Today in “random things I ordered on Kickstarter”…
So there’s only one day left in order to back the awesome feminist AI anthology, Mother of Invention!
Mother of Invention will feature diverse, challenging stories about gender as it relates to the creation of artificial intelligence and robotics. This ambitious anthology from award-winning Australian publishing house Twelfth Planet Press will be edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael.
From Pygmalion and Galatea to Frankenstein, Ex Machina and Person of Interest, the fictional landscape so often frames cisgender men as the creators of artificial life, leading to the same kinds of stories being told over and over. We want to bring some genuine revolution to the way that artificial intelligence stories are told, and how they intersect with gender identity, parenthood, sexuality, war, and the future of our species. How can we interrogate the gendered assumptions around the making of robots compared with the making of babies? Can computers learn to speak in a code beyond the (gender) binary?
If necessity is the mother of invention, what exciting AI might come to exist in the hands of a more diverse range of innovators?
Sound amazing? Of course it does! And for a mere $10 (or less, in US dollars!), it can be yours.
Want more? Of course you do! Which is why for a measly $18 you can get Mothre of Invention and the award-winning Kaleidoscope and Defying Doomsday books as well. Seriously. $18 for three books worth of diverse speculative fiction; what more could you possible want? A cool bookmark? A mug? Some jam and tea?
Well, hah! Fooled you! You can get those, too!
So what are you waiting for? One more day, people. Do it!
I’ve backed a few videogame Kickstarters in my day. Well, four, in fact. Ironically, the one I thought had the least chance of going anywhere is steaming ahead with development.1
I’ve also played a few games that have been funded via Kickstarter, like The Banner Saga, Divinity: Original Sin, and Shadowrun Returns. Of those, Shadowrun started strong but ended in a bit of a letdown… until its Dragonfall expansion, when it suddenly got amazing (seriously, go play that; you don’t need to’ve played the okay-but-a-bit-lacklustre original campaign to do so, either). The Banner Saga overpromised and underdelivered–way, way, way underdelivered–and also needed like at least two more women on the writing staff to smack the other writers upside the head at a few points. And Divinity: Original Sin proved that, well. Nostalgia and money don’t actually always make a decent game.2
So… yeah. I don’t think crowdfunded games are going anywhere any time soon. Still, it’s a hell of a risky model for backers. Hence the linked list.
Think before you fund, and all that.
- And three I’ve lost contact with after I deleted my original Kickstarter account post-security breach. Durr, Alis. [↩]
- I still neither know nor really care what the plot in that game was supposed to be… something-something reincarnated lovers something-something Pandora’s Box dragon something? IDK. Like, don’t get me wrong; I did play it all to the end and there were some really good ideas there… and then there was Paper Scissors Rock. And also: buggy. So. Freakin’. Buggy, OMG. [↩]
An interesting take on the currently in-vogue “pre-funding”/Kickstarter/crowdsourcing model, specifically looking at video games, but applicable to a lot of different areas.
Specifically, UnSubject calls out the idea that backers taking on all risk of a project’s delivery while developers reap 100% of the rewards is kind of arse-backwards. Not even the most speculative of VC funding works this way (VCs get defined financial equity in the companies they back).
As I’ve said before, I’ve backed Kickstarter projects in the past and will do so again in the future. But the model can be… problematic. There’s no denying that.
You know Kickstarter isn’t just free money, right? Like, you are actually obligated to produce a product, and can get sued by backers if you don’t?
I mean, you do know that… right?
(This also reminds me that, when I deleted my old Kickstarter account after the security breach a little while back, I also probably lost access to all my backer rewards. I mean, it’s not that there were that many… but still. Oops.)
I guess if by “capitalism” he means “pitching a fit when his shitty business plans turn out to not be viable” then yeah. Yeah I guess he’s doing pretty well.
Filed under “the dangers of Kickstarter”.
A kickstarter for a cute little game intended to try and make programming accessible to kids. It draws inspiration from sources like Harry Potter, Pokèmon, and Final Fantasy Tactics to present code-flow in an intuitive and language-neutral way. For those of you who’ve never learnt to code (you lucky things), this is the hardest concept to pick up. Getting over this learning mountain in one language–any language, even an abstracted one like Codemancer‘s–will basically set you up to learn any other language out there. Syntax is easy. Concepts are hard. Which is the first reason I like this project.
The second? It has a strong focus on representation and diversity; no white-boy heroes chasing damsels here.
There’s fifteen days to go on the Kickstarter and, in my opinion, Codemancer is definitely worth any dollars you happen to have spare. (Or a signal-boost. Those help too!)
The comments on this one are also a decent read. Particularly Relevant To My Interests is:
My impression is that a lot of Kickstarters are intended to fund production, and possibly marketing, costs, but aren’t intended to generate a profit. If profit were built into the campaign goal, I think it would be another instance in which crowdfunding becomes really questionable–a problem not just for writers (who are stuck with a publisher that lacks the incentive that risk builds into the equation) but for backers, who are basically being overcharged.
Legally you are not pre-ordering anything on Kickstarter. Ever. It may not seem like a big distinction, but it’s hugely important.
Crowdfunding can be great, but there are a lot of, uh, shall we say… myths around what it is and what it isn’t. Pre-orders are one. The second I’ve seen is people comparing it to venture capital which, again, it really isn’t. Despite Silicon Valley mythology, VC isn’t charity or “free money”, and VC firms do expect some kind of return on their investments (generally in the form of corporate equity). Crowdfunding, particularly of the Kickstarter variety, is specifically not this… and Kickstarter can’t be used for business seed money for exactly this reason.
Like I said, I’ve donated to crowdfunded campaigns in the past, but I’ve always been pretty damn clear on what it was when I did it: a donation. Actually getting something for my money is a bonus extra. Always.