This is a concept that I come across from time to time, it seems to be wide-spread and common, yet it is one that I disagree with for a lot of reasons. For instance, recently I saw someone on a MMORPG forum saying that people ought to pay money for the MMOs that they play because they have to “support the genre”. In another case, someone suggested that people should fund as many Kickstarter boardgame projects as they can in order to “support the genre”. I’ve talked about Kickstarter and my problems with it before. However, as I said, I have a major issue with this concept and this issue goes back many, many years. We should not be supporting a genre, just to support a genre, we should be supporting quality products.
See, this goes back probably 20-25 years, back into my days in furry fandom. Yeah, I know, but at the time it wasn’t the cesspool it would later become, it was actually relatively respectable, fun and enjoyable past time. However, there were a lot of people who thought that you should do anything and everything that you could to support the genre. Buy products, whether they were good or not, to support the genre. Buy artwork, even if it was crap, to support the genre. Fanzines? Comics? APAs? Lay out money for all of them so that you would encourage more people to enter the fandom, produce more products, do more art, write more stories and make the fandom larger and more diverse.
I suppose on the surface, it sounds like a good idea, but the problem with this ultimately is that if you support anything and everything without concern for quality, you only encourage more bad quality products and more low-talent individuals entering the fandom to make a buck. Buying every half-assed piece of artwork, every badly-produced fanzine, every cheesy comic that comes out, in the hopes that quality products may magically appear down the line is really a bad idea. Before you say that’s not what they meant, it absolutely is. Someone drawing a stick figure with a tail ought to be purchased in hopes that they will continue to work on their craft and eventually, maybe, make something worthwhile someday.
Yet this is really a silly idea. If people can make money producing crap, why would they ever try hard to improve? What’s the point? This is especially true of people whose prime motivation is making money. If you can spend 30 seconds scribbling a cartoon and there’s a line of people willing to pay you $10 for it, what impetus do you have to improve your craft, such that you can produce a really good, intricate drawing that takes a half hour and only makes you $30?
This isn’t limited to furry by any means, as I said. There are people who want fans of MMOs to just throw money willy nilly at any game out there, just because they want to support the genre. Maybe instead of that, they ought to be advocating only spending your hard-earned cash on games that are actually good and have earned your financial loyalty? Don’t buy crap you don’t want out of the cash shop, only buy what you actually want to buy and will actually use in game. Throwing away money for things you don’t care about is foolish. The same goes for boardgames. People want more games so they just throw money at anything that looks halfway competent and some that isn’t. Why? Why not support the games that look really great, that have high quality components, excellent gameplay, etc.? Why pay for things that are likely to be crap? I say likely because you never really know with a game on Kickstarter, you’re just taking a shot in the dark and hoping it’s worthwhile.
It really only makes sense to support quality in hopes of driving quality to your chosen fandom. Vote with your wallet, buy what impresses you and demand only the best. It’s the only way that these fandoms are going to have high-quality merchandise available. They will thrive, or not thrive, regardless of what you do with your money. At least get the best you can get while it lasts. It’s the rational thing to do.