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Naked Truth

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Good morning everyone! Fresh off my root canal, which has me feeling slightly better than I was last weekend (my jaw is still quite sore, but I can eat again), I am back to our favorite topic: Kickstarter. While there are still quite a few drool-worthy projects out there that I would love to be backing, today I wanted to talk about a project I find to be less than desirable. Normally a prelude like that would lead me to tell all of you about how I don’t even think that such-and-such a project should be on Kickstarter; today I will take a slightly different tactic.

This project is, unfortunately, valid – I just think the world doesn’t need it.  

Everyone knows the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. To refresh those of you that haven’t heard it in a decade or two, Wikipedia says the following about it:

A vain Emperor who cares for nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.

It is in the spirit of that classic story that today I rail against a new project on Kickstarter: The Emperor’s New Clothes.

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This project, I believe, is meant to be a clever joke masquerading as a board game. For only $35 ($25 if you get one of the remaining early bird slots) you too can receive:

  • 4 Black Wooden Discs
  • 30 Blank Wooden Cubes
  • 1 Blank Wooden Pawn
  • Blank 1 4” Small Board
  • 24 Blank Cards
  • 4 Blank 6-Sided Dice
  • All in a Nice Blank Box

Quite the deal, eh? Before I get to the negative about this project, let me first try to accentuate the positive. Unlike the Death Star and X-Wing joke projects, which were impossible, this is actually a feasible project that will (presumably) be able to fulfill its obligations in the event that it successfully funds. It falls into the same vein as 99 Shades of Grey, a very successful project last year that was even a Staff pick at the time. If people want to throw away money on projects like this, that’s their business.

Me, I think this project is too clever by half. I think it might even outsmart itself. I’ve had the chance to chat with the creator, and a couple of the backers. The general sentiment of those conversations is that this is a fun lighthearted thing, good for pranking friends, (as evinced by some hilarious demo experiences). The moral of the classic fairy tale is almost exactly the opposite  to my way of reading though. The project’s pitch, video, and the words of it’s supporters are all putting potential backers in the role of the Emperor’s spineless flunkies. They are all asking you too ooh and ahh the fine artwork and interesting rules; much like the child-gadfly in the story (who also probably took himself way too seriously) I’m just not seeing it. The creator seems like a nice enough guy, with a real passion for board games and crowd funding, and I hope one day he launches a project worthy of his passion, but this isn’t it.

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

7 thoughts on “Naked Truth

  1. It’s funny, I was okay with the X-Wing and Death Star projects, because most people undoubtedly looked once, chuckled, and then never saw them again. This one, though, this one pisses me off. Oh, it’s all postmodern clever, but there’s a very real chance this could fund, and eventually people are going to have to face up to the fact that they paid real money for blank gaming materials. I suppose they deserve it, but it’s just a joke, not a project.

    • Lol. Are we diametrically opposed?

      This project will fund, and people will get boxes of blank material, as advertised. The question is will the only one who thinks it’s funny be the creator laughing all the way to the bank.

      It’s not for Kickstarter to judge if a project is worthwhile. Just if it’s valid. Worthwhile they leave to the rest of us.

      Me, I can’t believe you’re passing up such a deal!

  2. I enjoyed (and backed) 99 Shades of Grey. I actually find it clever in a way that this is not. Maybe I’m nitpicking here, but the idea of this project is that the players are the emperor; they don’t want to admit that the game is blank when they’re being told what’s in it. But that’s not what happening, there is no emperor in this case. It’s like a joke with no punchline.

    Ultimately though, I don’t think it’s a “problem” that it exists. I don’t think that people backing this is taking away money from worthy projects which otherwise would have been funded. It’s just a bunch of idiots wasting money.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve backed 202 projects on Kickstarter, many of them board games. My husband and I are fairly serious board game collectors and we play 2-3 times a week.
    I feel like Jonathan Liu and everyone associated with this project (Springboard? Game Salute?) are making fun of people just like me, people who are earnest about improving the hobby by supporting games early on, helping assume some of the risk of development and production. Sure, there’s an in crowd here who gets the joke — and I get the joke too — but I think it’s mean-spirited and funny. They are the pimply adolescent boys who have tripped someone in the hallway and then laugh at them, kicking their books away. They were jerks in middle school, and in my eyes, these people that I respected and liked are being jerks now. How disappointing!

    The joke really is going to be on the early backers, or those slowest to jump from the project. (Disclosure: my husband and I are each in for a dollar so we get updates and can comment). Kickstarter won’t let you cancel or reduce a pledge if doing so would “unfund” a project that’s met its funding goal. Since the project is funded at three times over its goal, that means that some of those backers are stuck… some of them are going to pay $40-75 for the joke. Hope it’s still funny on April 1st.

    • I think you’re a bit off on that. Given that it’s now got three times the funding goal, ANYONE can drop out of it. If you cancel your pledge, it’s still funded. If you’d backed at $20, and the current pledge level was $5010, then backing out would drop it below funding goal. That’s the only scenario in which that rule would apply.

    • I agree with you that projects like this could very well cause a backlash. Unless Kickstarter changes it’s policies though they are perfectly legitimate as far as the site is concerned.

      To me, a passionate creator pursuing their dream project and a project trying to use the entire process as a joke are mutually exclusive.

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