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Lockdown in China: The Consequences

Board Game: Shogun no Katana
[Editor's note: Mario Sacchi, CEO and lead developer of Placentia Games and Post Scriptum, regularly blogs about game development and production on the Post Scriptum Games blog on BGG. This article was first published on May 6, 2022 on that blog. —WEM]

We have to say that this article is gloomier than usual, covering the worst accident that has ever happened to Post Scriptum in seventeen years of business, with this being only the latest of a long series of accidents that have hit all the supply chains in the world. Nevertheless, in the end you'll find a sparkle of hope which confirms that we are determined not to give up or get discouraged; we will continue to do our work, which we love very much.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Here we go again.

The finish line was in sight: Shogun no Katana's launch seemed near, possibly even in time for the Play game fair that's scheduled to take place in Modena, Italy at the end of May. Everything was planned for the delivery of the boxes, and we were looking forward to touching our years' worth of work, admiring the miniatures, getting a whiff of the freshly printed cards...

When this happened –> From CNN: "Hunger and anger in Shanghai's unending lockdown nightmare".

From gallery of W Eric Martin

As you might imagine, we had entrusted the production of most of Katana's materials to a Chinese company, one with its offices in Shanghai, a region that is now in complete lockdown.

Obviously, we are first and foremost devastated for the drama that our Chinese colleagues are living, colleagues who are being forced to live in fenced houses to prevent them from going out, but even though we can't compare our situation with theirs, we are also experiencing serious problems.

First, we have no clue as to when this situation is going to be over. Then, even if they reopen shortly, we can predict neither when production will return to a normal pace, nor when our games will be produced or when they will actually be shipped. (You won't be surprised to hear that Katana is not the only game in queue to be printed.)

It's not sure whether we will manage to publish it by SPIEL '22, and this is horrible news for us as we had already planned a great stand, and we now must completely change our plans.

We are sorry about this situation, and we completely understand how frustrating it is for our backers and for those who are looking forward to buying it in their favorite shop. We, as boardgame enthusiasts and as Katana's "parents" couldn't wait to play a game on which we have worked so hard and so passionately, from game development to the obsessively thorough care for the materials.

For us as entrepreneurs, this unforeseeable delay has presented a serious blow to our business, which relies a lot on this game. We can keep going thanks to a diversified strategy and many collaborations, but we must admit that we are living a time of discouragement and worry for our business.

As I mentioned in this article, games that are launched on Kickstarter are almost exclusively produced by Chinese companies. This is true for almost all boardgame publishers in the world, not only because it is more affordable, but because the companies that we work with have a highly structured business with high-tech solutions specifically for board game production, especially for the creation of miniatures.

The downside, as you probably already understand, is that we rely completely on one or two suppliers — for Katana, we have one for the miniatures and one for the rest — and when something like this happens, there's nothing you can do.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

But here's the sparkle of hope: Post Scriptum is the dream of a lifetime, and we won't let a production delay, no matter how serious, bring us down. We know that the delivery is guaranteed; the advance payments have been paid, and the funds for the balance are secured. We need only to be more patient.

That said, it is time for us to find more sustainable alternative solutions, such as new European (or, why not, American) suppliers, even for more complex materials in our games.

This is not an easy choice because the costs are higher, the technology is less advanced, and because our Chinese colleagues have proven to be extremely professional, and we have built a relationship of mutual respect and trust.

This is also part of managing a business: predicting how the wind is going to change, and unfurling the sails in the right direction to expeditiously advance towards future projects.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

We would like to ask you a question: In order to produce somewhere else, we have to use fewer plastic miniatures and more cardboard and wood. What do you expect from our games in this sense? What entices you in a game that doesn't have miniatures? Printed meeples, paper goods, many boards on the table? We would like to hear your opinion in order to create your ideal game, with the highest quality in reasonable times, so please comment here or hit us up on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Telegram) as we can't wait to hear from you.

