Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to be head of games at Kickstarter.
As soon as I published my first game, The Burning Wheel, a bunch of smart, generous people jumped in and helped me learn how to talk about it, sell it and promote it. They also gave me a lot of fair critiques. It was an incredible experience. So right then and there I vowed to use what little knowledge I had to help folks make their own games on their own terms. 10 years later, I got supremely lucky getting hired at Kickstarter to do just that.
You have done several kickstarter campaigns yourself. Can you talk a bit about them?
I’ve run eight projects: Torchbearer, Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds, Burning Wheel Codex, Inheritance, Middarmark, Iron Empires: Void, Iron Empires: Faith Conquers and Sheva’s War reprints and a Burning Wheel t-shirt project. My advice: Always talk like a wizard while running your projects; games backers have an incredible sense of humor and love a good extended joke.
Is it normal that Kickstarter staff does campaigns while they work at KS?
The leadership here encourages everyone to run projects. Some of my coworkers have run projects for watches, t-shirts, chocolates, mini-comics, films, bacon dinners and zines.
How do you divide your time between video games vs tabletop and how is a typical day at Kickstarter?
Even though my background is in tabletop, I work with the whole category. I might be talking to CMON one minute and an indie video game creator the next. I also have a second-in-command, Anya Combs, whose background is more in indie video games. So she covers a lot of that world for me now.
We advise creators, curate the category, go out to events, and advise other teams at Kickstarter about what the Games category needs.
What is your comment to people that complain about big companies using Kickstarter for their games?
Kickstarter is a lovely open platform. Creators of all sizes can and should use the platform. I get to see some behind the scenes data and I can tell you that big projects do not eat all the pie. Big projects bring in more backers who go on to back projects from other creators. Smaller creators almost always benefit from this effect. For example, the category didn’t close up shop and go home after Exploding Kittens. Quite the opposite, it grew as a whole—even when you account for the numbers from Exploding Kittens itself.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The project image is key. If you’re going to commission one piece of art, make sure you can use it as your project image. And don’t clutter it with badges and labels. Let your gorgeous art speak for itself! After that, for tabletop games, it’s vital to have a clear demonstration video.
But most important is to have a good idea and express it in a strong, clear manner.
Do you have any examples of a good board game campaign?
Tabletop games have come so far since the early days. This project is the first attempt at funding a tabletop game on Kickstarter. But personally I think Dragoon and Beasts of Balance ran excellent campaigns.
What is the future plans for KS. Are we about to see some big changes to the site or only small changes.
We’re always working to improve the platform in ways big and small. Hopefully we’ll have some nice announcements later this year.
What is your favorite board game at the moment and why?
All time favorite is probably M44, but I also dearly love Command and Colors, especially Napoleonics. They’re brilliant distillations of very complex war games: fast, easy to understand yet full of deep tactics. BUT the best game in recent memory is Bouken’sDiet & Friends.
Would you like to go out for some sweets buffet? I thought you would.
Since you work at Kickstarter, I will of course have to ask you how you choose which projects that get the “project we love” stamp.
Where can people reach you?
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns!
Check out my interview with the creator of the Dragoon campaign.