Next Saturday my gorgeous Violet, our baby girl, will turn 6. I won’t be there to see how early she jumps out of bed, or whether she loves the robot unicorn I picked out for her (spoiler alert – she’s going to love it, it’s a robot unicorn!). Her big sister is full of plans to make her birthday cake. My kids spend months selecting a birthday cake. I’ve made about fifty of them, I think. Some have turned out better than others (pirate ships are really hard), but all have become a story, part of our family lore. Violet always wants a turtle cake I’m good at making turtle cakes.
But I will be half a world away talking to hundreds of people about creating empathy with game narrative. It’s a great honour, and it never ceases to amaze me that people care what I think about this stuff. After the panel I’ll rush back to my booth, part of the Indie Megabooth, no less, and I’ll spend the rest of the day telling punters and journalists about Ninja Pizza Girl, and how I’m making it with my wonderful family. People will tell me about their experiences with bullying, about their wonderful daughters, sisters, cousins. They’ll laugh with delight as they play my game. My game! My heart will happy and full and my head will be spinning. I will lose my voice many times.
I know many parents miss their kids birthdays, for all sorts of good reasons. I know I have an excellent reason for missing Violet’s. My girls are already planning the business trips they’ll take when they’re grown ups. The life they envisage for themselves has no limits. The first time I went to a convention without Jason everyone I met was shocked. No one was mean about it, they were just … really surprised. But here’s the thing – Jason hates to travel alone, whereas I kinda like it. We both feel that it’s really important right now for there to be visible female game developers, so it makes sense for me to represent us, right? Also Jason did a lot of trips to the States when the girls were babies, and I swear to God every time he went they all got gastro and I spent the week cleaning up vomit so he totally owes me
Violet doesn’t even care that I’m missing her birthday, she just thinks it’s cool that she gets a second one when I get back
But if you see me at PAX East, and I’m a little bit weepy, don’t worry. I’m stoked to be there. I’m having a wonderful time and I’m honoured and so happy that my little game is making people feel things. It’s just that there’s a turtle cake on the other side of the world that I didn’t get to make.
We’re just about to put down our polishing cloth and head to Melbourne, for GCAP and PAXAus 2014. If you’re there, please come visit us! We’ve got a giant poster full of pixels, cool stickers, badges, and some nifty cards And don’t forget to check out Nicole’s panels. She’s organised her very own panel, Political Proactivism for Geeks featuring Melbourne’s very own Member of Parliament, the CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association, the organiser of Govhack Melbourne, and couple of Aussie game developers who have actually made games with a political message.
Nicole’s also taking part in Grow Up and Take Responsibility, which is at the same time as the Good Game panel, so there should be lots of seats and she’s super proud to be part of Women in video games, Improving things for everyone.
We’re hoping to have time this year for a wander around and maybe a board game or two. And of course we’re really looking forward to showing off Ninja Pizza Girl and meeting lots of really cool and interesting people! Kickstarter backers get free hugs, or if you’re not into that touchy feely stuff, friendly salutes.
Oh, and press people, we’re always up for a bit of collusion and corruption!
We did it!
We reached our goal with 38 hours to go, which sounds like a comfortable margin, but it felt right down to the wire!
Kickstarter has been a hell of a ride. I feel incredibly lucky. I thought we were prepared, going in, but with the benefit of retrospect we really weren’t and without the support of our friends, family, our backers, and some wonderful members of the games industry and games press who connected with our story and our message we would never have made it.
Our backers supported us in amazing ways, from carrying our stuff to tweeting about the game, to doing lets plays and posting links on their favourite forums. Travelling around the world and hugging each and every one of them probably isn’t practical, so we figure the best way we can thank all 1404 of them is to get to work and make Ninja Pizza Girl the best we possibly can.
The kickstarter predictors only reached a consensus about 20 hours before our campaign finished. By that time even I was fairly confident we were going to make it! Future kickstarters, you really should avoid them all together, but you probably won’t so you should know that Kickspy was by far the most accurate, and seems to account for the U shaped curve of bipolarization the best.
Oh, and one more thing I wish I’d known going in, only 16 percent of our backers found us on Kickstarter. We tried to err on the side of not being spammy, but you really do have to work hard and get your message out there and keep it circulating all month, it’s the only way people are going to find you.
That’s right, we’ve been Greenlit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (You can’t see me now but I’m doing my “We’ve been Greenlit” dance)
So that’s awesome Now we just have to get to our Kickstarter goal! Its three weeks in and we’re two thirds funded. U shaped curve be damned, I’m getting a little nervous!
The campaign has 8 days left and we’ve got a little over $10000 to raise. There’s a lot of work to be done, we’re posting and tweeting and emailing and generally spreading the word across the internet like tomato sauce across a thin-crust pizza base. Wish us luck!