And please subscribe to our BGG blog not to miss any of Post Scriptum's articles!
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Mon May 9, 2022 1:00 pm
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Pies Are Made for Slicing: Cutting Berried Treasure Down to Size

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Berried Treasure
In mid-April 2022, I wrote about Sid Sackson's Berried Treasure from Restoration Games, stating among other things that the box is comically large for the components included.

I understand all the reasons why publishers use boxes that seem larger than they need to be, but I also understand that once a game is in your hands, you can do with it whatever you like (within the legal statutes of your town and country). Thus, I have now rightsized my copy of Berried Treasure, shrinking it to less than a quarter of its original size.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In the video below, I give a short update on the game itself — I've now played with five players, and the game is great at that count — then present an abbreviated run-through of how to resize a box, starting with general principles, then jumping from step to step in this project. The entire process took about an hour, and I was doing multiple takes of some video segments, shooting photos of the transformation, and otherwise interrupting myself, so you probably wouldn't need that much time to do something like this yourself.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Cutting up boxes might not be your thing, and if not, well, that's fine. You do whatever seems best with the games on your shelf. That said, if you ever throw out game boxes, e.g., expansion boxes because you packed the components into the box of the base game, maybe consider trying a project like this, transforming that expansion box into a card holder or bit bin. That box is garbage anyway, so you might as well experiment and see whether rightsizing might secretly be for you.

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Mon May 2, 2022 1:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2022 Preview Is Live; Masks No Longer Required at the Show

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
With conventions scheduled to take place somewhat as normal in 2022, I've started assembling convention previews once again, with the Origins Game Fair 2022 Preview now live on BGG.

The preview lists barely more than a dozen titles right now, but it will fill out more as we get closer to Origins, which runs June 8-12, and as we work our way through publisher surveys about games that they will sell or demo at Origins, Gen Con 2022, and SPIEL '22. Yes, I'm working on all three of those previews at once, and I'll have assistance from Stephen Cordell in doing so, which should be a huge help in staying up-to-date once we move into June and publishers started flooding out announcements.

Speaking of Origins, on April 29, 2022, organizers announced an update to its "covid safety plan to reflect that mask usage is highly recommended, but not required to attend". An excerpt from the announcement:
Quote:
Please be aware that we have not made this decision lightly and believe that it is the prudent course of action to reflect where we currently are with the goal of having a safe and productive show for our exhibitors and sponsors.

Please be aware that we will continue our policy that all attendees and partners who are eligible to be vaccinated, do so and provide proof of vaccination to attend the convention. Photo or the actual card are acceptable. You will need to have received you second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine or the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine by May 24, 2022, to be admitted to enter.
John Stacy, Executive Director of GAMA, explained the reason for this change in a series of tweets, noting that "This decision was made by me as executive director of GAMA in consultation with other large-scale conventions, both inside and outside our industry, and a review of our local health requirements in Columbus Ohio." Here are excerpts from those tweets in a paragraph format:
Quote:
Most of the attendees at Origins drive to the show from the states around Ohio. And it was becoming clear that the mask mandate was discouraging many of them to attend. I prefer masks and will wear mine, as least to keep the con crud down if nothing else. But in this part of the Midwest, people are not wearing masks in everyday life. Many of our past attendees have been very vocal about why it didn’t make sense to require masks if none of the hotels, restaurants or shops around the convention were doing likewise. And to be honest I cannot fault their logic.

My primary job with Origins is to make sure our exhibitors, many of whom are our members, have a safe, productive and profitable show. They spend a lot of money to attend the show and I want to make it a good investment of their time, energy, and money by having as many attendees as possible to discover and buy their products... Therefore I believe that requiring proof of vaccination is a more effective safety measure than masks, which are often worn improperly or not at all. I agreed that wearing N95/KN95 masks and vaccines are the best way forward for a B2B show like GAMA EXPO, but for a consumer show like Origins I have to meet our attendees where they are, and by and large that is not wearing masks.

