Hmm, seems I'm a little behind schedule with this... my apologies. What can I say, life happens. Better late than never, so I want to take this opportunity to address one of the newer avenues the FGC has in terms of sustaining itself: crowdfunding.
Now, this is by no means a new thing. Sites like Kickstarter, Patreon & GoFundMe have been around for a good while. However, allow me to frame this a little better for you. As some of you are aware, k-p-b.com went dark for a few months last year due to some functionality issues with WordPress. Because of those technical difficulties, I wasn't able to address something that I noticed last year that frankly annoyed me. If you're curious as to what I'm referring, ask yourselves a quick question: What happened last year that Aphro couldn't comment on that he can this year? Well, the answer is simple... the aftermath of EVO 2015.
Before anyone accuses me of lamenting the performance of the Americans this year, you can relax. That's not the particular aftermath on my mind. I'm talking about the swell of people who, after all the dust had settled in Vegas, turned to the internet and started asking for money to help fund their trip to next year's EVO. For a number of reasons, this bothered me greatly. Not the least of which is because of my (family's legendary) pride. Long story short, I'm not a huge proponent of asking for either help or money. Over the last decade or so, I've thankfully made strides in breaking myself of that obstinate habit. (Case in point, bringing in KPB|Parappa to help keep things here interesting... but I digress.)
If there is one problem that the FGC has as a functional entity is that we are collectively bad with money. Not talking about assbetting, either. Regardless of whether or not we're aware of it & despite all our bravado, the FGC is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the profitability of competitive gaming. Sure, it is breathtaking when a studio gets behind its game & puts money up for it like Aksys did for BlazBlue at last year's EVO. We've been fortunate enough to see that become a steadily more frequent practice. However, in the scope of competitive gaming, fighters are WAY down the list. Some claim it can be the exclusivity of it all. Let's face it, end of the day, only two people can play these games at a time on a quote unquote "professional" level. Meanwhile, other games embrace the gladitorial/team-based aspects. There are others who would claim that our 'ghetto' mentality makes us unappealing for consumer exposure. Sadly, there are some grains of truth to both complaints. While it's not exclusive to the FGC, we tend to wear it on our sleeves a bit too much. Other game communities suffer from their own pitfalls, but their inclusivity allows for more scrutinous action to be taken. We tend to just write it off part of the culture. Compare that to any MOBA or FPS title and you'll see just how canyonesque the disparity is between their profitability & ours.
What does any of that have to do with people asking for money? Well, think about it... because the FGC (as a whole) is such a tight knit patchwork of humanity, they're basically just hitting up people they know for money. The key difference is that the requests are made public by going online with it. There's also the partial conflict of interest with their intentions. Most crowdfunding campaigns are brought about to make certain good things better or to lend aid to a worthy cause. For example, I donate every month to OverClocked Remix's Patreon because I enjoy the service they provide & want to see it expand. In return for my donation, I get a free album download. Cause & effect, give & take, supply & demand... a perfectly functional symbiosis. Where's the functionality of me just giving someone (who I might not even know) money so that they can go somewhere (without me)?
This lack of clarity poses a number of issues and, frankly, lowers the core concept of crowdfunding to joke status. We've all seen or at least heard of someone going on a crowdfunding site and creating a fund for something wholly ridiculous. (Buying godhood ring any bells?) There's also a murky consequence of simply not knowing where this money ultimately goes. For a moment, humor me by listening to a purposefully extreme hypothetical example: Imagine you give one of these people asking for money to get to EVO 2016, they reach their goal, fly out to Vegas and do something wildly illegal. Next thing you know, you're seeing their face on the news & a strange guilt takes root in your gut. You just enabled something terrible to happen. Although I'm being hypothetical, I hope you can see the point I'm looking to make.
There's also the radical concept of people budgeting their money over the course of a year to make their EVO dreams a reality. If I'm to be completely honest, that's the option I'd choose before going online with my hands out. (Heheh, there's that pride again.) Depending on what your level of income may be, make it your business to save/put aside $20 - $25 every week. Within a year's time, you'll have upwards to about $1,300 to dedicate towards your EVO trip. Whatever your travel arrangements are (splitting a hotel room, crashing with friends or family, plane ticket, etc), that should go a long ways in covering you for that spectacular Vegas weekend. It's not impossible, it just requires hard work & dedication... much like competitive gaming itself.
None of this is to say that you can't help out a friend trying accomplish something. Last year, a few members of Kick-Punch-Block pooled our resources together in order to send KPB|Crusher to Vegas. We wanted to see him compete, so the team helped out a teammate. Simple & clean. It was our idea and we kept it in our circle. Furthermore, I'm not saying all of this to put you off the idea of crowdfunding. As a member of the FGC, if you see a cause that you want to invest in -- help your favorite streamer update their equipment, donate to keep a local venue open or assist a foreign player in getting to a national tournament outside their home country -- then do it & do it until you're satisfied!
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.