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Post-Traumatic Gaming Disorder

Read my ramblings and misadventures in gaming. I have a serious case of ADD when it comes to my recreational time, so expect coverage of just about everything from board games to video games and more.
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On Kickstarter, Shadowrun Returns, and the evolution of the gaming industry

Ryan DeLano
United States
West Valley City
Utah
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I was first introduced to Kickstarter when I happened to catch threads surrounding the D-Day Dice campaign here on the Geek. When the creator of the game, Emmanuel Aquin, announced that he would be starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund a commercial version of the game, I don't think he could have imagined the the kind of response he would receive.

The campaign, which could only be described as an incredible success, holds the record currently as the highest funded board game on the site. The game nearly tripled the financial goal that was set within the first 72 hours. Emmanuel and Valley Games responded with rewards in the form of more cards that would be distributed to Kickstarter supporters when the game was released. As the numbers climbed, so did the rewards, culminating in the game reaching 1,321% funding by the time the campaign was over.

I personally managed to get in on one of the "Line For Life" offers, which guaranteed me the game and all future expansions. What drew me to it was not only the theme, and the positive praise that the game had received. I was also drawn in by the sheer momentum of the campaign itself, and the frenzy of support it was receiving. I was captivated as I watched it unfold. That amazing success, and the appearance of other equally awesome projects, is what inspired me to write this post.

I genuinely think we are in the early stages of a paradigm shift for the gaming industry as a whole. If you take a look at efforts by some manufacturers, such as Decipher and other companies offering print on demand and mail order content, you can see what I believe are the beginnings of a shift away from brick & mortar retailers into what might be considered a "game on demand" atmosphere. I don't think the shift will be as drastic as what MP3's were/are doing to the music industry. I believe it will be more akin to what platforms like Steam are doing to the video game industry, which is simply offering a new distribution method and a new avenue opportunity for developers.

In a previous blog post, I described some Indie games on the PC that I can't stop playing. Well that trend continues to this day, and I doubt I'm alone. I'm tired of the same old games being repackaged for my consumption by companies that prefer to play it safe by making endless sequels to popular franchises, or recycling content into a new $60 package. I honestly think that a parallel will soon be able to be drawn to tabletop gaming as well. I don't need a new retheme of the same games I already own/enjoy. I want something new, something different. We are fortunate, I think, that we don't have to endure the same level of this in tabletop gaming that video games do, but it exists nonetheless.

Much like the video game industry, I don't think that traditional marketing and manufacturing will be replaced by things like Kickstarter or P500 systems, but I do think that it will open up new opportunities for aspiring game creators to present their ideas to the community, and receive honest feedback from their potential consumers. I think that's a very valuable and positive thing to have in any industry. It's going to provide competition, variety, and a great amount of exposure for games and their designers that would previously have been impossible.

It also allows for people like Jordan Weisman, the creator of Shadowrun, to create a game that, in my mind, would previously have been impossible to fund. Shadowrun Returns is a project to create a 2D RPG in the Shadowrun RPG world as he originally envisioned it. As a fan of Shadowrun since 1992 or so, I almost exploded with sheer joy when I saw this. My fervent fanboyism aside, this campaign showed me another possibility for a community-funded system like this, which is the ability for veteran game-makers to completely circumvent the corporate marketing machine and create something true to their original vision. Given historical evidence, if Mr. Weisman had intended to make this game in the traditional way, it would have been taken and warped into some Angry Birds clone for the iPad rethemed into a Seattle 2050 setting where you tossed dwarves with machine guns into dragons (someone go make that). In other words, nothing like what the original intention was, and something that makes no sense in the context of the source material.

I could not be happier with the addition of things like Kickstarter into our gaming universe. I think it can only bring an interesting variety of new choices, and a resurrection of old dreams for both developers and fans of their work. I feel good knowing that I'm helping to contribute to someone else's dream, and my own at the same time. I don't see anything bad about that. If a game isn't worth investment, it simply won't be funded, and with any luck, those who developed it will take that feedback, and keep trying. I'm excited to see many more of these new ideas on my table.
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