09/27/2010

Only 7 Days Left: Please Lend Your Support To Babycastles Manhattan

by Matthew Hawkins

Alright, we’re almost there! As of this writing (around 3:30am, Eastern Standard Time), the total for the Babycastles Manhattan’s Kickstarter is at $4,874, just a little over a grand from our goal of six thousand dollars! And before going any further, a gigantic THANK YOU to each and every person out there who believed us worthy enough for a donation. It truly means a lot. Though I hate to say it, but that $6,000 amount is still not enough. How come? Let me explain…

And at this point that I should perhaps also reiterate some facts, for the new folks out there. Because this blog has recently gotten a considerable influx of fresh eyes (welcome btw), thanks to my R2-D2 as the ultimate gaming solution post getting picked up by Kotaku! Plus, a colleague of mine asked me to make the following post, mostly to serve as reference point that can be easily passed along. Which I’m more than happy to oblige with. So for those of you might not be familiar with it, I must ask:

Have you heard of Babycastles yet?

It’s a question I’ve tried answering already, but once again and from the top: Babycastles is a relatively new institution, but one that has made quite the impact during its short existence thus far. First and foremost, it serves as New York City’s one and only indie arcade! And as anyone involved in the game space here in the Big Apple knows already, we’ve come far in a very short amount of time. Aside from NYC finally becoming a force to be reckoned with in the world of game creation, something that many claimed would never happen to any significant degree, we’re also where groundbreaking game education takes place, where some of the finest minds in our industry are inspiring the next generation of creators at learning institutions across this great city.

Yet a serious problem persists; despite all advances and cool stuff going on, there’s still a serious lack of any real game culture to speak of. Your average Joe walking down 14th Street is blissfully ignorant of the wild and wonderful world that is indie gaming, and how much of it is happening all around already. Plus many of those who are involved have no real place to gather and display their creations, other than industry events that mostly other professionals only know about. The public needs to be included, somehow.

That’s where Babycastles comes in; at its home-base in Ridgewood Queens, at the music/performance venue Silent Barn, myself and others have been running shows in which a new crop of curated games each month have been wowing both hardcore and casual gamers alike, along with industry types. But don’t take my word for it; check out what others have been saying…

- Attract Mode: “The CBGB?s of Video Games”
- Rhizome: “New York DIY Arcade”
- Motherboard: “Where Punk Rock & Homemade Videogames Live In Sweet Harmony”
- bushwickbk.com: “At Babycastles, God Mode for Indie Gamers”
- LA Times: “In a Queens neighborhood, the birth of indie video games”

… And now we’re set to take Manhattan by storm! Starting in less than two weeks, and in conjunction with Showpaper, we’ll be running an indie arcade in the heart of midtown, down the street from Times Square and right next door to Grand Central Station. Some truly amazing programming has been lined up, including [note: the following are still tentative]: selections from both the Experimental Gameplay Project & the Independent Games Festival, Raina Lee & Attract Mode, Gaijin Games, Pixeljam, Eric Zimmerman & Nathalie Pozzi, Eddo Stern, student works from NYU, Parsons, & Columbia University, plus much more yet to be announced, including game related musical performances, film screenings, talks, and workshops.

Unfortunately, there’s one thing standing in the way of such a momentous gathering, and it’s finances.

Well, how can I help exactly?

As previously noted, we have a Kickstarter, and even though things are going okay at the moment, there’s still concern that the goal might not be met in the end. And the whole truth of the matter is, that $6,000 only covers the barest of expenses; mostly tech related, as well as materials for building exhibits and installations. To put in bluntly, having more money available will allow our artists to achieve their visions in a more complete and uncompromised fashion.

For starters, any amount of money would be profoundly appreciated. Nothing is too small, though I would like to point out the wonderful incentives we have available at a number of different donation levels, including download codes to hit indie games, signed copies of game zines, original artwork, and autographed copies of Katamari from the creator himself, Keita Takahashi, to name but just a few!

But just as vitally important (maybe even more so) is your help in spreading the word. If you would be kind enough to pass along our mission statement to your friends and colleagues, via blog posts, Twitter, and/or Facebook, the goal is sure to be met (and hopefully then-some). Furthermore, if you happen to be a member of the media, myself and other members of the Babycastles crew would be delighted to assist in any sort of coverage that might be possible for your outlet (personally, I believe both the fundraising effort, along with the simple fact that such a thing even exists is more than a little newsworthy). Plus there’s plenty of press materials to help get started, so please do not hesitate to ask.

I also cannot stress enough how legitimately historic such a public space for gaming in New York City has the potential to be. For years game makers and players alike have been lamenting the lack of serious game culture in NYC, which is capital of the world for pretty much everything else: film, music, acting, you name it. So the time is now to finally make a mark and let our presences be known. It’s also no exaggeration to say that the rest of the world is watching to see how Babycastles Manhattan fares; I’ve personally spoken with folks clear across the globe, as far as Japan and Australia, all hopeful that such an initiative will succeed to potentially inspire similar efforts on their own. Hence why anyone out there, specifically those who do not live anywhere close to New York City and might be asking why they should care, should most definitely still do so.

Thanks in advance for your time and any assistance you might be able to provide. Together we can help being indie gaming goodness to the island of Manhattan!

UPDATE, 4:25pm EST: This just in… IGN will be matching 100% of every donation until the deadline! For additional information, please check out this Gamasutra news item.

Not only that, but we have officially made our goal!!! This absolutely amazing, and once again a most sincere thank you to everyone that has helped thus far. Still, as noted above, that $6k only scratches the surface, so further assistance is required. But remember, any dollar amount you would be so kind to offer will be matched by IGN! Let’s make Babycastles Manhattan the biggest and best that it can be!

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