Kickstarter creators boycott platform over blockchain despite ‘green’ approach

If there's one thing Kickstarter's tabletop gamers hate more than having their lucrative yearly event postponed, it's blockchain.

Indie tabletop game makers are ditching Kickstarter altogether after the crowdfunding platform seemed to prioritize plans to adopt blockchain over its annual event celebrating creators.

Kickstarter announced in December it would create a new company to develop a decentralized crowdfunding protocol intended for use across the web.

According to a blog post, Kickstarter’s new underbelly is to be powered by Andreessen Horowitz-funded Celo, a blockchain network that claims to be carbon negative (mostly via carbon offset project Wren).

Indeed, with Ethereum powered by Proof-of-Work for the foreseeable future, combined with the popularity of NFTs on the network, many have come to associate anything “blockchain” with electricity consumption.

But despite Brooklyn-based Kickstarter’s efforts to utilize a blockchain network that consumes less energy (which comes with its own set of tradeoffs), a squad of tabletop roleplaying game creators native to the platform just aren’t having it.

“A lot of us in the tabletop role-playing game community are very much against it, for a lot of reasons,” said TTRPG creator Charles Ferguson-Avery (via Polygon).

“As somebody who’s played around with it a little bit, it is wildly inefficient. It uses way more energy than is useful.”

Tabletop creators say Kickstarter rug-pulled their event

For the uninitiated, TTRPGs — also known as a pen-and-paper RPGs — are collaborative storytelling games. Players react to situations dictated by the rules, often working together to overcome obstacles.

The most well-known TTRPG is Dungeons and Dragons, created independently in 1974 but acquired by toy conglomerate Hasbro in 1999.

Since 2009, Kickstarter has helped to raise over $6 billion for 200,000 projects, ranging from fan-favorite television shows, gadgets, and swathes of indie video games.

And for the past three years, Kickstarter’s ZineQuest has helped indie TTRPGs get projects off the ground.

Across a two-week period, game makers are encouraged to create tabletop games in the A5 ‘zine’ format, showcase them, and ultimately raise funds to produce them at scale.

More than 800 projects have reportedly found success at the event since 2019. But earlier this month, Kickstarter announced this year’s much anticipated gathering was postponed until August.

A squad of 100 tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) creators are hosting an event called Zine Month to replace Kickstarter’s ZineQuest.

It just so happens they really hate blockchain, too, so the event’s postponement was in some ways the final straw.

“If ZiMo succeeds, we’ve proven that we’re capable of more independence,” one Zine Month organizer wrote on Twitter.

Read more: [Play-to-earn gamers form ‘subDAOs’ to maximize crypto profits]

Zine Month’s organizers say they hope to phase out their use of Kickstarter entirely by next year, a decision further hastened by blockchain adoption. 

“For it to, all of a sudden, switch a month before it was about to happen, for a lot of us it feels like a rug pull,” Ferguson-Avery told Polygon.

“A lot of us […] don’t have the money to have the rug pulled out and get back up easily,” he said.

So, throughout February, designers may submit their game concepts to be showcased on Zine Month’s website in the hopes of finding funding.

Kickstarter thinks blockchain can really help

While organizers hope to become completely independent of Kickstarter, participating in Zine Month does not require designers to boycott the platform entirely.

But Kickstarter no doubt hopes the creators it has supported over the past 13 years trust its blockchain implementation will really help connect creators with capital.

Kickstarter says end users won’t notice the platform’s switch to blockchain-powered infrastructure.

“Since everyone is invited to help contribute to the protocol and participate in the ecosystem, a wider array of good ideas will surface about how to transform crowdfunding for the better.”

“As a result, more creative projects will ultimately find the tools and resources they need,” wrote the company in December, our emphasis.

In any case, the concerns of Kickstarter’s blockchain dissidents echo a string of other communities who’ve protested their favored companies’ move towards blockchain, including Ubisoft and Square Enix.

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