When I got laid off at CCP, I was devastated. Not just because I was leaving a company I loved, and not only because I would no longer work with some of the most talented, creative people I’ve ever known. I knew that I would have to, for an indeterminate amount of time, have to leave the video game industry. I live in New York City, and surprisingly, the video game industry here is quite small. Many people scratch their heads about this, because everyone knows that big companies like Atari are headquartered in New York City. Those big companies don’t design games here; these are their corporate and marketing offices. They usually have studios in California, Austin, London, Seattle, etc. handling the creation of games. The companies that do make games are very small studios, and most of them are making casual or social games which don’t need a community development/management expert (I disagree with this, and I strongly believe social games desperately need Community, but that’s an argument for another day).

What I really want to talk about is: while I lament that right now I can’t work directly in video games, I can still be a part of the gaming industry indirectly. And that makes me a happy sword-wielding, arrow-in-the-knee guarding, gamer geek. I can help cool, independent developers develop awesome games that will push gaming into awesome directions with microdonations through Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a site that enables creative people to network and seek funding for whatever projects they are working on. A creative can allow for a variety of different tiers of support for their project, each with their own reward. Creatives can then send updates to their project’s supporters. It’s a very useful and efficient system, and some pretty awesome projects in a variety of different media and industries have been able to take off due to the generosity of microdonators.

If you’re a regular GamaSutra reader, you may have seen a few mentions here and there about Kickstarter and independent game development. They named one of the Game Changers of 2011 in a recent article. The overall feeling is that Kickstarter is a good thing™, and I don’t think many would dispute that. That is why I’m taking my meager free bucks and pledging support to some games I think are interesting. (But also because I’ll get a copies of awesome games!)

I learned about Metagame just as they reached their funded date, so couldn’t pledge my support through Kickstarter. That meant I kept an eye on the official Web site to see when the game would be sold to users.

Metagame: Videogame Edition

Metagame, developed by Local No. 12, is a card game for two or more players. The goal: arguing and debating with your fellow participant about culture. It’s that simple. There are currently two editions of the game: Videogame, and Culture.

What attracted me to the game was that it was ironic. I also have an interest in the design of non-video games. One of the designers is also Eric Zimmerman, who not only teaches game design at NYU Game Center, but co-authored the excellent Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals textbook.

Forge Quest
I have always loved old school-style games; they were the mainstay of my early teen years. I’m also a big fan of sandbox games. Forge Quest brings these two elements together.

Forge Quest: A Sandbox Action RPG

Forge Quest has met and exceeded its funding goals. Because it has raised over $10,000 USD, they will also create a Mac OS X version of the game.

What attracted me to the game was the opportunity for adventure. Of course, I can’t help but compare it to Minecraft, which I’ve played not to build things but to explore and find resources. You can learn more about Forge Quest by visiting their official site.

For the Win
I first learned about For the Win from an article Cory Doctorow wrote on boing boing.

For the Win!

For the Win is a tile-based game that gets its inspiration from Internet memes. Ninjas, zombies, pirates, monkeys, aliens… how can this game not be awesome!

As of this writing, For the Win is very close to meeting its fundraising goals. But you don’t have to wait for the game to be produced if you’re a backer; you can print out the tiles and rules and start playing right now.

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