"Kickstarter Funded!" Now where does the money go?


Kickstarter has taken off in the last year, with the success of some big name projects. The crowd sourced funding model has allowed people with great ideas a chance to succseed even without the blessing of traditional big publishing venues. I've chipped in on a few projects myself, include the hyper successful Double Fine Adventure project which raised over 800% of its initial goal and was the second kick starter project to break a million dollars.

One of the reasons that the Double Fine project itself is exciting, is because part of their project goals is to make the entire development process transparent to the backers. Since they got their funding in March, their private backers forum has had 37 post; 11 major updates from artist, programers, and writers giving a surprisingly in depth work at their work process; and 5 videos posted from the behind the scenes documentary.

In the spirit of backer exclusivity, I don't want to reveal any of the information they have given on the development of the actual game. But there was one update shortly after their project funded, where they laid out just what happens to all that money the Kickstarter raised. This will give us an interesting look at what happens to Kickstarter projects after the countdown has reached zero, and the real work actually begins.


What problem is Gamification addressing?

Gamification is more then a high score

We've taken a brief look on what the word gamification means, which is to use design techniques usually associated with games and apply them to motivate and engage a specific audience. There was a blog not to recently however, that claimed that Gamification is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist; that we already have a universal point system, and it is called 'money'.

There are at least two problems with this. First off, money is not an effective point gauge system for measuring incentive or value. As a means of incentive it turns out that after a certain threshold (estimated at around $75,000 a year in the US), more money does not actually make you happier. There is even research which says that money incentives can have a negative impact on work output, specifically for any task that requires cognitive thinking or problem solving in a given time frame. And as a measurement of value, what is most often the case is that you do not make what you earn, you make what you can negotiate. There are plenty of low paying high impact jobs (ex. teaching, fire fighting, law enforcement) which stand converse to the high paying non-critical careers (ex. professional sports, theoretical finance, patent lawyers).

Secondly, there are a lot of problems in the world that could benefit from Gamification. Trying to simplify the process of Gamification as slapping a point system on everything, misses a lot of the design space and potential of applying it to real world situations. Part of the Gamification tool box includes being able to balance short term and long term goals, producing better feed back mechanics, creating socially collaborative and supportive structures, and creating unexpected rewards and challenges to keep people engaged.

There are many places in the world that could benefit from employing some of these measures. So in order to show that there is a place for gamification in our lives, I wanted to point out some of the specific examples in both education and business where there are problems that need to be solved.