Oh, and this week Sidekick is giving us a 95% chance of success, but Kicktraq is convinced we’ll fall just short of our goal o.O Remember, future kickstarters, Kickstarter Predictors are confusing, capricious, and generally NOT YOUR FRIEND!
… there is also love in the world. (Stephen Donaldson)
Well, we’ve been up on Kickstarter and Greenlight for two weeks now. Halfway there for Kickstarter anyway. We’re just a smidgen over 60 percent funded and just about 50 percent of the way to the top hundred on Greenlight!
We’re one hundred percent of the way to building a community. Which, whatever happens, is a wonderful and unexpected bonus to this crazy ride. I was overwhelmed by the love from our friends, family and the local games industry last week, but this week I’m blown away by the awesome folk from all over the world who’re supporting us and spreading the word!
Considering all the love and support that’s been flowing in, I’m kind of embarrassed about how nervous I was about putting Ninja Pizza Girl up on Greenlight. There was an article on Polygon this week about the harassment of women in the games industry. I love Polygon, and I love that they’re willing to talk about this stuff, because it happens and it shouldn’t. But it worries me. I’m scared that girls will read it and be scared away from the industry. I know this happens, because I was really nervous about putting the game on steam as a direct result of reading so many negative articles about women putting games on steam and being harassed. Instead I’ve found the Steam Community to be welcoming and friendly Particularly other indies, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive. (By the way, I wholeheartedly recommend #indiedevhour to other indies. Its at 4 on Thursday mornings in Australia, which is a bit unfortunate, but well worth the lost sleep.)
I’m sure a lot of female developers have a positive experience with Greenlight, but we’re not hearing their stories. It can’t be right to focus solely on the negatives, can it? I’ve worked in the games industry for a long time now. I’ve got my fair share of horror stories, and I’m guilty as anyone of sharing them for shock value, or just because they make amusing anecdotes. (Did I tell you about the porn drive at my old workplace?) But they account for maybe 3 percent of my total experience in the games industry. Mostly it’s been about making games well, hanging out with people I really like and being able to wear comfortable shoes to work.
I’m often asked how I feel about our daughters potentially working in the games industry. Am I scared for them? Would I prefer they choose an easier life?
Let me tell you about Violet, our youngest. Violet never walks on footpaths. If there is a nice wide smooth path from A to B, surrounded by rocks and mud, or urban obstacles, Violet will be scrambling over the rocks, or leaping from ledge to ledge beside it. She’s not a gifted parkour-er either, she falls hard and often. She’s broken her arm twice already, once from tripping over an obstacle that was only 10 cm high.
When I first held my firstborn in my arms, I hoped with all my being that I could protect her from the all life’s hurts. I was crushed the first time she got sick, the first time she got a fright, the first time a playmate was mean to her. But my girls are strong willed, independent and ambitious young women. The easy paths don’t interest them. It’s not my job to chase them away from the rocks that make their hearts sing, to herd them into the well-trodden middle way. It’s my job to pick them up when they go splat, to be ready with Band-Aids and ice cream when things go wrong. And yes, to rush them to the hospital when bones break.
My eldest daughter works as a counsellor for a charity that helps people who have been sexually abused as children. Sometimes the job is too much for her, and she needs to take some time out, have a nice cup of tea and recover her strength. But she keeps on, just like she did when she was little, and had been sick, or scared, or sad.
Perhaps it would help the games industry move forward if we didn’t dwell on all the rocks in the way, but instead celebrated the strong, talented, tenacious people who are clambering over them.
But to get back to the Kickstarter, Sidekick now gives us a thumbs up, but Kicktraq is predicting that we won’t even hit $30 000 Y_Y
All going well, we’ll have some big announcements next week! Until then! xx Nicole
Its just closing in on one week since we launched Ninja Pizza Girl on Kickstarter and Greenlight. We’re just over 50 percent funded and closing in on 40 percent of the way to the top hundred on Greenlight.
It’s been a crazy week. It started with Ben Kuchera very kindly arranging for Jason to write a guest article on Polygon, to coincide with the launch. Apparently it was the most read article on the site that day! Thanks to the early press, we got most of our backers on the first three days. We were at 40 percent halfway through the third day, and have crawled the remaining ten ever so slowly since. Feminist/Geekery said that we were “the closest thing to a sure bet you can hope for on Kickstarter”. I wish I was as certain! Sidetrack still gives us a thumbsdown, and only a 37 percent chance of success. I genuinely wish I’d never found any kickstarter success predictors. My number one tip for future crowdfunders – back away from the refresh button!
I’ve heard that Steam can be nasty, but I’m not seeing it. We did see a small influx of no votes and negative comments after the game was included in a list of greenlight games with female protagonists. (How sad is that, honestly…) but overall the reception has been great and everyone has been very civil.
The big question is where to from here? We’ve had a lot of great press, a lot of love and support from local developers (the Aussie indie community is THE BEST). The Producer of Dragon-Age said nice things about NPG on twitter (squee!!!!) But we’ve still got a long way to go.