[B]ecause we understand that some exhibitors would not be comfortable with this decision, we extended the roll-over period for exhibitors till May 11, which is two weeks after we notified them and three weeks prior to the show. We have had a few exhibitors elect to rollover and that we support that as its [sic] what is best for their teams. However, at the end of the day I have do what I believe is the best for the other exhibitors to make sure I can get at many attendees as possible to at the show.

Will this change make some people decide to stay home? Yes, I am sure it will. I also believe that it is the best course forward to make sure those who decide to come at the last minute have one less reason to stay away.
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Sun May 1, 2022 3:00 pm
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Ten Years of Love Letters from Seiji Kanai

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Love Letter
On May 13, 2012 at Tokyo Game Market, designer Seiji Kanai of Kanai Factory released Love Letter, a tiny game that I would argue has been one of the most influential games of the past decade, thanks both to its clever design and to the release of this design on a larger market courtesy of U.S. publisher AEG, which signed a license after Kanai demoed the game to AEG owner John Zinser during an elevator ride.

Here's part of what I wrote about the game in August 2012 following my first exposure:
Quote:
AEG's Ed Bolme taught Love Letter to me and fellow BGG admins Scott Reed and Chad Krizan at Gen Con 2012, and we played a couple of rounds around a garbage can while BSing about various things. The next day, Bolme caught me and Reed walking across the convention hall for an interview with someone, and we played a round of the game while walking past all the booths. Few games meet that standard of portability — plus the design is incredibly clever. A tiny masterpiece...
That masterpiece has been in print continually since 2012, with dozens of versions of the game having been released by publishers around the world and more than three million copies sold, according to Arclight, the game's current Japanese publisher. You can find a summary of Love Letter versions and spinoffs on the BGG family page.

Board Game: Love Letter
Board Game: Lovecraft Letter
Board Game: Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game
Board Game: Love Letter: Princess Princess Ever After

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Love Letter, Arclight plans to release three new editions of the game, although one won't appear until 2023. Sometimes mail takes a while to reach its destination...

The first title, due out in August 2022, is simply titled ラブレター 第2版, that is, Love Letter: 2nd Edition. Here's a short description from Arclight:
Quote:
While keeping the same core mechanism as the original Love Letter, the second edition adds sixteen new cards — scholar, servants, etc. — that players can either swap out original cards for or simply add them to the deck for a wilder game. The original illustrator, Noboru Sugiura, will be part of this project, with her well-loved style appearing in a new and refreshed graphic design.
Board Game: Love Letter: 2nd Edition

The second title, coming in late 2022, is ラブレター10周年記念版, or Love Letter: 10th Anniversary Edition, which serves as a compilation of all that's come before:
Quote:
Love Letter has been translated into 28 languages, with a great variety of versions based on strong licenses: Batman, The Lord of the Rings (The Hobbit), Archer, Adventure Time, etc.

Love Letter: 10th Anniversary Edition will gather all unique rules and extra components found in those earlier games in one package for the first time! Players will therefore be able to choose between a wide variety of play styles. We are planning a big crowdfunding campaign this year for it, so keep an eye on our next announcements!
Finally, the first half of 2023 will bring ラブレター・ストーリーズ, or Love Letter: Stories, with this title being tentative at this time. Arclight's teaser is even shorter, albeit more intriguing, for this title:
Quote:
In this ambitious title by Seiji Kanai, players will experience a different story-driven game each and every time they play. More information on this future title will follow soon.
Feel free to share your love letters about this game to celebrate its tenth anniversary!

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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Mon Apr 18, 2022 7:00 pm
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Colorblind Gaming 101

Brian Chandler
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Microbadge: Gaming Site OwnerMicrobadge: Copper ReviewerMicrobadge: ColorblindMicrobadge: Rules EditorMicrobadge: Stonemaier Champion
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on author Brian Chandler's Colorblind Games website. —WEM

Up to 90 percent of tabletop gaming is visual, and much of that information is color-specific. From player tokens to cards to the board itself, color is an integral part of the gaming experience. Unfortunately, for colorblind gamers, this information has little or no meaning or causes confusion, making play difficult or impossible.

