As some of you may have seen, Rich Burlew’s Kickstarter for reprinting some of his Order Of The Stick books is just about to break 1.2 million dollars in its final hours, putting it in the top three earning Kickstarters of all time as of this date. He started out asking for $57,750 to do some reprints, and is now in a position where the postage alone to mail out the rewards will cost over two hundred thousand dollars.
Heck — just in the time it took me to write this blog post the OOTS Kickstarter accumulated over six thousand dollars in additional pledges. Phenomenal.
I think this is great. I’ve been a fan of OOTS since its earliest days. I own every one of the books of collected strips, and I became a backer of the OOTS Kickstarter the minute I heard about it. Mister Burlew (whom I unfortunately have never had the chance to meet personally, outside of buying a book from him one GenCon) is a highly talented storyteller. He deserves every single, solitary iota of success he’s had with his Kickstarter and his other endeavors. Everyone who’s backed his project should be proud to be involved. I hope this success ensures the future of OOTS for a long time to come and that Mister Burlew gets to publish new OOTS books even sooner than he otherwise would. I want to know what happens next! ;)
(Yes, I’m aware I could read the strips one at a time online. That’s not nearly as much fun, though, and it’s a distraction from work. I wait for the collections.)
Let me repeat, the success of the OOTS Kickstarter is awesome. Congratulations to Rich Burlew; he deserves it, and more.
That being said... I think it’s also kind of a shame.
It saddens me a little that the most successful RPG-related Kickstarter of all time (by many, many orders of magnitude) isn’t actually an RPG — it’s a comic strip about an RPG. Sure it’s an incredibly funny and clever comic strip (see all those “he deserves this awesome success” statements above :) ). But wouldn’t it be nice if gamers were just as enthusiastic about backing actual roleplaying game projects on Kickstarter as they are about backing an RPG-related comic?
I haven’t counted, but I’d imagine there are at least a dozen or two RPGs, RPG supplements, and RPG-related Kickstarters currently running. (Full disclosure time: one of them, Mythic Hero, is mine. ;) ) The OOTS Kickstarter drive has over fourteen thousand backers. If each of them pledged the same amount he pledged for OOTS to an actual RPG project, I bet every single one of those projects would succeed. Heck, if even half of them pledged half of what they pledged to OOTS, you’d probably see all of them succeed, and I suspect most by a wide margin. Heck #2, we don’t even have to go that far most likely — if each of them pledged $1, $5, or $10 that’d probably see most (if not all) of those RPG Kickstarters over the finish line.
Undoubtedly the people who’ve backed the OOTS reprint project are now aware of just how amazing Kickstarter can be (if they weren’t already). I hope at least a few of them will take the opportunity to look around the KS website for some RPG books and products being Kickstarted and support them as generously and enthusiastically as they’ve supported OOTS. For the most part RPGs are a little niche industry, and if that industry’s going to survive at some tolerable level for those of us who work in it, I think the direct support of the fans through amazing new tools like Kickstarter is vital.