I am all for more funding to support young girls in computing. I would just like to see it applied to those that would not receive such benefits without additional help.
I am not for "shaming" in general, but I feel exposure is the only way to try to set this right. And this is ongoing, Susan Wilson has not withdrawn the Kickstarter which has collected over $22,000 to send a rich girl to summer camp.
I'm raising $829 to cover the cost of attending this RPG STEM Camp for kids
"fund my life" - buying her daughter a laptop (camp provides IT resources"
"fund tuition" - educational camp, pretty self-explanatory
And then the rest of the tastelessness - I'm fairly certain a nine year old isn't at all involved in beer cozies saying "I drink like a girl, keep up!" etc.
Where is the fraud, by the way? What is she lying about? Are the people who are choosing to give their money to this being totally fooled and they think their money will be spent on something completely different?
I suspect a great deal of people's upset is caused by the fact that her mother could afford it. I've got no personal issue with people raising funds however they can. Other people's opinions differ, of course.
I don't consider a training course necessary to create the product "fund my life", but again other people do. Presumably they'd be happy with a mountain of textbooks and some expensive hardware (although some of them complain that she intends to also buy a laptop, brilliantly on the grounds that it's a common item in their particular social environment, which presumably means that it's something they had to buy with their own money so why should she get one for free).
As to Fraud from the Kickstarter: "My goal is to raise $829 to cover the cost of RPG Camp." The fraud is the implication the girl needs the money and won't get to go if we don't fund it. Or any implication this will help other girls than this one. Additional fraud is the Kickstarter is being run by a minor who can't enter into contracts, set up Amazon/Paypall accounts and so on.
I guess it isn't fraud if you have enough after the fact apologists.
I guess I'd leave it up to the funders of a particular project whether they think giving already-rich people more money is a good use of their own money. Some kind of mandatory disclosure of existing net worth could be an interesting twist, to make sure people aren't misled about the requester's existing financial situation. But I doubt KS would go for that.
Personally, this sounds like people engaging in heavy amounts of wishful thinking and poor reading comprehension, then blaming the other guy when they find out they got it wrong.
"My problem is rich people soliciting donations for their selves (under the sneaky implication they are somebody who needs this)."
Are you by chance a citizen of a major first world country? If so, have you tried to do anything about this already? Major industries constantly take subsidies and kickbacks and all the rest of it that they don't need, with the money being funnelled to wealthy people. Have you written to your representative to ask about this? If not, maybe you could start there rather than here.
Regardless of her wealth, I'm not cool with people taking advantage of Kickstarter by exploiting children, people with different lifestyles and serious social issues. Her Twitter campaigning illustrates her intentions even further.
An honest campaign would have been much more driven by the child. When I was this girl's age, I would have pounced at the chance to show people the nerdy stuff I was doing so I could prove how badly I wanted to go to a game dev summer camp, especially because I was a girl. If my mom put this together, I would have been embarrassed and ashamed.
Do away with the weird over-produced secret agent PowerPoint template of a presentation and ridiculous TLDR written by the mother. Do away with the weird marketing materials (a beer koozie that says "I drink like a girl, keep up!"?). Like any other gaming Kickstarter, I want to know more about what I can expect from this game rather than vague bullet-list promises to be "unlike other games", especially when the original cost was only going to cover 5 days of development. The girl has an entire diary of game ideas she could help sell herself with, but instead of substance I get to read trying-to-be-funny commentary not at all written by a 9-year-old.
Caine's Arcade (http://vimeo.com/40000072) comes to mind as a much better way to tell the story of a child's passion through their eyes.
What if the lesson here were to teach how to raise money? What if it were to go through the actual process of building a game (which includes far more than just writing the game)? Instead of looking at it as a scam, this is a mother who is trying to teach her daughter some valuable life lessons that I wish I learned when I was young (I'm male, but that's beside the point).
To put it in terms more germane to technology, she has a brilliant pitch (appealing to gender issues), really good reward items (lots of people get burned by underpricing those) and a really modest goal (even if she doesn't finish the game, everyone chipping money into the kickstarter feels good)
The rewards are continued proof that she has the means to fund the course herself. Having greater incentives means more people will pitch into her grand scheme of profiting off of above "gender issues".
There's no feel-goodery in helping a rich mom sell her daughter out when there are plenty of girls out there who want to do this without the money or mothers to exploit them.
If you didn't know the mother was rich, would you feel the same way? If the mother was destitute yet really creative, and wanted to teach the child certain lessons so that the child could avoid the same fate as the mother, would you be so offended?
"Spamming people over Twitter and Facebook for attention?"
When I was young, I used to go around town with a stapler and a bunch of flyers. Twitter and Facebook is the digital extension of that.
