Ever now and then I get asked about the ill-fated LA Game Space. I was listed a Board member from the beginning to the final end, which seems to have been August, 2018.
I’m a supporter of the arts which includes indie games, and LA Game Space sounded like the perfect project. I own and operate Giant Robot, which was a magazine in print until the end of 2010 with shops and galleries at that time in LA, SF and NYC. I closed the SF and NY locations but managed to keep the West LA locations in tact to this date. I host art shows, comedy nights, and even indie game nights. I have nearly two decades of experience in finding locations, building them out, opening the doors and even closing them. I'm also involved in putting on events, curating exhibitions, and even keeping the numbers straight.
I met Adam Robezzoli (who I knew and worked with on assorted projects) and Daniel Rehn for an early dinner in 2011 and heard their pitch. I fell for it. What I didn’t know was that I wouldn’t be part of LA Game Space again. That meeting was the only meeting. I figured that my knowledge would help their project, but all they did was take my name, use it as backing, and that was it. I wonder how many invested in their Kickstarter after seeing a list of names they recognized?
In their final summation that was posted on their site in August 2018, I learned that half of the budget of $306,915 (this was their net) raised on Kickstarter went to architecture and building. First off, NO! This is already the wrong move. You don't sink that much into a project at the outset when you know you'll need more capital. Blaming their survival on not having even more money is also alarming.
With $306,915, it’s more than enough to make this space operate for years or at least a year. But not even for one day for the public? 150k in renovations and lease + 92k salaries = 242k of the 306k+ up in smoke, and where did the leftover 64k+ go? Surely it wasn’t the rewards (plenty have complained over the last few years about the quality or lack of rewards from their Kickstarter donations).
And to the claim of this being "5.5 years of your lives?" NO, it was not 5.5 years. And 3 years of planning? You don't get paid for the planning. You banked 92k of the donation money! Just because you sit in a room and dream up a project, it doesn’t mean the paid clock starts ticking. This is already wrong and ridiculous. If this was the case, I’m owed for every dream I concocted. But the difference is you got 92k of Kickstarter money and are now begging for forgiveness. Let's face it, this was either a scam or you're seriously inept. Help was everywhere and transparency was not.
Today the two are around, but LA Game Space is not on their resumes. “5.5 years of their lives” they claim, but it’s all invisible? I’d love to see their tax returns during that span just to see how much of “their lives” this really was. Let's face it, it wasn't.
I also understand that some of you game fans and developers are giving them your best wishes after their final posting. You're stellar examples of hope for those looking for a second, third, or even a fourth chance. But LA Game Space should at least be a cautionary tale of how a fair chunk of Kickstarter (your) money was severely mishandled, how something as easy as opening a "shop" door with $306,915 budget didn't happen, and how casually someone will misuse your name for their profit.
With all this finally said, let’s keep indie games moving forward.