Hey Reddit, I'm the cofounder of Kongregate - my sister runs it now so I can spend more time on other stuff. Today we launched CounterPAC, which seeks to bring sanity and transparency to money in politics. Here's some initial coverage:


And here's one of the ads we're running:


More about who we are and what we're up to on http://www.counterpac.org


(proof: https://twitter.com/jimgreer/status/494918095345954816)

PS - Before I started Kongregate I used to make games. One of them was a strange puzzle-RTS hybrid called Netstorm. Activision published it in 1997, and it got good reviews, but didn't sell. C-Net called it the #1 Game of All-time that Nobody Bought. But it had a great little community, and they are now remaking it in Unity 3d - Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/525138512/disciples-of-the-storm

Comments: 99 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

Gwenhwyfar66618 karma

Why can't I stop playing AdVenture Capitalist?

jimgreer4 karma

I have no idea. Idle games are so weirdly addictive...

PM_ME_UR_KNEE10 karma

What is your favourite game on Kongregate?

jimgreer20 karma

Man, so many choices.

I love games with some kind of experimental mechanism, like Continuity, a great puzzle-platformer where you slide the tiles to rearrange the levels: http://www.kongregate.com/games/glimajr/continuity

All of jmtb02's games are great - I especially love Elephant Quest: http://www.kongregate.com/games/ArmorGames/elephant-quest

gzicherm9 karma

Many people feel hopeless about the situation of dark money in politics. What message would you most like skeptics to hear about creating change in the world?

jimgreer3 karma

First off, we've got the voters on our side. Well over 80% of Americans think money in politics is a serious problem. They're just looking for solutions.

CounterPAC's premise is that we can do a lot to improve things without new legislation or a new Supreme Court majority. If people make money an issue in races, and support candidates who pledge to run a clean race, we can make improvements immediately.

That's why our ads are calling on candidates to sign a legally binding pledge. If any group spends secret money on candidate's behalf, that candidate will donate from their campaign to a charity of their opponent's choice.

We think people from across the political spectrum can agree that voters should know who is spending in their races. We're out to mobilize voters to put pressure on their candidates to do the right thing. We'll spend money to make that happen, but we're also counting on people to spread the word and call their candidates.

oliveturtle6 karma

How did the GameStop-Kongregate partnership come about? Did they approach you or did you approach them?

jimgreer8 karma

They approached us. The great thing about GameStop is that they really leave us alone - when you get bought by a giant retailer in TX it's very different than getting bought by a nearby tech company. A tech company will digest you and use your programmers for whatever they're working on.

GameStop is good at what they do, and they know that it's very different from running a games/community site. So they've trusted us to grow the business on our own. And we have - we were 20 people when they bought us, we're over 60 now. We've gotten into publishing mobile games and the future looks bright. My sister is running it now and doing a great job - I go in a couple of days a week and the programmers still report in to me.

Prowler_in_the_Yard5 karma

Do you ever play games on your own site and just think "Damn.. I made an awesome site"?

jimgreer7 karma

All the time... before Kongregate I was a game developer. I love coming to work and having a new awesome game on our site that we didn't have to do any work to get!

bradleysmith934 karma

Have you ever designed a game? If no, have you ever considered it?

jimgreer2 karma

Yes! Netstorm: Islands at War: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cz_SkFrovA

It was a puzzle-rts hybrid set on islands floating in the clouds. Activision published it in 1997. It didn't sell at all, but it's got a great fanbase that are now remaking it in Unity 3d: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/525138512/disciples-of-the-storm

btso4 karma

I'm one of the moderators on Kongregate and just thought I'd drop in and say hello.

Question: what is your favorite Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson film?

jimgreer6 karma

Thanks for your work - mods are the heart of Kong.

I'm going to go with Fast Five, even though he wasn't the star.

dufuh3 karma

How are your efforts like/unlike Larry Lessig's MayDay PAC?

jimgreer3 karma

I'm actually on the board of MayDay PAC as well, but they are separate efforts. MayDay is trying to elect pro-reform candidates.

CounterPAC actually doesn't care what views a candidate holds. We're 100% focused on the way they run their race. We're running ads calling on andidates to sign a legally binding pledge. If any group spends secret money on candidate's behalf, that candidate will donate from their campaign to a charity of their opponent's choice.

MayDay has to pick sides. We're happy to work with anyone who will run their race cleanly and transparently, even if they are backed by the Koch brothers or others - as long as their backers aren't anonymous.

Delta_Creeper3 karma

Why is the mascot of Kongregate an ant?

jimgreer15 karma

Early on we talked to Edmund McMillen (who went on to make Super Meat Boy) about coming up with a logo for us. He drew a lot of concepts, we liked the ant best. Ants are individually weak, but strong when they come together - that evoked the community of game developers and players that we were looking to build...