"That whole part of her campaign is distasteful and doesn't do anything but emphasize discrimination"
Suppose you wanted to teach your daughter the fundamentals of business. The fact still remains that there were at least 1100 people willing to chip money into that storyline. And if the lesson here is to find an underserved portion of the market and cater to them (many many many articles discussing this very matter brushed the front page), this project fits the bill.
"The rewards are continued proof that she has the means to fund the course herself."
To put it in perspective, many of the projects on kickstarter could have been funded by the project creators. The Tim Schafer kickstarter could easily have been funded by the man, yet I don't see anyone complaining about that.
It would still be against the TOS, so yes. There was also a KS for an artist who was invited to an art show she was being shown in, but she wanted to take her daughter with her and the artist stipend didn't even cover her own costs, no less her kid's. She used the plea that "if her daughter didn't make it, it would break her heart because everything she does is for her daughter." By pulling people's heartstrings this way, she was able to get enough money to cover not only both of their trips, but some excursions around the city and an additional large-scale art piece for her to bring to the show. Again, against the TOS.
I'm also changing my initial view that even if it were more sincere, I'd allow it. I don't believe that anymore. Indiegogo exists to fill the gaps that Kickstarter does not and allows for things like this. I think the benefit of trying to use KS over IGG is that more people know about it and are therefore more willing to put money into it.
To your point about a mother trying to give your child access to extracurricular activities, most of them have means for low-income parents to get their children into those classes.
> When I was young, I used to go around town with a stapler and a bunch of flyers. Twitter and Facebook is the digital extension of that.
Unobtrusive flyers aren't the same thing as soliciting door-to-door. The only reason this is getting so much media attention is because she's sending this story to all of the outlets she can.
> Suppose you wanted to teach your daughter the fundamentals of business.
"Please keep in mind, we started this campaign to raise about $900 because Kenzie was going to camp and her brothers were asking why she was going to RPG camp b/c it's not like she was going to be able to make a good game. Together, Kenzie and I decided to do this campaign to prove to them that she was smarter than they thought and she deserved their respect."
It wasn't to teach her anything except that her brothers are bullies and people will gladly pay to make them look like the douchebags her mother has no issue portraying them as.
> The Tim Schafer kickstarter could easily have been funded by the man, yet I don't see anyone complaining about that.
Because part of using Kickstarter is to get an idea of if it's something people want in the first place. No one has any issue wanting more females in STEM fields, but this is still an inappropriate way of using the site.
Ultimately that's a question to be directed to kickstarter who, as far as I can tell, has to sign off on the projects before they show up on the site. Regardless of the scruples of the mother, the site still approved this project.
"It wasn't to teach her anything except that her brothers are bullies and people will gladly pay to make them look like the douchebags her mother has no issue portraying them as."
... or to teach her the importance of putting together a really compelling story to attract investors.
"Unobtrusive flyers aren't the same thing as soliciting door-to-door. "
Wait, are you saying that twitter and facebook are door-to-door solicitations? It's far closer to putting up flyers everywhere.
KS does a minor sweep to see if the project meets guidelines, but we've seen what they've allowed through before. It has been linked elsewhere in these threads, but this comment really sums up all of the reasons this woman and this campaign shouldn't exist - http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1awnzx/so_you_know_th...
- What do you think about the usage and portrayal of the sons here?
- What do you think of the $10K reward where the boys apologize?
Followup question depending on your answers:
- Do you approve of teaching about dishonesty by behaving dishonestly?
My own answers:
1) Disgusting and manipulative
2) I don't believe she would do that, but if she did then...
3) That's repulsive
- Girl proposes idea of making a game
- Brothers were skeptical: "She tried with my brothers but they weren't interested."
- Brothers challenged girl, maybe saying something like "you can't do it"
- Girl says "watch me!" and asks mother about going to this RPG camp.
So if you believe that actually happened, the $10K reward where the boys apologize is a really clever lesson. The girl gets her money and the boys lean a lesson about not being overly cynical (after all, someone would have given her $10K)
Of course we don't know what actually happened here.
So my answers are:
(assuming everything stated is true)
1) Disgusting and manipulative (I never would want to cast any of my children in a negative light)
2) Brilliant if it actually happens: no better time than now to stamp out cynicism and negativity
But of course, that assumes the story line is 100% true.
If it turns out not to be the case, then I agree that the entire situation soup-to-nuts is repulsive.
How much do we have to give for them to whip themselves like penitents while they apologize?
It's as if the people donating don't really care that donating more money may complicate things - they just want to donate so they can get their daily "I'm such a nice person" high.
I can't help but wonder whether or not this controversy would have even happened if the donators had stopped at the target amount of 800 dollars.
I do think that Susan Wilson probably doesn't need the money. But more importantly, I think this kickstarter (and however much notoriety it generates) is more what Susan Wilson is after here. It's almost finely crafted to be controversial, just at an edge of what is acceptable, and will be something she can cite for the next decade in interviews. It's clear that this particular woman doesn't need the money, but the fame she generates in exploiting her child is priceless.
edit: for clarity
And, believe it or not, women are people too!
