The Play’s the Thing: Geralt the Entrepreneur

The Play’s the Thing: Geralt the Entrepreneur

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You’re probably wondering now how Geralt’s theatrical debut ties in with my earlier comparison to modern entrepreneurialism. While I’m not necessarily suggesting you go out and put on your own plays in an attempt to lure out strange and magical creatures (by all means, if you can Kickstart it and it’s your dream, run with it), there are still things freelance professionals can learn from Geralt and how he gets his civilian work done:

1. Keep your mind open to opportunity

People don’t play The Witcher to live out their dreams as an amateur Medieval playwright, but CD Projekt Red took the risk anyway which, overall, I’m pretty happy they did. Not only that, but to put this within the main questline lets us see Geralt’s flexibility as a professional, that no task is beneath him, especially when it comes to those he loves (Ciri, Dandelion, and Dudu all to varying degrees). As a mercenary, he’s free to walk the world across national and cultural borders, pledging allegiance to the highest bidder with respect to Geralt’s morality (and that of the player controlling him).

Similarly, freelancers must seek out their work in unconventional ways, relying on their wit and relationships rather than sheer loyalty over months and years in a single place. Of course, I’m not advocating flipping sides to whoever’s paying the most regardless of competition — even Geralt maneuvers the courts of kings and emperors with a great deal of tact — but at least revel in the unique position you’re in: you are the master of your work, but it falls upon you to live up to that claim.

2. Stick to what you know

Being a freelancer/mercenary also requires one to be well-rounded. As “The Play’s the Thing” exhibits, despite Geralt’s primary trade as a monster-slayer, he also knows how to handle people and leverage his skills, applying in ways outside his usual routine. For example, when hiring the ushers, you can go about it a few ways:

  • Pay the ushers: for the low, low price of 70 coins, you can simply pay for their services and be on your way… or, if you have a hard time parting with your money…
  • Fight the ushers and prove your mettle: ushers, in this case, don’t just mean gentlemen who help you to your seat. These guys are mean, all sinewy and tattooed, spending their days fighting each other at the docks — perfect for keeping any rabble from throwing rotten produce at your actor friends. While you have the chance to recruit the ushers for free (in exchange for a few bruises and split knuckles), you gotta stake double the wages (that is, 140 coins for our math-challenged friends) on the fight. If you win, you get the ushers and your money back. You lose… well… they help you anyway, but you’re down quite a bit more.

Personally, I kinda suck at hand-to-hand encounters and I was in a hurry so I just paid the guy. But other players who enjoy smacking around strangers might feel differently. It’s a matter of knowing your strengths and weighing out your costs (for me, it was time and the risk of losing twice as much money).

Same applies for the work you do as a freelancer. If you’re a graphic designer, don’t try to take on a programming project that requires in-depth knowledge of Java functions if you have no coding experience. If you’re used to programming but have a hard time explaining your code, it’s probably best to not say yes to a contract that requires a lot of documentation and technical manual writing. That isn’t to say you have to pick a role and stick with it forever. Just find what speaks to you and git gud at it.

Besides, that’s what practice is for.

3. Perception is everything

Whether we like it or not, the world is always judging us. Honestly, we shouldn’t take all of it too personally since we spend enough time judging everyone else in return. The key, however, is to be aware of these perceptions: how you see the world and how it sees you.

Geralt isn’t necessarily the most welcome sight to the average layman of The Witcher universe. In fact, there’s plenty of moments where xenophobic slurs are flung at him, reminders of how, despite their need for his services, witchers are mutants as far as the common folk are concerned. But Geralt knows too that he doesn’t do his work for their praise, but for their coin and to hone his skills as a monster slayer. While others might hate him, whether as an adversary by the unjust or a misunderstood monster by the ignorant, he is the subject of dozens of songs and stories detailing his quests across the world.

Specific to “The Play’s the Thing,” Geralt uses the sensitivities of the audience to his advantage when luring out Dudu. Like most choices in The Witcher 3, the seemingly minute ones sometimes have unforeseen consequences that can boil over in violence. In one case, an outburst from the crowd might hinge upon whether the play is a comedy or tragedy. Through numerous playthroughs, I’ve noticed two things:

  • If you choose a comedy, the rabble in the back shouts a few angry things, but calm down as their friends urge them not to take the play seriously. It’s just a comedy after all.
  • If you choose a tragedy, the same rabble gets worked up and consider you and the trouple of preaching heresy, trying to sway the crowd into sympathizing with non-human fiends who ought to be purged. The ushers you hired then get to earn their pay that evening.

As freelancers, we must be aware of our audience — the clients we wish to work for and the consumers who enjoy our content or products — as well as how they see us — as people who are capable of their craft. You know you’ve made it when people seek you out for work rather than you needing to seek out work. In other words, work until you no longer have to introduce yourself.

4. If at first you don’t succeed, try again

Finally, the old adage still rings true both in Novigrad and whatever town you find yourself in whilst reading these very words. Regardless of what it is you’re doing, if you fail, there’s always another way… well, to some extent. In a professional capacity, you can’t act without some concern for the quality of your work. Even when Geralt intends on doing the right thing, some unforeseen consequences can pave that road straight to Hell.

When faced with a challenge, however, there’s always multiple angles to attack a single problem. You just need to look at it from a different angle. Where you can just reload before a quest in case you make a wrong decision, the best way to cover your bases in the real world is to have good friends to act as your moral and professional compass. If you haven’t made a habit of it already, including your close friends in conversations to help strategize mutual goals is a great way to find new ideas to old problems you might not have seen before.

Given time and patience (and application of the other aforementioned principles), you’ll continue to improve as one of the modern day digital contractors. But much like Geralt of Rivia, we not only must keep our eyes on the endgame, but enjoy the journey, going with the flow and leveraging the resources we have to achieve victory. Or successful project completion before that deadline. Both are pretty satisfying once payday rolls around.

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Anthony Magestro

Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.