The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers
The Indie Guru

Allen Varney | 6 Mar 2007 07:04
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Pavlina is well on his way to his own million. Though he charges nothing for his writing or podcasts, the ad-supported blog is quite profitable. In October 2006, he claimed the site earned $1,000 daily. Characteristically, the author has turned his experience into an article, "How to Make Money From Your Blog."

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The last section of Pavlina's essay "The Courage to Live Consciously" is titled "Embrace the Daring Adventure." Even now, as a fan of his writings, I read this cornball phrase with a reflexive snort of contempt.

Which is odd, because I'm doing that.

Pavlina is the only game developer (that I know of) who migrated to self-help. But leaving aside the game angle, his story, and his message, follow the conventional American myth of early mistakes, redemption, hard work, persistence and ultimate success. Every personal-growth guru tells that exact story. Yet each guru appeals to a different base, a particular audience receptive to his or her unique approach.

Pavlina connects with game designers not only through his analytical method, but through his understanding of their issues. Some of them feel trapped and powerless in dead-end jobs. Others, for various reasons, disdain marketing or the overhead involved in running a company. Some of them have wasted six years in a dull and sterile suburb, stuck in a torpid life of web surfing and dog-walking, feeling old and stiff and mean. One of them, anyway.

This rarefied demographic, and increasingly the broader internet audience, responds to Pavlina's restatement of timeless lessons. See, for instance, his conclusion to "The Courage to Live Consciously":

"Don't die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be. You may go broke. You may experience failure and rejection repeatedly. You may endure multiple dysfunctional relationships. But these are all milestones along the path of a life lived courageously. They are your private victories, carving a deeper space within you to be filled with an abundance of joy, happiness and fulfillment."

The people I tell about Malaysia wish me well, but I see the questions in their eyes. It does sound weird. Yet Malaysia has skilled coders who work cheap, and I can base the business in nearby Singapore, where the business climate is good. The government of Singapore offers loans and perks for new game companies. (I'd live in Singapore myself, but it's too expensive.) If I planned to smuggle drugs or chew gum, I wouldn't go. But if I'm choosing a censorious money-mad paternalistic police state, I could do worse.

One friend, acting with good will, thought it prudent to caution me about what could go wrong. I could lose all my money (he pointed out helpfully), or get sick, or have language difficulties, or have software trouble, or fall desperately behind schedule, or discover my project won't work. That I still snort at "Embrace the Daring Adventure" shows my commitment is weak. The whole thing could blow up in my face.

All of that may be true. But you know what? I'm moving to Southeast Asia, and he's not going anywhere.

Are you?

Allen Varney designed the PARANOIA paper-and-dice roleplaying game (2004 edition) and has contributed to computer games from Sony Online, Origin, Interplay and Looking Glass.

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