Kickstarter is one of several popular sites which allow people to support creators in getting their projects off the ground. These projects can be anything from books to games, movies to miniatures, and anything else in-between.
I don’t have an issue with services like Kickstarter. It is a great opportunity for creators to connect with their audience and to ensure their product gets off the ground. I’ve both assisted in a successful Kickstarter campaign and have acted as a backer for several as well. My problem is not with Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or IndieGoGo themselves. The problem I have is my relationship with them.
My problem is what I like to call Obsessive Kickstarter Disorder (OKD). While this disorder doesn’t manifest for every project I sponsor, it does create discord in my life when it does.
Symptoms of OKD
Symptoms of Obsessive Kickstarter Disorder include:
- Talking about a project to friends, co-workers, family, or anyone else who will listen.
- Doing the above almost every day or whenever there is an update to the project.
- Continually monitoring the project for even the tiniest change.
- Attempting to act as a subject matter expert in the comments on the project.
- Taking pride in one’s “achievement” when a project hits a new goal or succeeds.
- Allowing commenting, chatting, or “community” activity take the place of or distract from normal job or family obligations.
- Attempting to back too many projects or to back them at a level outside of one’s budget.
Perhaps it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. As I mentioned before, I do not suffer from OKD for every project, or at least not at the same level for all of them. I definitely suffered from OKD when assisting with The 13th Doll Kickstarter. Running a Kickstarter is a full time job in of itself. Kickstarters require checking stats, following up on social media leads, and trying to get the word out to anyone who will rebroadcast it. I literally had to take a 6 month break from all social media after assisting in that campaign.
However, I find that I fall into similar problem with Unstable Unicorns, a hugely successful Kickstarter-funded game. The concept of the card game itself, the art, and the creator are all amazing. I’m extremely excited that I will be getting this game, and getting it before it is available for retail purchase. It definitely was worth the money/support.
That being said, it was not worth the insane amount of emotional and time investment on my part. The 13th Doll was a project I was helping to RUN. Unstable Unicorns, while a powerhouse phenomena of Kickstarter awesome, is not. There was no good reason for me to check estimated projections for the project, but I did. I didn’t need to compulsively check the backer count and project total, but I did. I had no obligation to comment all the time and to talk to every person I know about the project, but I did.
Kickstarter is an incredible example of how creators/businesses can successfully connect with and listen to their audience. The most successful projects reach their heights because of the flow of ideas between backers and creators. In many ways, a successful project is the perfect example of customer engagement and product development. I feel good backing projects, not just because I will get a reward but, because it feels like I’ve taken part in the creative process.
The issue is not with Kickstarter but, with me buying into things too much in order to feel validated. Why do I need to feel validated by something I didn’t create? Do I need to feel like a recognized community member? Should I care so much about something that is basically a transactional experience?
I will continue to back and get excited about social funding projects. That being said, I think I am going to take the “back it and forget it” approach. If a project gets some add ons or a more attractive tier, I’ll update my pledge. Other than that, I need to step back and let nature/the internet take its course.