Hubris and Hyperbole


This post is pretty much the greatest post you are going to read today. I wanted to start out humble, but I simply cannot contain how awesome it is that I will be using whole words and phrases in orders and ways you probably have never seen before, I…

I can’t do this. I can’t keep up that level of egotism for long. Not because I’m incapable of it, or I don’t enjoy it or anything but because if I keep it up, I might get stuck that way. It’s like what your mother always told you about your face sticking that way if kept it up too long. Really, what I want to talk about today is a trend I’m seeing on Kickstarter more and more, and why you shouldn’t do it.

Show don’t tell is one of those archetypal rules in writing. Don’t tell me that the house is creepy, show (describe) the house to give the impression of creepy. It is far more authentic and effective, and advice given by… everyone, really. So why are so many people bucking the trend, and taking a walk on the wild side? I understand that to stand out on Kickstarter, you have to toot your own horn to some extent, but some people are getting carried away.

Yesterday, a new board game was posted, their brief description was “A Board Game combined with a Collectible Card Game as never done before, we bring an epic game of…” they went on further in their description to add plenty of details, though the only one that has never been done before is the legally questionable ability to use Magic the Gathering cards in liu of the deck the game that it comes with. Is this the most effective way to make me back your project? Shouldn’t you leave it to your backers to say things like “OMG this game is so good I can’t believe no one has ever thought of doing [random mechanic] before!”

Another board game to launch this weekend said of itself, “You will find a sense of satisfaction when you play [name of game], and you will want to play it again and again. … If you lose a treasure to an opponent, you will find yourself trying desperately to get it back. If you succeed and play the treasure as your own, it will be the talk of the game. When the game is done, you will sit with your friends and family, and everyone will want to share their experience of the game.” Again – this seems like putting several carts in front of the horse here. As a frequent and experienced board game player, I have rarely felt the need to “share (my) experience of the game” with everyone in most cases.

Both of the above quoted games have raised a great deal of money to date, and will in all likelihood succeed in spite of their awkward phrasing and over-promised mechanics (a 16 player expansion to a world conquest board game, really? How long do you imagine each round will take?) I think that a better pitch could help these, and many other projects out though. After all, in the increasingly crowded field of crowd funding, one needs every edge if they hope to succeed.

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

14 thoughts on “Hubris and Hyperbole

  1. Words of epic importance and clauses that have never been seen before. Embark, brave reader, into a daring series of sentences so amazing and so miraculous that your eyes shall be blinded by the sheer sight of their glory.

    Watch as a masterful author summons words from the depths of English language oblivion that rarely go witnessed by unpretentious minds, or creates them out of thinnest air.

    You never will have expected anything like this to ever have existed or even be possible save for God’s own mouth to whisper it gently into the hard realms of truth and actuality.

    You will tweet bits and pieces of this immaculate tome without realizing the utter necessitude of context, leaving friends and family utterly confused about why the imagery impregnates you with ambrosial delight until you let them borrow it on a rainy Sunday and they finish reading it that very same Sunday not out of boredom but out of unadulterated addiction!

    Buy now?

  2. Why thank you!

    More seriously, I do agree with you. I really hate an overuse of marketing buzz words and phrases. Things like epic, dynamic, and brand new all ring hollow when I am making an investment decision.

    Even if Kickstarter keeps moving more and more toward being an early preorder system, time and time again I think it will be proven to still be a matter of investment rather than of early purchase.

    As such, I want just the facts.

      • Not without proof. There should be a minimum cap. Like a million views/page hits/whatever. Except everyone knows a million isn’t cool anymore.

        So what is cool?

      • Correction. They shouldn’t call themselves viral before they actually go viral; they should not be able to predict that they will go viral.

  3. On the flip side, I found a Kickstarter project awhile back in which these 2 guys sat there talking about their game without a shred of enthusiasm – not a hint of preparation or forethought for either their game or the making of the video.

    It was so boring and their concept so pedestrian, that I almost wished they’d just throw in a word like “dynamic” or say it had “never been done before” or that their idea could have been at least marginally noteworthy, despite their combined lack of exuberance, so that I could at least pretend that it could have been worth my time to watch their Kickstarter video.

    • This is more of a critique on their dull content, than their dull presentation, though isn’t it? I mean dull content simply shouldn’t be advertised, regardless, of how they advertise it.

      • Well, yes, but they acted like they were saying something worthy of giving them money for, it just wasn’t. Sorry if my comment didn’t more closely align with your post as you were hoping for, David.

      • Not at all. I welcome opinions of all stripes, and thought yours was a fine point. I wasn’t disagreeing with you so much as attempting to clarify.

  4. I definitely agree with you, David. I do get excited about my own game at times, but when I get a project on Kickstarter, I will be trying very hard not to say dumb things about the game. Most of the time when I see someone use words like “revolutionary” and “unique” I have to shake my head.

    The concept could be really cool, but that doesn’t mean it’s never been done before, and often times as they are describing it, the project sounds just like others I’ve heard of. And if it’s a case of poor presentation, and the project really is a hot new idea, they still should watch how they are presenting themselves and try to not say things that are obvious red flags for many people. They certainly shouldn’t – as you pointed out – tell us potential consumers how we are going to, or should feel after playing their game. That’s just another sign of naivete.

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