- Nov 19, 2021
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So, have your parents charged you yet for all the labour involved in bringing you up? Not a snippy reply on my part, but one used to point out that in fact there is nothing in the world which says that all labour should be remunerated. It is a purely optional choice to take that stance, not a law of the universe. At times love can be hard work, so can friendship. Do you really want those monetized? Voluntary charitable work is, by definition, unpaid but is often hard work. People do a a huge range of things for an equally huge range of reasons. I, for one, would be sad to see a world in which everyone expected to be paid for everything.
And I think the same thing applies to game making. Not everyone wants to be paid for doing what they enjoy doing. In fact, being paid for it can change the whole way you relate to an activity to the extent that you'd rather not do it anymore.
There's more than one way to be paid.
With regards to your pithy point about familial responsibility, in short: Yes. I think I've more than paid my parents back for the labour they put in raising me. More than. If anything they owe me at this point.
People who do altruistic things (charity work, looking after friends) should absolutely be praised and feel good, but the feeling of accomplishment is the payment there. Remuneration might traditionally refer only to financial compensation, but there is something to be said for the "payment" in being moral and ethical, and a good friend/person. A good deed is, after all, famously its own reward.
My issue with the idea that art is in some way fueled by passion/altruism is precisely what @ATT_Turan said. A lot of people look at art, or music, or making games and think "oh, that's not real work, so why should I pay for it", and while I absolutely respect people who put games out for free I also see a lot of people taking advantage of that to underpay them:
"all labor is worthy of being remunerated."
This is a much better way of putting it.
I work in gamedev and the number of people I see (not at my company, thankfully) labouring day in day out for little to no money is a real tragedy and a blight on the industry. This abuse of workers runs on the idea that "people want to be doing this", and that passion means that people are willing to put up with worse conditions, less money, and frankly more abuse. It's built on the idea that this labour is in some way inherently altruistic, and because people do care about what they're doing, they go along with it.
It's why getting credible, industry-wide gamedev unions is still in its infancy, relative to the longevity of the industry, and why for a lot of devs the average work week is 70 hours, while they are only paid for 40.
I just want to see a world where labour of any kind is recognised and paid, even if it's "fun" or something people are "passionate about". And where the second a person says "this is worth money" people are there to pay for it, rather than debating whether or not it's a good idea to pay for things.
I do realise my initial post was a bit off-topic and about the value of labour rather than why people do fun things without being paid. I wouldn't want to speculate necessarily on peoples' motives for doing stuff for free, but when I've put stuff out for free it's because I want to make people happy and catalogue my own improvement