Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.
In the old days, large companies were the only ones who could afford to publish games. We've discussed Kickstarter and other crowdfunding, and Patreon and other ways to support individual artists to release the flow of content to the masses. That's, however, a small part of the overall industry, and there are horror stories of different crowdfunding projects that have gone awry. How can we best continue this trend in removing gatekeepers while protecting the consumer from those who would prey on them and by these bad experiences, start to reverse this trend?
I remember my first Kickstarter. It was Greg Stolze for a new idea that he had called Reign. Greg Stolze was not unknown in the industry, and Arc Dream, though still small, had published a few items and had made a name for itself with some Delta Green content. But this was a way to directly fund a project that would not otherwise have been made, with a new system that would go on to power Godlike, Wild Talents, and several more unique products in the industry. Back then, I had no real rhyme or reason why I backed anything, and with a notable few exceptions (Far West), when I look at the projects on my spreadsheet, they are all fulfilled. There was even one that had problems- and they gave me my entire pledge back.
As time went on, and more money began to flow through the platform, it began to change. More people were concerned with the products and the bottom line than the idea- creators and backers included. That idea of removing the gatekeepers became less and less the idea. I know that I look to projects with a more critical eye- and this is from someone that's engaged because I like seeing people's dreams come to life, and hope to one day run my own project and have it greeted with a similar enthusiasm.
I've always wanted to be a writer- and Kickstarter was the manner by which I found my pseudonym on a couple of publications. With the traditional way that things were done, I don't think that would have happened. But the concerns about the platforms and the projects are really important. If we apply a more critical eye to the projects that are being funded, then we just move the gatekeepers to another location. However, there have to be certain safeguards in place- I just can't figure out what they'd look like in the end.
@Nathan V I agree that there would need to be some kind of gatekeeping, but probably not the old school kind that's controlled by the publishers.
For instance, KS could do a better job of monitoring the project owners. Even if they don't actually enforce their policy of 'deliver or refund', barring repeat KS abusers (Whitman) early would help. In principle there is a 'no new project until your last one is done', but that one is ignored enough it might as well not be there. Though in fairness, most of the people I see doing this actually are good at delivery, so I can see why it's ignored.
@Keith Davies - that rule is interpreted wrong in many cases. I can't even find the rule now, but it was something like "You can't start another project until the first is fulfilled." Not the exact verbiage, but that points to the source of confusion- it was a one time prohibition, i.e. First time creators can't start another project until that first one is fulfilled.
I do agree that they could do a better job of monitoring the project owners- I think it would be perceived less as gate keeping if the criteria were laid out clearly, and the appeal process was transparent.
I used to back almost everything I heard of, but lately I've become extremely picky. Not because I fear they might not deliver; I'm aware I'm taking on part of that risk when I'm backing something, but because I've got way too much stuff already.
I don't mind the risk, though I'd like to know if someone has a history of failed projects. I'd love to give first-timers the benefit of the doubt, though.
In the actual old days lots of people published games. The early RPG writers were part of a culture with lots of history of amateur publishing. Individual zines, and group APA zines. Lee Gold's Alarums and Excursions went all over the world. To me the blog advice about minimum publishing standards is puzzling and almost gate keeping. Don't ever publish unless you are a professional. The hobby would never have gotten started if those had been the entry requirements.
I've never actually backed anything thru kickstarter or used it to publish anything. It always looked to me like an unnecessary middleman, and I always found myself cringing when reading kickstarters when it came to how they used tier investment strategies and stretch goals... disasters waiting to happen and in some cases looking like pyramid schemes.
Considering how close Chaosium came to going extinct because of kickstarters I would think long and hard and have rock solid contracts on printing and other costs before ever using one to publish.
@Stephen Gunnell is right about the old school/second wave folks, we started in our zines and APAs and threw caution to the wind in order to get ideas out before they were super polished and in many ways it made things happen rather than fight with gate keepers.
If not for the semi-pros and amateurs there would be no gaming, no gaming market or support to keep the companies alive. No publisher can produce enough content for their own game alone to fit the desire of the players and GMs out there.