Dabee6253 karma

Did you ever consider calling it KounterPac?

jimgreer8 karma

Hah, briefly - I find myself mixing it up with Kongregate enough as it is, as in "I started Kongregate to help get dark money out of politics. Oh wait, no, that's Flash games."

wilfra2 karma


jimgreer3 karma

Nice! I'll have one of our producers check it out and give you some feedback.

cheesy_meat2 karma

What site do you think is your biggest rival?

jimgreer6 karma

Newgrounds and Armor Games. Miniclip and Addicting Games kind of seem to have given up though.

kylionaire2 karma

Increasing transparency is great for consumers, but do people actually care? I'm sure you expect lots of "fights" with wealthy individuals looking to remain secret in their donations, and candidates who are raising funds... do you have a security guard?

jimgreer3 karma

I do think people care, they just don't take action because they feel helpless. I don't think transparency fixes everything, but I think it's a very good first step.

I'm not too worried about my personal safety... there's a lot of hate out there but there's a lot of other high-profile targets besides me!

tomwilko2 karma

Gaming and Politics seem pretty far removed areas to be involved in. What has encouraged you to start CounterPAC?

Also as a British reader - where can I find more info on PACs and the American political system? (besides Wikipedia etc.)

jimgreer3 karma

When you design a multiplayer game, you're trying to design incentives and rules to channel players' competitive energy and aggression into an experience that's fun and fair for everyone. That's true of a community-based site as well.

Back in the 90s me and my friend and CounterPAC cofounder, Zack Booth Simpson, were working on a game called Netstorm. At that time John McCain and Russ Feingold were just starting their campaign finance reform effort. We got to thinking - it's great that they're doing that, but there's a paradox in the government trying to regulate itself. The guys with money are always going to react faster than the legislators and regulators.

That made us wonder whether you could have a private organization that would be on the "good guy" side. We had various ideas, but no time or money to make it happen.

Now I do have the money, and I stepped back from Kongregate to make the time.

Also as a British reader - where can I find more info on PACs and the American political system?

I love this essay Lessig wrote last month: https://medium.com/@lessig/whats-so-bad-about-a-superpac-c7cbcf617b58.

His book is great too: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446576433/

TheDot212 karma

Aside from secret donors and "dark money", how do you feel about the reality of corporate money in politics? Do corporations have too much control over our politicians as it is, and is CounterPAC looking to expose and confront these issues?

jimgreer3 karma

Everyone thought Citizens United would unleash a flood of corporate money. Actually that didn't happen, at least not directly. As Lessig writes:

"Only a handful of publicly traded corporations embraced their newly secured freedom to spend whatever they wanted to influence political campaigns, at least openly. When they did, activists on the other side showed them the high costs of free speech. Target, for example, suffered a heavy backlash for supporting an anti-gay rights candidate for governor in Minnesota. In 2012, very few for-profit corporations spent any money on political campaigns at all."


Instead, the tiniest fraction of the 1% is spending through SuperPACs. In 2012, 132 Americans funded 60 percent of the SuperPAC money raised in that election cycle.

CounterPAC is focused on transparency right now - making sure that everyone knows where the money comes from. Eventually we'd like more of it to come from small donors, but that's phase 2.

TheDot212 karma

How do you feel about "free-to-play" games which aim to addict players with a very specific model, attempting to squeeze money out of them with pay-2-win microtransactions? Are you happy with the way these have become much more prevalent on Kongregate, or would you like to see more indie developers with original, engaging, non-soulcrushing content?

What do you see as the future of Kongregate?

jimgreer3 karma

I think there can be a way to do free-to-play right - and I think the games that treat players right will be around for the long haul. We're trying to make it easy for indies to compete with the big players on mobile - and today that realistically means free-to-play.

jusksmit2 karma

Developer here! Before the question: Kong's the best damned portal out there, for both players and devs. You guys have the best community, one of the best APIs, and basically the only revshare model that's even worth talking about. So thanks for being awesome.

Do you have stats on Unity plugin penetration for your playerbase? I'd love to see the numbers.

jimgreer3 karma

Unity penetration is very high on Kong because we've promoted Unity games for a long time now. If you look at page loads for Unity game pages, 93% of the time the browser has Unity installed. That's a little self-selected, because we put the Unity logo on the game icon so you know before you click - but still it shows that it's very viable.

Rigel8082 karma

Lets say I'm a candidate who doesnt have big backing up against an incumbent who does. Is there something to stop a well financed group from spending ineffective money (buying billboards in the middle of nowhere for example) forcing a less well financed candidate to give up what he has raised?

jimgreer1 karma

Good question - we call this the "sham ad" problem. If an ad is of questionable origin and effectiveness, we'll investigate and even focus test it to see if it sways opinion. We have a group of 3 independent commissioners who would then vote on how to proceed. They are:

  • Lawrence Lessig (Harvard, Creative Commons, MayDAY Pac)

  • Richard Painter (George W. Bush's ethics czar)

  • Buddy Roemer (former Governor of Louisiana, has been both a D and an R)

PmButtPics4ADrawing1 karma

Do you feel like Flash is dying?

jimgreer3 karma

Flash definitely has problems. In general I think browser-based games are doing just fine - Unity is an amazing tool, and WebGL looks very promising.

failedgamor1 karma

Are you Greg? If not :(

jimgreer2 karma

No, Greg was our first employee though.

Wakening1 karma

I just want to start off with a big thank you! I couldn't count the number of hours I spent playing random flash games over the years, and the best ones were always on Kongregate.

My question is, why did you start it? What's the origin story?

jimgreer1 karma

I had a tough experience running my own game studio, so wanted a site that would be more transparent about paying developers (and have great community features).