An estimated 4-5% of the population has some sort of color vision deficiency, and others suffer from low vision. The effects of colorblindness are not well-documented, and in many cases game designers, developers, and publishers inadvertently alienate this part of the community.

From gallery of chandlerb22
From gallery of chandlerb22

The Science of Color Vision

Seeing begins behind your eyeballs with rods and cones. Two photoreceptors on the retina take information from the environment, through our eyes, and to the brain. The rods handle light-related information, and the cones handle color. The three cones take certain areas of the spectrum — red (R), green (G), or blue (B) — to the brain, like an old "RGB" computer monitor. The combination of these three cones produces color vision.

If any of the cones has a problem, the color absorbed by that cone changes, which then changes the RGB combination received by the brain. Because any one of the cones can malfunction (or be missing altogether), the type and severity of colorblindness are nuanced. No colorblind person sees the world in exactly the same way as another, which is one reason addressing this issue is complicated. It's also why running a game design through an online colorblind filter is not enough.

The most common type of color vision deficiency is Deuteranomaly, a malfunctioning of the green cone. A red cone malfunction, called Protanomaly, is also possible. Rarely, one of these cones may be missing altogether; this is called Deutronopia (green) or Protanopia (red). Rarer still are malfunctioning or missing blue cones: Tritanomoly and Tritanopia.

From gallery of chandlerb22
Colorblind simulation from colorblind awareness

The cone problems that cause color vision deficiency impact are much more than a single color. Any faulty or missing cone (red, green, or blue) impacts color identification along the entire spectrum. Our overall color perception tends to be lower, increasing color confusion and the ability to identify colors by name.

Impacts of Colorblindness on Game Night

Get ready for a little math.

If six players sit down to the table, there is an estimated 4.25% chance any one of them is colorblind. Thus, by the power of compound probability of independent events (thanks, Kahn Academy), we know there is a 23% chance that at least one person at that table is colorblind.

From gallery of chandlerb22

If you were to run a larger game night with forty participants, there is an 82% chance at least one player at your event will be colorblind, which will impact multiple games and multiple tables during the event. A small convention of 100 is almost guaranteed to have at least colorblind attendee and on average will have four.

"We've given up with board games..."

Recently on Twitter, in a thread related to color vision accessibility, I read this tweet from a mother of two colorblind children: "We've given up with board games. Two colourblind kids and there's no fun in them. I recommend giving Gravitrax and Screwball Scramble as fun games that aren't like board games and not colour based!"

This response hit me hard. Anyone giving up on tabletop gaming is heartbreaking, and more work encouraging accessibility can help make it easier for more people to play more games.

Colorblind Gaming Solutions

The needs of colorblind gamers — approximately 4-5% of the population — are significant as we navigate tabletop spaces at home, at the bar, and at our friendly local game store. Current practices fail to provide an accessible environment for colorblind users, illustrated in the potential confusion caused by colors used in some games.

Addressing these needs starts with basic accessibility principles and continues with specific examples — some in gaming and some from other industries — to improve accessibility for colorblind players, and in turn, making the experience better for everyone at the table.

Accessibility Principles

Ian Hamilton, an accessibility specialist in Bristol, England, identifies three key principles related to colorblindness in game design.

1. Don't use color difference alone to communicate or differentiate information. The concept of "double-coding" is often used to support colorblind people in disciplines beyond transportation. For example, Fantastic Factories incorporates double-coding that provides another level of information beyond color to differentiate game pieces. (See my Fantastic Factories review here)

2. Check with a simulator to pick up on contrast issues. For any situation where a colorblind perspective is needed, software tools can give anyone a starting point to approximate what some colorblind users may see. COBLIS is a browser-based simulator that allows users to upload an image from their computer and simulate a variety of color vision deficiencies.

