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Friday, April 25, 2014

Spaceteam Game Developer Asks Fans for a Salary

Posted by Angela Webber on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM

SPACETEAM: A perfect excuse to yell at your friends
  • SPACETEAM: A perfect excuse to yell at your friends
In the game Spaceteam, you and your friends play the crew of a starship, frantically yelling commands at one another while your interface (inside your smartphone) falls apart from the pressures of space. Commands can be the sort of nonsense you might hear on the deck of a ship in Star Trek: "Take Evasive Maneuvers," or "set Geiger Powerlantern to 4," or they can be nonsense like "Refrigerate Leftovers" or "Baste Energy Whittler."

It's a perfect game, and my favorite cooperative party game for smartphones and tablets. Oh, it's the only game I've ever played that fits that description? Shut up.

Spaceteam has been out for a while, but now its developer is trying a new way to fund his ventures in indie game development: a Kickstarter campaign. Ok, that's not new. At all. But what Henry Smith is doing with his Kickstarter is a little different—instead of planning out a specific game and asking the internet to fund it, he's just asking his fans to fund his salary for a year, promising he will work on game ideas that aren't finished yet—and when those games are finished, he will release them for free. Backers will get insider access to a forum, where they can watch Smith build the games he wants to build over the next year.

The "Spaceteam Admiral's Club" project has raised over $34,000 of it's $80,000(CAD) goal with just under a week remaining, which is a promising, though not guaranteed, trend toward success. If it does succeed, this seems like an interesting and transparent model for game design to follow. Overall, the shift from using Kickstarter to fund specific games to Smith's specific model is not a huge one, but it follows the trend of making the creator-sponsor or creator-patron relationship more transparent. The directly-asking-for-a-salary model has been growing in popularity among webcomic artists: Local cartoonist Erika Moen uses Patreon to fund her Oh Joy, Sex Toy comic, and Seattle's Penny Arcade recently enabled "Club PA" to exchange insider access for a sponsorship. All of these sponsorship models, whether they be weekly, monthly, or annual, do require a fan base to start with, and they all raise the issue of a balance between accountability and creative independence. But if the goal is to have fans directly in touch with people making the things they like, the Spaceteam project seems like a step in the right direction.

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