LA Game Space was our dream—a nonprofit center for exploring and expanding the potential of videogames as a creative medium. It was a labor of love. But after years of intense effort, success was elusive.
Thank you to all who supported and championed the project: interdisciplinary artists and gamemakers, game players, academics, friends and family, and Kickstarter backers. Together, we poured our hearts into seeking a shared vision.
The project began in November 2009. We spent three years planning the space’s functionality, programming, and initial collaborators, while hosting events as a nomadic organization. After selecting a potential location, we launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2012.
LA/GS was envisioned to occupy a large physical space. Galleries would host exhibitions surveying contemporary and historical games, as well as installations and performances. Talks and workshops would emphasize new perspectives for videogames. Research labs would enable live gameplay recordings with bio-data and provide access to a comprehensive selection of game consoles. Artist residencies would be the beating heart of the space—a rotating group of creators from diverse backgrounds working collaboratively on experimental game projects.
Games are capable of great complexity and diversity. Their immersive, interactive and visceral nature allow them to create impact like no other artform. We envisioned LA/GS as a place to explore the radical possibilities of games, where unlikely collaborators would come together and new ideas would be born.
After the Kickstarter campaign, LA/GS leased a space and obtained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. We consulted with architects, had plans drawn up, and began renovations with the long-term goal of rezoning and opening to the public. Simultaneously, we presented offsite events about speculative game design, demoscene design constraints, gameplay as performance, and more.
While building out the space, running events, and pursuing additional funding, we worked hard to distribute rewards to supporters. We are grateful to all of the reward creators who volunteered their time and talent. Releasing the Experimental Game Pack was one of our proudest moments. Although some creators were unable to complete their games, over 30 artists and gamemakers dug deep to contribute 23 experimental games that showed new perspectives and explored what games can be.
Backers pledged $335,657 through Kickstarter. After fees and failed pledges, $306,915 remained. More than half of this was spent on the initial renovation and leasing of the warehouse. The two directors received a modest $46,000 each for over five years of work, and they contributed more than $10,000 of their personal funds in an attempt to keep the project afloat.
The Kickstarter campaign provided LA/GS with a one-year runway. We were unable to raise enough additional support to realize an institution of this scope. Videogames are a commercial medium. Our largest hurdle was overcoming the unwillingness of large benefactors to accept experimental videogames as an artform deserving of their charitable contributions.
In all, we devoted 5½ years of our lives to LA Game Space. Eventually, the long hours, financial burden, and unrelenting stress became overwhelming. Our health deteriorated. We kept pushing until we couldn’t anymore.
But we haven’t abandoned our vision. While LA/GS is gone, its goal remains valid and we encourage others to pursue this dream: To explore and expand the potential of videogames as a creative medium. We will continue to work on new methods of doing this through future projects.
We are proud that LA/GS inspired creators beyond videogames to experiment in the medium and encouraged young artists to pursue game-related degrees. It also fueled university curriculum focused on experimental/artist-driven game design, and some of the concepts behind other nonprofit videogame spaces around the world.
Thank you to all who contributed and everyone working today to realize the vision of LA/GS through their own projects. Games can be different!
— LA Game Space, 2018