Nov 29, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #5: Currency Exchange and Problems

As Kickstarter started growing from its base in US, the number of currencies which creators can use to set up their project started to grow quickly. With the majority of the Kickstarter backers still coming from US, creating a project using a non USD currency will often lead to confusion and misinformation. As not everybody is savvy with the exchange rate around the world, failure to give a quick conversion rate to backers in US and EU may deter backers from backing your project. We created Wongamania: Banana Economy using AUD and since AUD is a weaker currency as compared to USD, the pledge reward will seem to be more expensive as compared to other projects offering the similar rewards. So a AUD25 pledge will be seen as USD25 when the actual pledge amount is only USD18.

Nov 25, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #4 Adobe Photoshop is an Essential Skill

As a blogger, I am used to a wide variety of editing tools the authoring platform allows me to do. Center alignment, highlights, quote marks and if we like, gain access to the HTML codes to work on the layout and format which I will like the blog post to look like.

When I started the creator account with Kickstarter, I was expecting something similar, thanks to the many beautifully crafted Kickstarter campaign pages which I have seen. To my horror, the tools to the Kickstarter authoring tool are way way way too limited...

Nov 23, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #3 Finding a Kickstarter Approved Citizen forProject Creation

One of the biggest headache for any creator who wishes to launch their project at Kickstarter is to find a friend who is willing to help you to be the project creator. As of now, Kickstarter limits the nationality of the creators to the following countries:

USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Germany, France,  Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

There is a few ways to do this but I will discuss the simplest way: Getting a friend or helper to help you.

Nov 22, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #2 Anatomy of a Crowdfunding Creator

I was on my way to meet my team this afternoon for our Kickstarter Meeting for Wongamania: Banana Economy and I ran into an old friend. She was telling that she would be launching an Indiegogo campaign in 6 months time and I congratulated her for taking the courage to get her card game project funded through crowd funding. However, I was a bit concerned for her after I probed a bit deeper on the amount of preparation she has made for her crowdfunding campaign. Our conversation sparked off the inspiration for this blog post on what are the essential functions you need to prepare before running a crowdfunding campaign. This is based on my 2 crowdfunding projects I have ran with the latest one being Wongamania: Banana Economy

Nov 21, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #1 Educating your Friends about Kickstarter

Learning about how to start and run a Kickstarter campaign is extremely painfully, especially when you are living in a country which is not supported by Kickstarter. We tried to look for online material relevant to an Asian creator aspiring to start a project on Kickstarter but there isn't any dedicated blog or information about it. We had to resort to message fellow Singaporean Kickstarter creators to learn more about the "Hows and Whats" but the information we got were still pretty scarce.

As we embark on our journey to get Wongamania: Banana Economy funded, I thought that it will be interesting to write down my experiences, learning points and key experiences from other fellow Asian Kickstarters creators on my personal blog to help all those aspiring Kickstarter creators around the region.

Nov 20, 2015

Why a Good Theme and Background Story is Important Even for a Financial Game

Wongamania started its roots as an education game in the mid of 2014 in collaboration with the Stock Exchange of Malaysia to engage college students and get them interested in the world of finance and economics. We design the game based on the perception that young adults will be more interested in a quick to play card game designed primarily to be fun with subtle economics and financial concepts embedded within the game. The game was extremely well received and we went on to release the retail edition of Wongamania in Jan of 2015. Wongamania was considered as a commercial success as we were left with less than 30 copies of our 1st print run to date, considering that we are operating in an extremely small tabletop market, which is considered to be commercially unsustainable for any publishers to survive. Most of the game designers went on to design digital game, which is strongly supported by the Singapore government, leaving the tabletop design industry a virtual wasteland. There are currently 4 active Singaporean table top publishers with products out for retail sale, and all of them are less than 3 years old. We were one of the first publishers to be born for this new wave of board game resurgence in Singapore and we have few points of references locally when we first started. There are many concepts which we failed to take into consideration when we first started designing the game and one of which, is the background story and theme of the game.

Nov 13, 2015

Game Start Asia 2015 - First Glimpse of Sony Playstation VR System

What is a game convention only without any board games!

Capital Gains Studio bravely ventures into the world of digital gaming and set up a booth at Game Start Asia 2015 to showcase the beauty of cardboard and social interaction via their economic board game, Wongamania: Banana Economy.

Game Start Asia has allocated a business day on Friday to allow media, game insiders and VIP guests to have a first look and try at some of the latest games available. Consumers will be able to attend the convention on Saturday and Sunday. After showcasing the beauty of cardboard games for a couple of hours, we decided to venture to the gaming booths which has a relatively light crowd.

After my experience with Tokyo Game Show whereby there are long queues everywhere, making it almost impossible to play some of the best and innovative games out there. Getting a slot in one of the virtual reality games is mission impossible.

The Crowd at Tokyo Game Show
Thus, the first port of call of Game Start Asia is the Playstation VR Booth whereby we get to pick on of the 6 programs which we can try/ I tried out Summer Lesson which is essentially a Japanese style dating sim whereby you get to be a Japanese Sensei, teaching a hot gorgeous blond chick about Japanese. She sits very close beside you and you stare into her eyes, while you stare into hers. Irresistibly, you will feel like reaching out your hand to.....

Nov 7, 2015

How to Invest in a Rising Interest Rate Environment

In the last economic update whereby I provide the rationale for the aggressive allocation into Europe, I have essentially summed up some of the most important economic events for the month of October. The  release of a stronger than expected US Job report on 6th of Nov had analysts scrambling to pronounce that there is a possibility of an interest rates rise again.... up from a near zero probability a week ago, before the end of 2015. I just wish that these analysts will just make up their minds and stop scrambling around like confused hamsters while trying to look smart at the same time.

