Today guest blogger Rusel DeMaria shares with us the value of gaming history, his thoughts on Kickstarter, and notes about his current project.
Why History? Why Kickstarter?
My name is Rusel DeMaria. I am an author, game designer, consultant and analyst. I am running a Kickstarter project to fund a 3rd edition of my book, “High Score: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games”.
For many younger game designers and developers, who likely grew up on games, the history of the industry is probably less important than the technological advances, the newest game engines, and the new opportunities that exist in the world of games. With social, mobile and casual games, this is a great time to be designing games. The barriers to entry have been lowered to the point that just about anyone with a modicum of skill, timing, originality and a bit of luck can hit the jackpot.
However, what makes games good, what makes companies succeed or fail, how do partnerships work, what games mean to us in our world today – all of these are, in part, the lessons of history. As a new designer seeking to get into the business, it’s not a prerequisite that you know game history. It’s just an added bonus that you know what has been done before, because every game designer you admire had something that inspired him or her. Sid Meier had Seven Cities of Gold. Will Wright had the Pinball Construction Set. What did you have? How did it shape your directions as a designer?
And even past the informative aspect of game history, it makes a great story. Writing High Score was a great adventure for me, and I heard the stories of dozens of the pioneers of the industry. I wrote the stories as best I could to bring you closer to the people and to their challenges and successes as they built their companies, made their games and explored the boundaries of game design, marketing, finances, technology and the many pitfalls of success and failure. It’s a good read, and you never know what you’ll take away from it.
At this time, Kickstarter is a new and potentially valuable source of funding for indie developers. Many small projects are getting the money to proceed and launch new titles with support from fans and people who want to see new games come out. I’m not talking only about Double Fine or InXile, which were hugely successful projects run by famous game designers, but about smaller games, like the D-Day Dice Board Game, which exceeded its initial goal by 1,321%! Or small projects with small budgets that have succeeded, like OutReach the Search for Mankind, School Daze and Spike: A Love Story Too.
Kickstarter is not for the faint of heart. It’s difficult. It requires hard work to set it up and to maintain it to success. Believe me, I made mistakes and had to learn on the job, so to speak. I worked my ass off getting the word out, refining my project and beating the bushes for support. I went way past my comfort zone. In the end, I was successful, but it wasn’t without its low points and times when I didn’t know if it would work. I have a ton of people to thank, without whom I could not have succeeded, and among them are the backers of my project who were extremely helpful. Some offered sound advice about what works and what doesn’t. Others even offered new incentives, such as a custom-made comic just for my project.
Not all Kickstarter projects will succeed, and there are any number of reasons why. So if you are interested in turning to Kickstarter, or any crowd sourcing method, do your homework. Look at the section on “Ending Soon” and you’ll see a bunch of projects with hours to go that won’t succeed. It’s a good idea to learn from those that fail as much as – or even more than – those that succeed.
In any case, if you want to make games, there’s lots of good information on this site. I would ditto a lot of it. Best of luck. I hope to see your games in the future, and maybe they’ll be in the 4th edition of High Score.
Rusel DeMaria began playing video games in 1967. Since then he has been a writer and editor, designer, consultant and analyst, founding editor and creative director of strategy guides for Prima Publishing and author of more than 60 books. He is currently running the High Score 3 Kickstarter project at http://ow.ly/1HTdLa.