3 June 2019 | 16 Comments
Would you rather build a lightsaber or be selected for a magic wand? Today I’m going to use two huge franchises–Star Wars and Harry Potter–and their respective theme parks as examples for a psychological question about Kickstarter and publishing.
Part of the new Star Wars Disney theme park recently opened, and one of the experiences available there is a lightsaber-building shop. As you can see in the video below, the whole experience is dripping in lore and tiny details (like when everyone turns on their lightsabers for the first time). A key element of it is that you are selecting a combination of parts for your lightsaber (1 of 4 crystals and pairs of 4 different parts), all of which seem to be very high quality.
Let’s contrast this with Ollivander’s Wand Shop at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which offers an equally thematic experience, though just for one person out of a dozen or so. Ollivander makes several attempts to pick the right wand, with the wand “casting” errant spells. Eventually he realizes that an off-the-shelf wand is the right pick, even blowing “dust” off of it to make it seem like the wand has been waiting for the right wizard. Here’s the video:
While I’ve only seen these two experiences on video, I think they both seem magical and amazing in their own way. All of the little details and the personal touches seem to make a big difference–they wouldn’t work if they were vending machines. And yes, they’re created to sell products, but they’re making people happy, so I applaud the effort.
That brings us back to the big question of the day, though: Is either of these methods inherently “better,” particularly for creators who want offer something like this? Do you feel more special when you build something unique (like the lightsaber) or when you’re selected to receive something unique (like the wand)?
On Kickstarter, I’ve seen creators use variations of both methods.
- For the “build” option, a lot of projects offer combinations of add-ons so you can customize your product per your specifications (with basic and all-in options offered as reward tiers)
- For the “selected” option, some creators may send special rewards to some backers based on their contributions to the campaign. Sometimes this is a formal process; sometimes it happens behind the scenes.
I think there may be a lot more flexibility and examples beyond Kickstarter, though:
- For the “build” option, Build-a-Bear has created an entire company around the idea of letting kids create their own unique stuffed animals. You may have also heard of the “IKEA effect,” which demonstrates the value people place on things they create and put together themselves.
- For the “selected” option, Wonderbly has a series of children’s books that integrate the name of a specific person into the text and illustrations (even though this requires a building element, the result is that the recipient feels selected and special when they read the book). There’s also the recent game Keyforge, in which every deck is a unique combination of cards, and each deck has a uniquely printed back. Also, there are bespoke clothing services where you tell them about yourself and they send you a box of clothes they think would look good on you.
For a Stonemaier product, I could see a few variations of these techniques, though I’m curious which has more mass appeal:
- For the “build” option, it could involve a specific component in a game, not the entire product. Like, perhaps you use stickers to build your own coat of arms when you open the box (purely for aesthetics–no gameplay components would be permanently altered. Or maybe an entire product could be geared around this concept; for example, we could let people build their own Wingspan birdhouses from a combination of several modular components. Or maybe you could build your own Viticulture board based on your favorite vineyard.
- For the “selected option, an in-the-box concept would probably be some sort of digitally printed component (like Keyforge) or some combination of unique elements that don’t impact gameplay (like a different combination of castle tokens in Between Two Castles). We also have individual numbering on some of our game boxes–it’s a small touch, but I think it offers a sense of uniqueness and ownership. I think the strongest version of this would be if you input information about yourself on our website or even have a brief chat with us, and we used that information to select something unique specifically for you (like a unique quest card for My Little Scythe). This might be difficult to scale.
I’m curious if you have other examples or ideas, and I’d love to hear your general thoughts via the poll below. The lightsaber and the wand are just examples.
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