I’m being interviewed by Lamin Kivelä from Swedish design magazine CAP&Design. I’m posting the answer here first because the answer is owed to my backers first, though I’m appreciative for the prompt to write this.
If I understand correctly, the food on your table comes from contract work and donations? How big part of your income comes from the games and what comes from contract work?
I think the answer merits some nuance. I looked into the first twelve months I’ve had the donation page up, and compared it to my income in the same period: the answer is 25%. So it is a significant portion of my income. But numbers don’t tell the full story.
I live a modest lifestyle by choice, and I take the least amount of contract work possible. There’s nothing more precious to me than having time to explore what I want at the moment, and aligning this with client work is often tricky, because clients need practical problems resolved. Nothing bad to say about clients, well chosen clients bring good practical problems in alignment to your current areas of interest and are a blessing.
However, backers for me are the salt of this earth. With their contribution I am able to afford time for myself, and wether I invest it in some form of personal development (I’m a lot into yoga these days) or in the form of creative development, or even if I squander it moaning on the couch, I feel the contribution from backers is not representative of the capacity it has to set my own priorities and have agency in my life.
Other than getting their name listed, backers receive no benefits, rewards, or access to exclusive content. They don’t even get a thank you email. Given the importance their contribution brings to my life, it would seem I don’t care much, but I actually do.
The rewardless action makes it much more meaningful and I’ve built some rituals around it. Every time I receive a donation, I say out loud “Thank you _”. Each donation is for me like a vote of confidence, and that person is granting me not only the means to carve some time for myself, it also infuses meaning into what I do.
Once per month, I log into PayPal and manually copy and paste each name and update the html file. I do it every month, but not on the 1st, instead, I take care to find a moment where I can connect with appreciation (if I am busy I can be disconnected), and again I express my gratitude in these actions.
So donations are not really a quarter of my income, they are a source of meaning and time for playing, creating and enjoying life, and that’s much more valuable than the slice of the pie that it represents.