to Start Your Own Company...
  • September 1, 1998 Holy Grails and Marching Morons
  • August 4, 1998 Gamers Must Die!
  • July 7, 1998 Profit versus Prophet
  • June 2, 1998 Acquire! Acquire!
  • May 5, 1998 Power
  • April 21, 1998 The GAMA Trade Show Report, Part 2 (eventually)
  • April 7, 1998 Schroedinger Games, or, the GAMA Report
  • March 3, 1998 Culling the Herd
  • February 3, 1998 Horatio Hornblower's RPG Company
  • January 6, 1998 Double Feature (Us and Them/A Clash of Images)
  • December 2, 1997 "How to Scam Games for Free"
  • November 4, 1997 "Women in Gaming?"
  • October 2, 1997 "Fear of a Gaming Planet" (Welcome to the RPG ghetto?)
  • September 2, 1997 "Rush" (fame and adoration in lieu of pay)
  • August 2, 1997 "For the Money" (convention mating rituals)
  • July 2, 1997 "Good Deeds" (the dearth of evil game companies)
  • June 2, 1997 "Dirty Laundry" (copyright and slander on the net)
  • May 2, 1997 "Communications Breakdown" (company and player schisms)
  • April 2, 1997 "The Quick and the Dead" (dying companies versus new ideas)
  • March 2, 1997 "It's All in the Timing" (on hype and late deliveries, and on genres)
  • February 2, 1997 "Insiders and Outsiders" (who's who and who uses the web)
  • January 2, 1997 "Fits and Starts" (web presences, print runs, live roleplaying)
  • December 2, 1996 "Procastination Season is Over" (delays and new products)
  • November 1, 1996 "Best of Times, Worst of Times" (on rumors, survival, and larps)
  • October 1, 1996 "Post-Con fallout and not that many new games"
  • September 1, 1996 "Our launch, news from GenCon, demos, new LARPS"
  • Our reason for existence

    Other columns at RPGnet

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