3. Run by colorblind folk to identify other issues you've missed. Colorblind people are often willing to share their experiences to help make products and experiences more accessible. Be sure to note, however, that color vision deficiency varies widely by type and degree, so something one colorblind person can see clearly could still be problematic for someone else.

From gallery of chandlerb22
COBLIS Colorblind Simulator

Colorblind Accessible Games

Many tabletop designers, graphic designers, artists, and illustrators have done an incredible job ensuring colorblind accessibility in their games. Here are just a few examples:

Agropolis from Button Shy Games is based on color, yet incorporates subtle design elements for each zone type to distinguish them from each other.

Elizabeth Hargrave's Mariposas (with graphic design by Matt Paquette) incorporates clever elements to ensure colorblind gamers can play. (Review)

The Isle of Cats, designed by Frank West, does two things very well. First, it incorporates double-coding into the animal designs themselves. It also provides a player aid specifically for colorblind gamers to help them maintain autonomy during play. (Review)

See a few other examples below, including Vamp on the Batwalk, designed by Jon Simantov and published by Jellyfish Game Studios (Review)

From gallery of chandlerb22

From gallery of chandlerb22

From gallery of chandlerb22

Colorblind Accessibility Mods

Some published games are not colorblind-friendly out of the box, but simple modifications can improve accessibility while maintaining the theme. On the Colorblind Games website, Sarah Reed wrote about her experience modding Qwirkle and Incan Gold to improve accessibility and playability for her family and friends.

From gallery of chandlerb22
Qwirkle with colorblind modifications

Following Sarah's lead, I've modified several games so that I can better distinguish their components, including Century Spice Road (see my review and mod review and mod notes), My Little Scythe (review), Mandala Stones (review), and Pandemic Hot Zone: North America.

From gallery of chandlerb22
Pandemic Hot Zone: North America


Next Steps

As you start your own accessibility journey, here are a few hints and tips to help you get started:

Consumers: Read reviews. I hate unboxing a game I cannot play, so I try to do some homework before each purchase. In addition to Colorblind Games, several other websites, including Can I Play That? and Meeple Like Us are fantastic resources that address a broad set of accessibility needs for gamers. Accessibility is entering more and more general reviews, too.

Gamers: Find and create mods. Modify games when needed, and don't worry about "messing up" your copy. I believe strongly that games are meant to be played. If your game is accessible to more people, then you'll get it to the table more often. Share your mods with others so that we can benefit from your creativity! See all my colorblind mods here.

Designers: Test for accessibility early. For designers and developers, get your prototypes in front of colorblind playtesters and try to think about their needs beforehand. Eric Slauson, designer of Tattoo Stories and MonsDRAWsity, shared these recommendations after a recent experience at Unpub:
Quote:
Designers, if you want the largest potential pool of playtesters, please make your prototypes colorblind friendly. I WANT to play your game and give feedback, but I legit can't. I've had to pass on so many playtests because of this.
Publishers: Expand your audience. For publishers, look at the numbers. It's not 4% of the gamers you exclude by not addressing colorblind needs, but 28% of game tables and nearly 100% of medium-sized events. Improving accessibility will grow your audience base, and designing with all users in mind will make your games better.

Conclusion

I'm working toward a future when articles like this will be unnecessary because designers will incorporate color vision accessibility into their prototypes, playtests, and final game designs; publishers will add color vision to their development and quality control processes for new games; and older, inaccessible games will receive new colorblind-friendly editions. Once that happens, I will write a final article of celebration, then spend more time playing games I love.
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Fri Apr 15, 2022 4:00 pm
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Women's History Month 2022 Round-up

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Votes for Women
With March 2022 having ended, I want to give thanks to Chris — a.k.a., iomio — for making the Celebrating Women's History Month — 2022 GeekList a reality.