However, having a bunch of money and being able to afford something without Kickstarter is meaningless in this equation. The fact that the mom is a wealthy person has 0 pertinence.
I don't know how much that would cost, but I think we're probably past that now, and I don't see any indication what the rest will go towards.
I've wished in the past that Kickstarter required some sort of open accounting for projects funded through them. But in practice I don't know how that would work. There's no effective leverage outside of setting that as a standard. If someone didn't, nothing could be done other than community pressure.
How is that fraud? Is every millionaire startup founder who raises capital a fraud as well?
* Double Fine Adventure (Tim Schaefer): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doublefine/double-fine-a...
* Yogventures (the Yogscast): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/winterkewlgames/yogventu...
* Veronica Mars Project (Rob Thomas or Kristen Bell): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-m...
* Wasteland 2 (inXile Entertainment, run by Brian Fargo): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2
* Torment (2nd Kickstarter run by inXile Entertainment, before even fulfilling Wasteland 2): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/torment-tides-of-...
* Project Eternity (Obsidian Entertainment, a AAA games company, run by Chris Jones): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/obsidian/project-eternit...
* Project Godus (22 Cans, run by Peter Molyneux): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/22cans/project-godus?ref...
Why a nine-year-old girl and her ostensibly well-to-do mother get called out as "fraud" but not everyone else is something I don't really understand.
This is all that's said about it:
"As I said in the video, I want to create an RPG that isn't too violent and isn't filled with bad words, still has a good story line & cool graphics, but has shorter cut scenes, less menus & fewer controls. And most importantly, I want a game that allows team members to face danger together and get hurt but doesn't kill team mates off & eliminate them from battle."
There's tons and tons of stuff about...well, everything but the supposed project. The game itself is secondary, if that.
So it's hard for me to see how this is really about a project and not about sending someone to summer camp. If that's the case, it would seem to very clearly run against Kickstarter's rules.
Overall, it looks like a bad Kickstarter campaign to fund, but it's not fraud and the level of vitriol about it is over the top. Bad Kickstarters happen all the time, but they don't get this crazy amount of hate.
Whether or not the product is viable or that the girl will be able to complete the game with the funding requested is solely up to the people deciding whether to back it: is a nine year old girl with no prior experience who has to get training in the meantime going to produce a compelling RPG?
It may be an unrealistic campaign, but it's not fraud.
Kickstarter campaigns are ventures, not stores. Everyone involved knows that, or should know that. If you think any specific campaign is too risky, then don't back it, plain and simple. Explain why you don't think it's a realistic project. But running around saying this specific Kickstarter campaign is fraud because it was overfunded and could've been self-funded, but none of the other wildly successful campaigns are, is such a double standard.
To be clear: I think it was a smart move for him—regardless of his net worth—to use Kickstarter, and I think it's an even smarter move—PR-wise at least—to put some of his own money into the Kickstarter (albeit in the end a bit pointless: he could've just cut that amount off the top of the asking amount). I just think it's silly to think people who can self-fund can't use it.
Any of the people I mentioned could've easily fronted the amount they asked for, but they didn't, and that's fine: running a Kickstarter campaign means less personal risk, more publicity, and a chance to hit the lottery with overfunding. It's not fraud.
Not the first time this week HN has embarrassed itself, mind.
Looks to me like a mom & daughter made something together and put it on the internet.
I live in an affluent part of San Francisco (Noe Valley) and last week saw lots of rich moms selling girl scout cookies with their daughters, mom doing all the "work." Is that fraud?
Also, nowhere do I see anything in the article (or the CNN article it links to) about the mom's finances. Just because you have a business does not mean you're rich -- it often means the contrary.
Of course, girl scout money goes to the Girl Scouts, and not the parents or the kids. Whereas, the money collected from this kickstarter goes into Mom's pocket.
So they aren't really he same at all. Of course you knew that.
Very true, but that’s not the card she’s playing on her corporate website:
“Prior to starting The Judgment Group, Susan was a founding member and the Executive Vice President of a technology startup that raised $12 Million in venture capital, became kinkos.com, and was sold in 2000 to the copy giant Kinko’s for $100 Million.” 
It could be that she had no shares and didn't gain anything from the deal, but at the very least, she included the experience to appear that she gained from it.
Personally, I think this could be great, if the parents are doing it properly. The daughter is learning how to achieve her goals with assistance from other people who give willingly, instead of mooching off mom and dad. A lot of children are lucky if they can manage to learn this lesson by the age of 18 (or later... I wasn't exactly an early bloomer here myself), and, managed well, this kid is going to have a good handle on it much faster than that.
