Helping The Little Guy: Why We Need to Ninja Kick Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a place full of ridiculously amazing success stories. It’s incredible what a just a few hundred strangers can do to help fund a project they collectively believe in.

One of the more intriguing things to me about Kickstarter is it’s successful history with making Board Games. For instance, a board game about author H.P. Lovecraft‘s “Cthulhu”, Cthulhu Wars, raised over $1.3 million. Another game, Zombicide 2, raised $2.2 million. That’s a lot of millions!

But, this isn’t to say that there haven’t been projects which failed terribly. A notable recent example is Glory to Rome, a Kickstarter that was very successful and overfunded, but errors and underestimations abounded. The creator ended up losing his house trying to make the game. Sad and crazy story.

So now we have a new trend, and it’s kinda crappy. Indie games are getting shut out by the bigger game companies. Bigger game companies are all like: Hey co-workers, we already have have the money to print the game, but if we use Kickstarter, we can increase our print runs to lower our per-unit cost AND MAKE EVEN MORE MONEY, MUAHHAHAA!!!

Awesome idea for the companies that can already afford it, right?! And why not, if you also have the budget to make mad awesome videos for fans that will see it and scream, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!”? Big companies are golden.

But now, in times like these, we have to remember the little companies The ones we went on Kickstarter to support in the first place are being overshadowed by richer, mightier powers. And what’s worse is that “big companies” only put up funding goals in the $20k – $30k range. An indie game that doesn’t already have the print money, would need $50k – $100k, depending on its size and scope, in order to make the game. Therefore, the “big companies” are creating a perception issue: Gamers start to think that $20 – $30k is the full manufacturing cost. It’s not.

As funders, we need to ninja kick Kickstarter.

Right now, there is a awesome ninja game called Shuriken, which already raised appx. $30k with appx. 25 days to go (at time of publish). Brian Wood and Jon Cazares of Awesome Enterprise are very transparent about their costs. Everything is broken down on their Kickstarter page — at once to educate people and also to create a production-oriented involvement for their funders. Additionally, they pledge to continue documenting the entire process and share with us the full behind-the-scenes-makings a board game.

I was invited to blind playtest Shuriken with a group of friends. Blind Testing means the creators of the game are not involved in gameplay with strangers. Awesome Enterprise sent out around 100 blind play-tests. They took feedback seriously and made necessary adjustments before they finally decided to create their Kickstarter.

With my group of five, we were able to easily figure out how to play… and we had a blast doing it. Discovering a board game as a group is a past-time that I think everyone should enjoy beyond just the Scrabbles and Apples to Apples. Try something NEW!

For myself, at least, seeing people aim to make the system work and educate others in the process are people I’m willing to support. Check out Shuriken, for great justice!

** I’ll be back next week to report about 2013’s San Diego Comic Con and will also have special Video Games Live tickets to give away!! Stay tuned!! Find me on Twitter to stay in touch about SDCC while I’m on the floor @michelemorrow


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