Last night, Ide @ WORA discovered this Kickstarter project, 'The Written Word'
which "[...]is a multiplayer storytelling game which lives on the internet."
Your first thought may be mine: those already exist, and have for thirty years. We call them MUSHes.
The project proposal goes on: "Well, Massively Multiplayer Write ‘em up is a pretty new genre, But it also picks up on a bunch of stuff you probably understand already.
You might have heard of text adventures - they call them Interactive Fiction now. Even if you’re not as geeky as us don’t worry - basically you’re going to be taking it in turns to tell a story."
So naturally, I was kind of pissed. We've seen this kind of co-opted male-washing of female fandom activities before, where a primarily male-led team charges in to find a business model making money by ripping off the work of female-led fandom. I kicked it to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, where I know lots of female fen outside of MU*ing circles and those who are current/former players. Most seemed to agree with my sentiment and picked up on other disturbing signs.
Here, then, is a complete copy of the private discussion I've been having with Simon of 'The Written Word'.( Complete message thread under this cut )
He's not an unreasonable spokesperson for his project. My concerns remain that he and his group are deliberately writing their Kickstarter goal without addressing the fact that his project firmly exists within a continuity of activities that stretch back to the earliest days of the Internet while presenting itself as something revolutionary. I find it troubling (but not surprising) to learn that he is aware of MU*ing but chose not to mention it even in passing in the project proposal, and I think there's an unpleasant whiff of Internet gender bias in that presentation. I still believe that Simon believes his project is somehow fundamentally different from what it appears to be for me - a new flavor of MU* server.
While I don't object to people turning their hobbies into paying gigs, and support Kickstarter as a great way to finally harness the power of the Internet to do that, I feel like 18,000 dollars is awfully steep.
Simon's promised to check in on this post and address concerns you want to raise. I promise to be a dutiful minder of the discussion and step in if things seem to turn south.
Your turn, ladies! (And gents!)
EDIT: To fix the initial reporter on WORA, and to remove my real name.