So what is little Mackenzie Wilson learning? How to achieve her goals "with assistance from other people"? Or that you can find plenty of suckers on the Internet if you pull on their heartstrings just enough?
The 9 yr old is also not spamming celebs & women's groups on Twitter - http://i.imgur.com/b4l2fI2.png.
This is most definitely a publicity stunt at Kickstarter's expense. Millionaire's begging others to fund their child's camp is not something you see every day, and it most certainly doesn't belong on Kickstarter.
Edit: actually I want to revise that statement, on looking through her website links I think it's more likely this is advertising for her, she's trying to build a brand. I assume she'll go a long way off the back off "next on USA Today, the crowd-sourcing mom!" or something. She's got her own female entrepreneur thing at fundher.com. Maybe that's it.
and probably elsewhere as well.
I certainly wouldn't be engaged in this kind of back and forth when we'd have a company policy on it and probably someone whose job is to monitor and manage this kind of public discussion.
I didn't see it and I didn't try to alter URLs. And I don't want or need the Karma. I don't think it is getting enough attention, so I am trying to help.
Now that I have checked. The others submissions really didn't point out the kickstarter wasn't benefitting anyone but one rich girl. $20,000 for many girls would be a good cause, but this is very much not.
> Kickstarter does not allow charity, cause, or "fund my life" projects.
I suppose one could construe summer camp tuition as "training" and the new laptop she'll be getting (see "Where is the money going" section) as equipment costs. But that's really not what is happening.
It's pretty clear that kickstarter is happy with getting the 5% cut, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of this in the future.
The people calling this fraud are jealous. They look at their own kickstarter campaigns that aren't nearly as successful and wonder why they haven't been as "lucky". Looks like the mother is successfully teaching her daughter how to make her own luck, and that isn't a bad lesson to learn.
However, from Kickstarter's policies:
Summer camp tuition (plus a new laptop) are not good enough as a project goal, IMO, and may very well violate Kickstarter's policies.
In this case, the value of a dollar being "I'll overproduce a PowerPoint, spam some celebrities and women's groups on Twitter, we'll include a few pictures of you being all cute and smiling, and people will just throw money at you!"
"They worked together" - BS. Their merchandise includes beer coolers with adult slogans. Their marketing includes spamming of women's rights groups, and celebrities. You don't honestly believe that this was driven by the nine year old, and not her multimillionaire debt collecting mom, who made her initial fortune squatting on kinkos.com, do you?
In today's world, this actually seems to be correct.
There is so much involved in this project that simply isn't financial.
Going through the process of putting up the Kickstarter project creates accountability and motivation for Mackenzie to actually build and finish the game because she now has a group of people cheering her on from the sidelines.
To me this is exactly what Kickstarter is about: supporting creative endeavors. The financial aspect of it is secondary...don't you think Kirsten Bell could just bankroll the $2m Veronica Mars movie herself? Probably. But with Kickstarter you get the benefit of a built-in support group, and I am just as happy to support Mackenzie whether she's from a rich or poor family.
I'd be happy to back a child interested in tech but I don't think her daughter made this - http://i.imgur.com/F03oG3e.png.
Why on earth would anyone think that? It isn't hard to find out what work she's done : on that page, I see a bunch of guest appearances on TV, roles in a few movies I've never heard of, and a starring role on one TV series, to which she was signed when absolutely unknown. (Unknown actors signed to new programs are typically locked in for years of low pay, because they're "lucky to be working at all".) Also she is listed as producer of one minor movie and one planned movie.
I certainly hope Ms. Bell has good financial habits, but I don't see how she could have saved $.2M from this body of work, let alone $2M, especially while living in Hollywood.
Guess you missed the part that originally, there was absolutely no mention of a game or result in the rewards - that was only added after the tornado touched down.
Whoa, HN double-posted my comment. Never seen that happen before.
(Happens to me every now and then, but the software is smart enough to [dead] the dupes, somehow.)
(And yeah, HN did [dead] the dupe, which I then deleted, I've just never had this happen before).
Sending this signal lets contributors differentiate between these types of kickstarters, which seems to be the problem here.
Though I do agree kickstarter ought to disallow this sort of thing regardless.
i hope they take down this cheating fraud bitch. she has a lot of nerve to be so blatantly stealing other people's hard earned money.
She is not taking anything. People are choosing to give her money. She's not (obviously) defrauding anyone either; she explained what the money is going towards. Maybe it is all a scam and she doesn't exist and it's going on coke n' hookers, but you don't know that any more than I do.
You, however, don't like this, and you don't like that people are choosing to give her some money, but you are unable to express yourself clearly.
All you have is your pathetic rage and your inability to explain what you don't like about the situation. Does it make you feel like a big man? Are you going to start issuing death threats now? You're safe to do that; this is your new throwaway account, yes? So you can let you inner rage out without losing any of your precious social approval.