Hey friends. Instead of visiting the sunbaked fields of Manchester this weekend, I am writing you a column, and I hope you are as pleased as I am with this prospect. After wracking my brain for something relevant, the obvious, like a snake, bit me square in the eye.
Anyone who knows me knows my love for the Fallout franchise, Interplay/Bethesda Softworks' post-apocalyptic RPG epics set in a radiation scorched America. As I've documented previously, the fandom for this series is far-reaching and often ambitious. People have built entirely functional suits of hydraulic-powered t-45 power armor and Pip-Boy 3000s, but a group of fans from Wayside Creations took their love for the series a step further when developing "Nuka-Break," a YouTube series based around the areas playable in Fallout: New Vegas complete with replica props from across the games' history and consultation from the games' creators.
Which brings me to the object of today's rant: Kickstarter. Is it a great idea or just a cheap means of using merchandising to perpetrate a Ponzi scheme. Like the Freemasons and the Church of Scientology, you pay your way up the pyramid for the next perk, unless you're that person with five grand to spare just collecting dust in a shotgun somewhere and can automatically get all of the things. In that case, you are an entitled hoser, part of the one percent,and we cannot be friends. But seriously,what are the wondrous incentives that encourage backers of these multifarious projects to throw their hard earned money at things that may not be produced?
In Kickstarter's defense, if a new project comes into fruition the backers are never billed, but there are already documented cases of shell projects used to take money from would-be supporters in a short con. Clever, amirite? But as far as the door prizes and sense of well-being that comes with putting your hard earned funds into something that resonates with you, it often would seem that the base result is simply a pat on the back and a hand in your pocket. Until now.
Going back to "Nuka-Break," which recently announced production of a second season, Fallout creator Tim Cain and producer/writer Chris Avellone have announced that should Wayside Creations double their original goal of $60,000 for season two and meet that goal, they would join Wayside's production team and help guide the series in a full-fledged canonical direction (no comment from Bethesda, but if Zenimax is involved there is a man somewhere in Maryland curling his fingers at the notion of profits to be gained from the work of others). This is perhaps the coolest perk I have ever heard of, and what's more, it doesn't involve a specific one-on-one donation echelon where those with better means get cooler stuff,but rather encourages people to give as much as they can so that everyone prospers. Go egalitarianism!
So Kickstarter isn't inherently evil, but why is it a site whose purpose is to help creative projects get on their feet attracts so little in the way of cool? Tim Cain also launched a test project for Wasteland 2, the official sequel to Cain's early text-based RPG to which Fallout has been called a spiritual successor. Beyond most people's expectations the Kickstarter generated over million dollars practically overnight, exceeding Cain's goal.
I guess that even though it completely negates my own opinion of how things work, Kickstarter is the embodiment of the age old maxim, "Throw enough money at the problem and it will fix itself." If I am to be wrong, so be it, but let's go whole hog.
I propose that since the economy is on the upswing and people obviously have money to throw at things again, we start a Kickstarter for the economy,and like a national tithe,everyone gives what they can (preferably Caesar's righteous tax) to fill the proverbial hat and get the country back on track. Hey, we may not have money as a sovereign state, but it's hiding out there somewhere. We just have to shake the giving tree a little bit harder, draw just a little milk out like Hugh Jackman in "The Fountain," and sock it all in to the National Kickstarter. Once our world deficit is defeated and President Ron Paul has dismantled the Fed, we'll use the National Kickstarter as an ultimate means of capitalist representational democracy. Don't want abortion? Don't pay for it. Want better infrastructure? Put your tax return into it. After all, corporations are people and if they can buy politicians, you should too.
— Jake Lane is a graduate in creative writing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.