It can take years to break through and become a master of your craft. So why do so many people equate art with little or no value when they want or need it? If you aspire to work as a professional creative or you currently are working in a creative field chances are you've probably met your fair share of those who think they can do what you can yet are still asking you to do it.
The great irony being that they see value enough in your work to ask you, but not enough to provide value in return.
The Choosy Beggar Problem
Are you looking for high quality artwork but don't want to spend much (if anything)? You might be a choosy beggar. Browse the subreddit of ChoosingBeggars and you'll often find a number of ridiculous requests from people online for art from a logo to a caricature...and getting offended at the idea of spending money for it.
If you want to become a professional 2D artist, writer, musician or 3D modeler, you better get ready for the beggars to come knocking. And that doesn't exclude game development!
Early on in my career, I received numerous "profit sharing" requests from people thinking they have the next hit game idea (don't we all). All they wanted me to do is create the entire game, and they'd share the profits. Programmers can relate to getting pitched app ideas that are an alleged goldmine. The truth is, ideas alone aren't really worth that much, especially when presented without a professional pitch deck and business plan. A great idea without action is dead in the water.
So why do people seem to equate creative fields with less value?
The Experience Dilemma
Second, people tend to equate value with the time spent on completing something. But time isn't always the best measure of quality: a sketch might take me, an average illustrator, a full day. A master artist will complete it in an hour. Who's work should be worth more?
You've probably heard the story of Picasso charging 5,000 Francs for a quick sketch. "But it only took you 5 minutes!" complains his outraged client. "No, madam," replies Picasso, "it took me my whole life."
Whether true or not, this anecdote sums up the misleading "time-equals-cost" idea.
It reminds me of my time working in IT. People would complain "My computer is down, what do we pay you for?" or, alternatively, "My computer is working fine, what do we pay you for?" People tend to think they can do your job when they see you do it and then say "that's it?". They forget the past failures and obstacles to overcome to get to the point where it was actually easy for you.
Paying the Happiness Tax
The happiness tax concept is also prevalent in creative fields, implying that because you enjoy what you do, that's already your form of payment. Game Developers, while paid well at times, tend to suffer from this. They work doing something they love, so it's often assumed they could get paid less. Game Development like many other creative fields can be incredibly rewarding, but can often times come with grueling work.
Enjoying your work is great, and indeed, something we all want, but have you tried paying your rent with a 10/10 job satisfaction score? The highest quality work tends to come from those who really enjoy what they do. We need higher quality work out there, and that only comes from those who have a mastery of what they do. That often comes from dedication to sticking with something over the long term. Value of work done should be based on quality, not on the feelings of those making it. Should you pay more because I hate doing the work? It's the "feelings" based equivalent of using time to determine value.