Lessons of the Witcher: Compensation

I’ve been playing The Witcher III with the dedication of a 16 year old boy to his first real girlfriend. I’ve clocked around 50 hours, and it will have been two weeks as of tomorrow. I’m still not tired of the game, for more reasons than I can put in one post. So let’s start out with a concept I really like, a concept the writers both make seem villainous and necessary. Compensation for a unique skill set.

In the game, you play a witcher, a monster hunting nonhuman who was once human, but went through a bunch of mutations so when you’re going up against a griffin, it doesn’t just snap you in two. You go around the world answering contracts for aid. It’s in your loose code that you must be financially compensated in some form for a job well done.

As I’m playing, peasants and nobles alike call me a low life, a bottom feeder, a heartless ass. Yet, the guy who took in an orphan? I did his job for free. Not only did he post a job for his buddy’s revenge, he took in his buddy’s son. Now, the tower of a lost magic user? I took his money, then the money from the folks of the village. The sorcerer was basically giving me a tip, and the town could work again, so they’d make money. The guy who didn’t have coin at the time? I came back a week later. There is the option to be more heartless.

Geralt, the witcher, goes around saving people. He kills creatures so villages can survive. They begrudge him payment. As artists, this happens all the time. Sure we aren’t slaying griffins, but we entertain. People used to get treated really well for being skalds, bards, poets, and so on. Today, people tell us we should do that for free. Do marketing for free.

But how many people in higher positions do we demand this of? How many “witchers” out there do we say, “Why can’t you do it for free? We’d die if you don’t do it.” We want healthcare to be free, but we don’t have a good way to compensate doctors. They should do it for cheap, because it’s saving us. What about the CEO that makes it so we can get fast food, cheap appliances, quality computers? They provide countless jobs, they create economic growth, they put unbelievable stress on them and their families. But they should do it for free.

People seem to expect others to be free, but those same farmers will balk that they’re not paid enough for their goods, which would be all burned down if the witcher didn’t kill the drake. Our world works the same way, more and more with the passing days. People aren’t paid based on what they do, but based upon the perception of others who don’t know what has been done.

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