How to Raise Money to Travel to a Fighting Game Tournament
Lately there seems to be an increase in players trying to raise money to get to Evo or other fighting game tournaments. While there is nothing inherently wrong with either asking for or giving money, like anything in life, there are more effective and less effective ways to accomplish your goals.
In this article, I will attempt to summarize some of the ways in which I raised money to help myself and other American 3rd Strike players get to Japan for the Super Battle Opera tournament in 2008 as well as look at the ways that other people raise money for FGC and non-FGC causes.
Here’s the TL;DR for those with short attention spans like myself:
1. Produce something useful like video, audio or written content
2. Give something in return such as downloads or lessons
3. Show people how you will represent them and their money
Raising Money for SBO
To give a little bit of background since I have no idea who will be reading this, SBO was the most prestigious Japanese tournament at the time and myself, Justin Wong and kofiend qualified to represent America in 3rd Strike. In years past, the tickets had been covered by the arcade that hosted the qualifying tournament. This year that was not the case and we were on our own when it came to plane tickets and lodging.
After putting in a lot of production work into projects like the Denjin Video Family Fun Arcade Ranking Battle Series as well as the Ask Dr. Sub-Zero Podcast, I had a fair grasp of producing fighting game content and came up with the idea that producing a new kind of content might help our cause to go to Japan to represent America.
I came up with The Street Fighter Podcast and decided to produce a show where myself and other top players would discuss 3rd Strike strategy and release it for free to the masses, while asking for donations to help fund our trip in return. This would serve the dual purpose of filling a niche that we didn’t even realize existed (fighting game strategy discussion) as well as helping to fund the trip.
Oftentimes players in similar situations simply ask for donations without really providing anything in return. It may seem trivial now, but in retrospect there was really very little content being produced like it, especially from proven top 3rd Strike (and then SF4) players at the time like pyrolee, 5 Star, Justin Wong, etc. who were all guests on the show.
Raising money for a cause is pretty similar across the board, whether you’re a girl scout selling cookies, a member of Greenpeace soliciting donations to save Mother Earth or a fighting game player trying to get to Evo. Let’s take a closer look at some of these situations and see why they are effective or not effective.
Girl Scout Cookies
In America, young girls in girl scouts organizations sell girl scout cookies to raise money for various activities like camping or whatever, I really have no idea what they do with the money. What I do know is that most people have a little sister, cousin or neighbor that is either directly or indirectly (through a mom, co-worker, friend, etc) that is trying to hawk their delicious little wares on you.
What are the contributing factors of why this works?
1. Cuteness factor - Very few people are going to say no to a cute little girl trying to raise money so she can go to various girl scout activities. Not all young people are enterprising, so those that are become instantly respected and the buyer receives a good feeling for contributing to a cause.
2. Sweets factor - Goddamn these little cookies are delicious! You know deep down the little girl gets zero dollars from the sale and ultimately some corporate girl scout officer decides what to do with the money that’s received, but ultimately, even if you don’t know or don’t care what they do with the money, you got these cookies to munch on and they were cheap.
3. Philanthropic factor - You understand inherently that this little girl has very little to no income capacity. She’s not old enough to hold down a job at McDonalds, therefore you have no internal conflict as to whether or not to support her cause. Plus, girl scouts have a reputation of being contributing members of the community, therefore you are doing a good thing by buying these cookies.
Overall Fundraising Score: A+++, would give again.
Now let’s take a look at how an unnamed, generic fighting game player might raise money similarly. Keep in mind, I have not looked at how anybody in doing it in particular because I rarely watch other people’s streams, so I’m not putting anybody on blast, I’m just going on how I think they’re doing it.
1. Lack of cuteness factor - This is a tough one to overcome. You’re a dude asking money from other dudes to go to something they either wish they could go to or already are going to. Tough sell.
2. Lack of sweets factor - What do you get for donating? Well, hmm, let’s see. Are you mailing out cookies? Naw..didn’t think so. Are you giving out training lessons to donators on your stream? Maybe some of you are? The equivalent of getting cookies in the FGC would be some kind of exclusive video download that generates some kind of value for the supporter like education or entertainment (Excellent Adventures, anyone?).
3. Philanthropic factor - This is probably the only factor that raising money to travel for fighting games and selling girl scout cookies have in common. You are basically asking guys who have a few extra bucks due to being on top of their grown-ass man game to send a few your way so that you can live the dream they currently are not living. Even though most people are convinced the entire FGC is poverty, the amount of money being tossed around for donations to various FGC-related causes determined that was a lie.
This means that appealing to those more fortunate than you may actually work and these guys can live vicariously through you!
Now let’s see what we can do to fix the problems with the current model.
1. Cuteness. This one cannot be overcome. Unless you’re a gamer gurl using her b00bz to get to Evo, you’re outta luck on this one, sorry.
2. “Sweets.” This one actually is pretty easy if you put in just a tiny bit of effort. Giving back to people who donate to your fighting game cause should be relatively straightforward if you are appealing to the right people. This means doing things like giving lessons to donators, sending them an exclusive video you made showing them some strategies for your character(s), or just providing overall useful content and asking for a small donation in return.
3. Emphasizing that you are going to be representing a certain area or type of people that have donated to your cause is important. A perfect example of this is the r/kappa Evo fundraiser that is sending Tampa Bison and Alex Myers to Evo. Even though these guys didn’t raise the money so they could go to Evo (they were chosen), they will be rockin’ the sweet r/kappa shirt while they’re there and everyone who bought a shirt to support the cause (myself included) will be proud that they contributed to a worthy cause.
So after all of this, where does this leave you, the hopeful Evo attendee? Well, unfortunately since we are less than three weeks away, if you haven’t already made a name for yourself with a popular stream or YouTube channel, you are probably not going to be able to raise enough to make a difference and go on this last minute trip.
But what you can do is plan for next year by starting now. It doesn’t matter if you’re an unknown player, you certainly have the capacity to create useful content that can be used to generate small donations so that you can pay for a plane ticket, hotel, food and registration.
If you don’t know anything about creating content, if you start now you’ll have a year to learn. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you need help.