In any case, a rising interest rate environment is not neccessarily a bad thing.

In an interview with Robert R. Johnson, the author of Invest with the Fed, Johnson sums up the impact of interest rates on the US stock market in one paragraph:

"Over a 48-year period from 1966 through 2013, the S&P 500 (SPY) returned 15.18% during expansive periods  and only 5.89% during restrictive periods.  The Fed was expansive and restrictive about the same amount of time.  One of the most interesting findings of our research is that stock market returns are not as correlated with the level of interest rates (whether rates are high or low) as they are with the direction of interest rates (whether rates are trending up or down)."

His findings is similar to my hypothesis, based on a personal research that I have done compiling historical interest rates and stock returns data. In fact, during 2005-2007, when the US interest rates was on the rise, the US stock market performed positively, thanks to the halo effect of the perception of an improving economy with many investors still willing to put money in the stock market in spite of a more attractive saving rate. However, what happens after the rise of interest rates often ends in an economic shock or recession. That is another story best reserved for another day.

On the topic of equity investment out of US, Johnson has this to say: 

"The good news for investors is that emerging markets (EEM) and frontier markets (FM) have exhibited a very different pattern with respect to Fed monetary policy.  Emerging and frontier markets have performed much better when the Fed has been restrictive than expansive.  I would caution that this evidence is based on a much shorter sample period than the nearly half-century period for the traditional asset classes."

I tend to disagree with this statement as the economic status quo has changed some what with the rise of China and her economic might. Many a times, interest rate was being raised in respond to an expanding economic situation in US which translate to a rise in demand for goods and services which are manufactured in emerging markets for the past 60 years. The emerging economies benefited and their stock market rose as a result. However, in the past 20 years, the dependence on the US economy has wane and the main driver of the emerging market economies, especially for East Asia, has been China. For example, China is currently the largest trade export partner for Singapore which has over taken Malaysia and US in the past decade.The expansion of the US economy will no doubt benefit Singapore, but a contraction of the Chinese economy will have a bigger impact on our economy, greatly offset any benefits that we gain from US. The Singapore trade story is similar to many economies in Asia and I will not still not place my bets on Asia, contrary to the research done by Johnson.

My strategy is to still consistently maintain the majority of the portfolio into the US and Europe market and maintain a token allocation into the Asian markets as what I have done in the past 3 years.

Portfolio Performance

Our switch into equities during the worst of the September correction has yield returns at last and the portfolio gained 2.13% for cash and 3.22% for OA/SRS for the month of October. The non-cash portfolio did better due to a sharp fall in USD as a result in a surprised positive performance by the Singapore economy, leading to a strengthening of the SGD. However, I expect the sharp rise in SGD to be temporary as the MAS pursue of gradually weakening the SGD for export competitiveness and the rise in US interest rates will no doubt improve the performance of the USD cash portion of the Cash portfolio. We are unable to capture the full performance of the equity market during the rally period in October but I was cautious in allocating the full amount into the equity market for the fear of a false rally. In any case, we are on track for a year with superior performance in a difficult year where most of the Asian and Emerging Market stock indices are still mired in red. The portfolio was able preserve the capital and maintain low volatility by not falling more than 1% in a single month during 2015 thanks to this cautious approach and I intend to keep it that way.  

Why You Should Stop Dreaming And Start Creating!

Many of my friends have a dream.

A dream to write a book, publish a game, create a comic strip, design a cool gadget, produce a music CD.

Most of them have some sort of blueprint or initial draft scribbled on a notepad or hidden deep within the recess of their hard drive. The excuses of not fulfilling their dreams are pretty similar: "I am not good enough for a publisher to take up my work!"

Now, stop dreaming and start creating because the gatekeepers (publishers, music labels, editors, producers) are no longer holding hostage to the creative industry, thanks to the rise of social media and crowdfunding.

The king of crowdfunding platform, is no other than Kickstarter.

Wongamania: Banana Economy is slated to be launched on Kickstarter on 19th Nov 2015 but we have received a ton of question what is exactly Kickstarter and how does it work. Since Kickstarter projects mosty originate from US and Europe, it is not surprising that many Asians do not understand exactly how Kickstarter work. Therefore, I have compiled a FAQ on Kickstarter, hopefully to inspire dreamers to start creating and to help supporters understand how it works so that they can help their friends fulfill their lifelong dream.

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a US based crowdfunding platform which has successfully helped to finance some of the most successful creative projects raising more than $1.9 billion dollars in funds in creative projects, such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology and food-related projects. Some of the most successful projects include: Pebble Smart Watch (USD 30 million),  Coolest Cooler ( USD 13 million), Exploding Kitten card game ( USD 8.7 million), OUYA video game console ( USD 8.5 million), Shenmue III video game (USD 6.3 million), Pono Music (USD 6.2 million), Veronica Mars Movie (USD 5.7 million).

How does Kickstarter work?


A creator with a project will list their projects on Kickstarter and state how much they are intending to raise before they are able to commence on the design and production of the project. The creator than will decide on how they will thank the backers by delivering to them either a copy of the product that they are creating, or other relevant goods and services. Many projects also offer creative experiences: visits to the set, naming characters after backers, personal phone calls. Backers who like the project and wish to see the project come to life, can pledge any amount of funds to the project and they are often rewarded proportionately to the amount of funds that they pledged.

Kickstarter project by fellow game designer: Dominic Huang

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