The gods seem to be smiling, at least for the time being. Orders for games are coming in at the rate of a few a day; I’m doing my best to give excellent customer service. I usually get orders out within a day or two. Sometimes I’ve got a game boxed and shipped off within 2 or 3 hours. The work doesn’t stop, it seems steady. One unintended consequence is the e-mails; again, I do my best to respond to customers right away if they have questions on ordering. A few have e-mailed or called, asking about their order status. I try to be polite as I point out that the Web site states very clearly that orders may take 2 to 3 weeks for delivery– SO WHY THE HELL ARE YOU ASKING ME WHERE YOUR GAME IS, AFTER ONE WEEK? It’s on its way, don’t sweat it, no one’s ripping you off and I’m by far the most conscientious person you could buy from.
Read in the paper yesterday that the CEOs of the Big Three automakers went up to Congress, asking for a bailout loan of billions of taxpayer dollars. After having driven their companies into the toilet with poor decisions and planning, a few have graciously offered to work for one dollar salary next year, if the money is approved. I’m sure the tens of millions of dollars they got over the past few years will tide them over, but it made me think about me as a small business guy. What am I making on this board game?, I stopped to wonder one recent night as I boxed up games on my kitchen table at ten past midnight.
By my count, I’m putting in about four hours of work a day on average on my game. That’s taking orders, filling orders, buying boxes, e-mailing press and distributors, designing flyers, arranging ads, filling out Customs forms, driving into town to pick up more sets of Limited Edition figures, driving to and from the Post Office and FedEx, to and from the storage place, writing blogs now and then(!), and so on. Four hours may not seem like much, but that’s in addition to my regular work. We’re talking nights and weekends, and seven days a week, not five. That’s about 30 hours each week, hours when regular people are watching their favorite TV shows, going out with friends, cracking open a book, or surfing the Web for midget porn, whatever. I’m explaining, not complaining.
But the question becomes, for what? The answer is, literally, for nothing. I have not earned a penny from the game; every cent that comes in goes into the company to pay for shipping charges, ads, bank fees, etc. I, personally, have yet to see a penny of profit; I just hope to earn enough to pay back the people who graciously loaned me money for the game. Last time I ran the numbers I figured I might break even some time late in 2009; unless the game really takes off (and it might), I probably won’t earn more than a few thousand dollars in profit until 2010 or so.
Okay, do the math with me for a second. Let’s say that by 2010 I earn $5,000. Not bad, eh? Five grand is a nice wad of greenbacks. Except that by then, if the game keeps taking up the same amount of my time (and it may or may not), I’ll have worked about 1,800 hours to earn that $5,000. That comes to $2.75 per hour, a wage that a Mexican Chicklet street peddler would sneer at. (I’m not even including the nine months of pre-production work on the game, or the years of development. That would just depress me.)
So I have to laugh when I see some of my critics suggest that I’m exploiting religion to get rich. I’m doing neither. This game is a labor of love, something that started as an idea, and that I somehow found the perseverance to see through. Playing Gods, like most things I do, from writing books to solving mysteries, is not a money-making scheme, it’s a personal achievement, and no one can take that away from me. It is immensely satisfying to see people getting pleasure, laughter, and enjoyment out of something I did.
I’m glad that the head of Ford Motors can work for a dollar a year salary, but I’ve almost got him beat. Lots of people can drive a company into bankruptcy, but not everyone can create the world’s first satirical game of religious warfare.
COMING IN THE NEXT BLOG: Rule changes! A nice plug from a Simpsons producer! And Playing Gods teams with the Church of the SubGenius!
For what it’s worth, I reckon your customer service has been just about the best I’ve encountered anywhere, either on or off the web.
As for the financial side of it – maybe you could think of it as a legacy for your kids (or maybe grandkids…)