Why Kickstarter?


A few days ago, we launched our Kickstarter campaign for TsunamiCon 2015, and it’s starting off rather nicely.  We have a long way to go if we’re going to fund this convention, and this is in many ways the most critical stage of our planning process.  So it kind of threw me yesterday when one of our backers mentioned that there were a lot of local gamers last year who felt that Kickstarter was an inappropriate venue for funding a gaming convention.  I’d like to take a moment to address that idea.

Why Kickstarter?  The first thing you need to understand is that I’ve been thinking about running a convention for years.  What started as a small group of like-minded gamers with our Prismatic Tsunami forums (now lost to antiquity and Russian spambots) has slowly blossomed into a global community tied together through our podcasting network, our periodicals, and our enthusiasm for gaming.  About a year after we launched the Metagamers Anonymous podcast, we decided to start hosting local GameDay events in our home city of Wichita, and we started building connections with the local gamer population.  TsunamiCon was a no-brainer.

But the truth is, conventions are extraordinarily expensive to run, and none of us are independently wealthy.  We really wanted to put together something special for our community – something big enough to incite even some of our fanbase from across the nation to make the trip to Wichita to game with us – but we had no startup capital.  That was when I started looking at Kickstarter, and I quickly found that several new conventions had popped us across the Midwest by virtue of successful crowdfunding campaigns.

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it started as a way to permit creative projects – like games, books, electronic innovations, and clever inventions of all sorts – to reach out to potential customers and secure a means to fund their efforts.  Without a middleman.  As a musician, I loved the idea of being able to pre-sell an album I hadn’t yet recorded so that I could at least afford to make my art into something tangible that I could share, without having to secure a record contract and lose most of my money to the corporation behind it.  More importantly, as any musician who has ever perused a record contract can tell you, you instantly end up signing over much of your creative control to the investors.

Which is exactly what we didn’t want to do with TsunamiCon.

Using Kickstarter to fund an event is a perfect fit.  It allows us to pre-sell tickets and use the money for funding, rather than having to come up with thousands of dollars on our own.  It gives us a powerful medium for connecting with fans and giving them the opportunity to really show their support.  We use the reward system to provide access to convention swag (again, collecting the funds to actually have the swag made!) and VIP opportunities at the con, as well as provide accessibility to would-be vendors and advertisers.  And better yet, the Kickstarter website provides us with tools that help us reach a broader audience, unbound by our social media connections.  Anyone looking for a gaming convention or even just browsing the website (which, believe it or not, a lot of people do) can find us and immediately elect to get involved, and there’s even a social connection between account holders who choose to follow each other’s activities that immediately alerts your friends via email when you back our project.

As you can see, it’s a win-win.

In short, if you’re a gamer who feels like conventions should only be run by people who have the cash (who are often largely interested in obtaining more cash), I offer you in turn a chance to help fund a convention from the ground up and add your voice and ideas to the mix.  We listen to you – not a team of investors – because you’re the ones who control our fate.  Without your patronage, there is no TsunamiCon.

Sure… we hope to one day make enough money at one of our cons to pay it forward and no longer require crowdfunding, but for that we need to grow our convention into a much bigger event with more attendees.  Understand that a lot of cons that aren’t even as big as ours frequently fail after just a year or two because the organizers aren’t making enough money to cover their costs and often end up with bad debt.  Nobody likes that arrangement, and by funding it ahead of time we can be confident that our event is paid for.  And at this point, we’re spending pretty much every dollar to make the convention bigger and better.

And by the way… Kickstarter is easier than ever to use.  It takes 30 seconds to make a new account, and you provide your credit card information when you pledge your support, then you’re charged on the last day of the campaign if it funds.  Which also means there’s no risk, because you aren’t charged a thing if we don’t make enough money to fund a convention.

So help us out.  Pledge if you can.  It gets you your ticket early, and the prices won’t get any lower.  Your money contributes directly to the success of the convention, not to line anybody’s pocket.  There’s no downside.  And if you can’t contribute now, at least help us spread the word.  Let your gamer friends know what’s happening, because TsunamiCon 2014 was an amazing experience, and we’re jonesin’ to do it again.

I look forward to seeing you at the con!

V.I.G. (Very Important Gamer)

vigpicWhen we were trying to come up rewards last year to help offer our community uber-fans a way to show their support and get more out of the con, I came across the idea of providing a VIP ticket that comes with some swag and special perks.  The reason was two-fold… One (1), we wanted to engage people who were super-excited about the convention and give them a chance to really show it.  And two (2), we needed a way to bring in extra money up front and offer a suitably powerful reward for our devoted Kickstarter backers.  We offered a full suite of convention swag, including a handmade item that was only offered to VIGs, and a specially-stocked lounge where they could retreat from the craziness of the con and relax for a bit, socialize with their fellow VIGs and convention guests, and grab the occasional snack or soda.  For most of our VIGs at last year’s convention, I heard nothing but praise, well-worth the cost.

Bringing back the VIG program was a no-brainer.  This year we’re at a new location, and the cost of running the con is a little higher across the board.  VIGs will be only marginally more expensive than last year – we’re certainly not trying to soak our most ardent supporters for additional cash – but we’re also upping the game.  VIGs still get a three-day pass and the same great swag: this year’s T-shirt, commemorative dice, a unique gift or two, and anything else we can come up with to add to the mix.  But this year’s lounge will actually be a hospitality suite in one of the hotel’s Executive Lofts on the top floor, just an elevator ride away from the action.  (They’ve been remodeling, so I haven’t had a chance to look in on the updated suite, but as soon as I do I’ll post some pics.)

We still offer two great VIG packages.  Our Silver-level VIGs get everything I’ve already mentioned.  For a bit more, we also offer a limited number of Gold-level VIG tickets, which include access to a special gaming event on Sunday afternoon and dinner that evening with TsunamiCon guests, management staff, and the cast of Metagamers Anonymous.

Best of all, this is the perfect time to take advantage of the program.  Our Silver-level VIG packages are currently available for just $60 (normally $75), which is a ridiculous value.  And our Gold-level VIG is currently only $100 (normally $125).

You can do the math.

Why the deep discounts?  Because right now is when the money matters most.  We’ll be launching our Kickstarter campaign around the end of April, at which point the prices will go up, and the more money we have in the bank prior to launch, the lower our Kickstarter goal can be.  Which I don’t mind telling you is a huge deal.  We want more than anything to be able to provide a fun and successful convention worthy of our community, with plenty of gaming, entertainment and events, tournaments, activities, and so on.  It’s a big undertaking… and it’s expensive.

So help us get the ball rolling on TsunamiCon 2015 and pick up your VIG ticket today!  We’ll make it worth your while…

TsunamiCon 2015 Schedule Announced!

The management and support staff of TsunamiCon, LLC is happy to report that we have officially scheduled this year’s event.  TsunamiCon 2015 will be held at the Wichita Holiday Inn at Kellogg and Rock on October 23rd, 24th and 25th.

Changing locations and weekends for the con was a difficult decision, but we strongly feel that we have made the best decision for the success and expansion of our event.  The staff at the Holiday Inn is enthusiastic and excited to have us on board, and the recently-remodeled facility will provide us with an excellent venue that easily serves our needs.

We are currently offering excellent deals for vendors, advertisers and sponsors interested in being part of this year’s event.  Attendees interested in purchasing VIG packages can also get them at a considerable discount by buying in early.  We will begin regular ticket sales via our Kickstarter campaign, which is scheduled to launch the first of May, at which point prices will be adjusted accordingly.

For further details regarding this year’s convention, follow us on Facebook and keep an eye on our website.