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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sometimes the Brain Box Rattles

Something has been on my mind for the last few days. Nothing major. Nothing urgent.

Just a definition of a simple word. One I've seen thrown around in politics, on Kickstarters and even other crowdfunding endeavors.

Transparency.

Does it mean what we think it means? Does it mean the same to you as it does to that Kickstarter creator? At what point does transparency become opaque?

Here ares some definitions of Transparency:

The first doesn't apply to much of what we come across in gaming, unless it's at the gaming table. The fourth doesn't really apply at all.

The second and third seem really important when trying to vet any project that is seeking crowdsourced funding.

How important is transparency to you and the crowdfunding you back?

6 comments:

  1. Thanks to Tom Ryan and Ken Whitman I now only deal with kickstarters that have been successful in atlest some type of business prior. Even if only another successful kickstarter. Risk vs reward has become to much.

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  2. As a backer I never feel I need that much so long as the project shows progress. For first time creators that I back I don't expect to get exactly what is promised anyway. I like transparency from larger creators though as it teaches me process I may not have known or warns me of things to avoid.

    As a creator I prefer overboard transparency and overlong updates (that are mostly unread). I don't share financial info about anything in updates but have given some to backers who inquired. What I would not share, unless project failure might result, is issues with vendors contributors as they cannot easily rebut what I say and there are two sides to most stories.

    I have been lucky overall though as both a backer and creator.

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  3. Transparency by definition would be to keep everything above board from concept to delivery of product. What it means in practice is to let a lawyer tell people absolutely nothing using a lot of words.

    (My attempt at a G.K. Chesterton-inspired answer.)

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  4. The fourth applies to gaming as well. But not to Kickstarters.

    It helps if we all agree about the rules of the game we are playing (the regulatory atmosphere), before we play.

    Actually it might apply to Kickstarters as well because the regulatory framework is not at all transparent. It is explicitly not an investment (the US regulations were only recently [a couple of years back] relaxed on this, and even then not to the degree to facilitate crowd-sourced funding). Kickstarter's copper plate disclaimer that "they are not responsible for the fulfillment of the project" was at odds with the legal standards for acting as an agent (which I suspect is actually why Kickstarter no longer uses Amazon Payments - in order to get the legal protection of the Credit Providers Act of 1974 to legally separate them from the projects they present). And the IRS decision that any payments from KS are a "gift" rather than an pre-order really obfuscates the regulatory framework and eliminates a lot of established legal precedent (and remedies). So yes, more transparency on the actual regulatory framework would be highly appreciated.

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  5. If I may risk the analogy, when it comes to gaming, choosing between transparency and opacity is a bit like choosing between naturism and a full burqa : pleasure obviously lies somewhere in between. I don't need see every roll the DM makes, but I want to be sure that his game is not just one big railroad.

    Regarding Kickstarters though, I want transparency all the way. Keep your trade secrets secret, and show me everything else.

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  6. I will admit not taking many risks with Kickstarters. For instance, I don't join KS's for boardgames because I don't know how the game will play.

    I backed a KS for Red Box Games. It was Tre Manor's first KS, and turned problematic for him because he got caught up in the excitement as much as the backers. He offered too much for too little money. Upon fulfillment, the model material wasn't the greatest (lots of bubbles, and not really good at capturing his sculpting details).

    He learned a lot, and shared as much with his backers. He was apologetic and humble, and despite the urge to place blame, he accepted his fair share. This was transparency during a difficult time, and therefore when he launched his next KS I did not hesitate to join.

    Reaper Miniatures posts a breakdown of the money spent from the KS project. While it is interesting, it means nothing if I didn't believe their accounting was correct. Of course, their founders are accountants, but that's besides the point. Would anyone believe Ken Whitman's breakdown of KS funds?

    Or when Frog Gog Games took on the Razor Coast project. There was a good amount of animosity due the original author's breakdown. But if you trusted Frog God Games, and if you trusted Lou Agresta, then trust overcame bad blood. All, including Nick Logue, were honest about the project and the issues surrounding it. Again, blame wasn't shifted off to someone else, it was accepted where appropriate.

    Transparency, especially around difficult issues, creates trust. I may not join a project that Red Box Games or Frog God do, but it's not because I don't believe they'll do it.

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