Chris had contacted me (if I recall correctly) near the end of February 2021 to ask whether I'd be posting profiles of female creators in the game industry in March 2021 for Women's History Month, and I responded that I was burned out and couldn't possibly do so. Prior to covering games full-time, I used to write business profiles for a living, but I would write perhaps one profile a week during that time. Researching and writing a profile every day is a monumental task!

So Chris dove into organizing this project on her own, making a list of profile candidates, contacting them, asking questions, requesting images, and compiling all of this material in online folders that she shared with me in February 2022. I edited this material, added other images, created collages for the BGG front page, and published the profiles daily on the GeekList — but I could do this only thanks to her work, so please give her a round of applause and send all thanks her way.
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Mon Apr 4, 2022 7:00 pm
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Game Prep ASMR: Ark Nova

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Ark Nova
For those of you who feel that I'm a reckless madman who doesn't treat games well, I present an alternative side of myself.

Which one is the true Eric? Or are both true? Could Eric, in fact, be a multi-dimensional person who does different things at different times as the mood strikes him? I mean, he reportedly has at least three dimensions, so by default he's multi-dimensional, but I'm talking about the dimensions beyond those: length, breadth, width, squelth, farmpth, and so on.

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Mon Mar 28, 2022 5:00 pm
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Takeaways from GAMA Expo 2022: Distribution, TikTok, and...Normalcy?

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
I have other things to work on for BGG News posts, so for now I'm going to let this video stand on its own aside from this summary of its contents:

• Despite the need for a vaccine card and constant masking, GAMA Expo 2022 felt relatively normal — possibly because for me the hallmark of a show is talking with other humans that you are not normally around, and that's what I did. Talking with people felt good.

• Lots of folks were talking about TikTok, with publishers talking about increased awareness of featured games and the need to hire content creators to (wait for it) create content. BGG has a Tik Tok channel that we've barely used to this point, but I've now posted two videos on it, and we'll keep making more. If nothing else, this should inspire me to not take so damn long to complete anything. Work fast, publish, and get on to what's next!

• Game distributors in the U.S. seem like they're no longer bridging the gap effectively between publishers and retailers, with publishers sitting on games because distributors aren't ordering them and retailers not carrying games because (again) distributors aren't ordering them. Publishers seemed to be more aggressively pushing for direct-to-retail sales, and retailers were like, yes, please. Of course, many publishers are happy to take direct orders from individuals, but having your games on store shelves is even better since they will be seen by potential buyers who otherwise would never have known about them.

I end the video by showing off the handful of games that I took home from GAMA, along with a special non-game item that for some reason made me deliriously happy.

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Mon Mar 21, 2022 6:19 pm
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Kickstarter Answers(?) Questions about Its Blockchain Protocol Plans

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
In December 2021, Kickstarter announced a plan to fund and adopt a decentralized blockchain-based protocol. From my perspective, the plan did not effectively explain why Kickstarter plans to do this and what problems it hopes to solve.

On February 17, 2022, Kickstarter updated its FAQ to address some of the questions raised since its announcement. Here's the first question as an example of what you'll find on that page:
Quote:
What is Kickstarter trying to solve with the protocol?

The first thing to know is that Kickstarter's mission remains the same: Kickstarter exists to help bring creative projects to life.

We know there's a bigger world of creative projects than are currently supported by Kickstarter and we want to tackle the longstanding challenges holding the crowdfunding model back. Over the last decade, we've identified many challenges, including:

• Backers aren't sure they'll get their rewards (backer distrust)

Data confirms what we know anecdotally. Many backers have negative experiences with crowdfunding, most often because project rewards are late, below expectations, or not fulfilled at all. This risk prevents more backers from supporting creative work.

