It seems Kickstarter and its ilk are going to play a significant role in the future of our society. From entertainment to product innovation to urban development, people are finding monetary support for ideas that wouldn’t otherwise have seen the light of day. Take LowLine, for example. Dan Barasch and James Ramsey have a vision to turn an abandoned trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of Manhattan into the world’s first underground park. They’ve raised over $100,000 to build a full-scale installation as a proof-of-concept.
I grew up on point-and-click adventure games like Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and many, many more. I absolutely adore those games. I love the puzzles, the humor, and the artistry that made them classics. Unfortunately, that genre of game fell into disfavor. Publishers won’t fund them, and while a few indie developers have produced worthwhile efforts, they’ve been few and far between.
Enter Tim Schafer (Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango) and his San Francisco-based company, Double Fine Productions. He decided there might be enough fans of the genre to fund the development of a new game. He put together a plan and launched a Kickstarter project with a goal of $400,000. They met that goal in less than nine hours. At the time of this writing, with eight days to go, they have raised $2,398,607 from 69,333 backers! They’ve been able to expand their plans for the game and the documentary of its production.
With that kind of support possible, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing a lot of games, movies, books, albums, etc. funded this way. In fact, Yancey Strickler, one of Kickstarter’s three co-founders, was recently quoted by TPM as saying, “It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the NEA.” And one of the great things about it is that all it takes is for people to want it. There are no test screenings or focus groups. The only advertising necessary is getting the word out about the project, and that happens naturally through the social web. There’s no publisher or distributor to screw things up.
The printing press made it possible for ”anyone” to publish. Kickstarter has made it possible for anyone to get the necessary funding to make their dreams a reality. It’s like we’re living at the Big Rock Candy Mountain.