• Many projects struggle to reach all potential backers (low project distribution)

The typical funded Kickstarter project right now receives about 25% of its funding from backers who find the project through Kickstarter discovery channels, such as our project discovery pages, recommendations, newsletters, and social media. Creators bring their own audience, and also benefit from the networks of fans and supporters already on Kickstarter. This is one of the biggest reasons creators come back to Kickstarter again and again. Even so, we know we can do more, especially for smaller creators who are launching their first project, don't have a large existing audience, or don't benefit from a big budget to promote their project.

The world of people who would enthusiastically support a project extends well beyond a creator's network and Kickstarter's existing user base. But right now it can be hard or expensive to reach potential backers beyond these groups. When a creator considers crowdfunding, they should feel confident that they can reach as many interested backers around the world who would want to support them.

These are just two of the core challenges we've seen with crowdfunding, but we know there are more (e.g. difficulty in building a compelling campaign, and struggles with pledge management and fulfillment). While we continue to work on solving these challenges ourselves, we hope that engaging with our users and empowering an ecosystem to define, prioritize, and develop solutions to these core challenges will allow many more creative projects to come to life.
Call me cynical, but that last sentence seems to boil down to "We hope to set up a system so that others can solve the problems we can't." Tied into that is the feeling that Kickstarter will adopt MLM-style payouts given these statements below the question "How could a protocol help solve challenges with the crowdfunding model?"
Quote:
What if we designed the protocol so that some small percentage of Kickstarter's fees went to people who are helping to reduce risk through expert peer review? This could help backers see whether a project is making claims that can be trusted. How might that increase backer confidence and their likelihood to come back and support more creative work?

Or, in the case of the project distribution challenge, what if a small percentage of Kickstarter's fees went to project referrers or apps that helped campaigns find new backers?

For example: A newsletter or an app could be designed on the protocol to find animation fans in a specific country. When they help animation projects reach more backers, they get a percentage of Kickstarter's fees. Any time a project launches on the protocol it could be listed on multiple platforms (some specific to relevant niches), helping it reach more backers.
You do the work to bring more backers to Kickstarter projects, and you will be paid — the more you do, the more you earn! I'm extrapolating here, but it sounds like Kickstarter wants to embed the type of things that already take place into a more organized system that will somehow function automatically in a better way to be explained later. I mean, we already have plenty of peer review on projects in the form of people posting on social media that creator X didn't do Y on their previous project and creator Z has a habit of doing questionable things. We already have project referrers, including me, who trumpet KS projects because they sound interesting. (I'll note that I have not been paid by Kickstarter or any KS project creator for any project that I've covered. I have no idea whether BGG receives credit or payment when a reader clicks a link and backs a KS project.)

On February 18, 2022, The Beat published an interview with Kickstarter COO Sean Leow that does not clarify the situation. Here's a quote from Leow that builds on what I've quoted above from the FAQ:
Quote:
A protocol would allow us to standardize how people would contribute to Kickstarter, whether that's a third-party service that's helping you promote your project better, or somebody helping you manage your pledges. There'll be a clear and transparent way for people to know what the rules of the game are. Because it's not just controlled by Kickstarter. It's not just us making decisions about how part of our fee could go to one of these services that helps advance a project, but it's written into the rules of the protocol. Say if you help a project reach say 50 more backers in a certain locale, because you've built up a newsletter a community, you can feel confident that you will be rewarded. The rules are written into something that is not just controlled by Kickstarter, but it's controlled by everybody who participates in the system.
So you're outsourcing the advertising of KS campaigns to those who want to publicize them for a fee. Again, we have that now, don't we? You can hire a company to promote your KS campaign, and others often promote campaigns just because they want to.

Leow talks about potentially outsourcing the handling of funds ("There is definitely a world where, with a protocol, we aren’t processing the payments") and campaign data can be published through a blockchain so the creator can use it (but I would imagine this is possible now without a blockchain, yes?) and how Kickstarter hopes to win back project creators who have left due to Kickstarter's blockchain plans: "It's up to us to win back her trust and the trust of people that have left the platform and show them that we're going to continue to invest in our current platform as it is now, where there are lots of things that we need to fix. That is the majority of our effort at Kickstarter."

The main problem I hear from game publishers about Kickstarter is that the moderation tools do not work, which means that someone can back a project for $1, then post negative and unhelpful comments non-stop with no way for a publisher to eject that person. I've heard this comment from publishers for years.

From the way Leow talks — "I'll admit that I'm not the technical expert on this" — it doesn't sound like changes, whatever they might be, are coming to Kickstarter anytime soon. Here's another excerpt:
Quote:
THE BEAT: A big problem in the NFT space is the issue of reversibility. If there is a fraudulent transaction, because there's no central governance, because it's distributed system, there's no arbiter for you to complain to. No mechanism to reverse a charge.

If problems like this cannot be solved, and the advisory committee recommends you don't continue, would Kickstarter abandon blockchain? Or is the advisory committee more focused on how to use blockchain in the most efficient way, rather than if it should be adopted?

LEOW: Maybe somewhere in-between? The net benefit to our users and our mission needs to be clear, otherwise we would not adopt this. There's a long period of exploration that we need to get to before we can prove that out and feel confident.

And that's what the Advisory Council is for — to challenge and to say these are really serious issues that need to be solved. And we need to come up with the right answers for those. I don't think that we're expecting to have the advisory council vote one way or another, they're part of helping us solve the problems that we laid out in the FAQ. I don't know if reversibility was in there. But we have a long list of problems that we think are our risks and challenges with this approach. And it's on us to work through those in the coming months and years to feel like we're going to get to that net benefit for the system.
"Somewhere in-between?" Is that even possible? Again, I feel like I'm ten years old when I hear stuff like this because I'm not even sure what is being proposed — but I'm not sure those at Kickstarter understand either.
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Mon Feb 21, 2022 11:14 pm
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Thumbs for the Memories

W. Eric Martin
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I hope you'll indulge a somewhat selfish post as today I'm going to forgo my usual policy of not talking about myself to celebrate something that's taken more than a decade to achieve, something that I had not thought about until I happened to look at my profile in November 2021 and see that I was close to rolling over some digits.

Today I received my one millionth thumb on BoardGameGeek.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Amazingly, the thumb count of the entirety of BGG reached 100 million in October 2021 — with the current tally as I write this being 101,933,746 — which means that I have received close to 1% of all thumbs given.

As you might note, this is somewhat ironic given that my account shows only 10 thumbs given (and I think that count is too high given that only five are linked), but I prefer to tip GeekGold instead of giving thumbs. I'm not sure why, but I also neither thumb tweets nor like Facebook posts. I realize the purpose of such things is to demonstrate appreciation for what's been written or shown, but somehow I just can't bring myself to do it. I'd prefer to leave a comment instead, but often I don't do that either. I'm generally a reserved person and keep my thoughts to myself...unless I'm doing my job, in which case I'm playing the role of "W. Eric Martin" and then can share a bit of myself.

Along those lines, 2021 was not a great year for me — nor for millions of other people, of course — but one thing that I did find comfort in throughout the year was this job and my ability to think about games and write about games and even occasionally play games. I love being able to do what I do, and ideally through my work I can help you discover things that you want to do. My wife often comments that I never take time off or have a "real" vacation, but I find joy and satisfaction in my work, so in a way writing about games is as relaxing as any vacation might be. (Aldie, I might still take a vacation some day!)

I'm not good at taking on long-term projects and seeing them through — a lesson I've painfully learned and re-learned — but short-term projects suit me perfectly, and this total reflects 18+ years of posts, images, videos, and more on BGG. I'm grateful that you all can demonstrate appreciation more easily than I can, and I look forward to sharing game announcements, diaries, and news — not to mention my enthusiasm about and thoughts on games — for many more years to come.
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Tue Feb 1, 2022 6:07 pm
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