Independent game developer company Double Fine recently rocked the gaming landscape by raising over $3.3 million for the production and distribution of a game that promises to return fans to the classic point-and-click adventure genre.
This effort was led by gaming legend Tim Schafer, who is known by fans for creating such classic games as Day of the Tentacle and Secret of Monkey Island. The campaign originally requested $400,000 but blew through that goal in under twelve hours. When all was said and done, this is the highest grossing Kickstarter campaign to date, not just in monetary value, but also in the number of backers. In fact, the campaign garnered so much attention that Schafer and Double Fine created a Ustream of the venture’s progress to keep the Kickstarter page from crashing as users refreshed toward the closing bell.
Why I’m Curious
This is at the intersection of two very interesting movements currently underway. One, this is perhaps the finest example of crowd-sourced funding the web has seen to date. However, it’s interesting to note that it’s not for philanthropy or politics or business. It’s for pure creativity. Which leads us to the second point of the intersection, which is that something is happening in the gaming community. Not so quietly, independent studios and even lone developers are creating games that are taking a completely different tack than your blockbuster, shoot ’em up, big budget releases. Similar to the movie industry, smaller, independent thinkers are pushing the boundaries of the genre and creating experiences that are unlike anything else.
The new documentary film, Us and the Game Industry, produced by New Zealand filmmaker Stephanie Beth, explores this movement toward a more reflective, creative and personal approach to gaming. Beth saw in the indie sector something very similar to the creative counter-culture in the 1960s. In her words:
“I wanted another big project for myself, I wanted to spend my sixties productively,” she tells me via a Skype connection from her home in Christchurch, New Zealand. “I wanted to make a film that touched some of the grand themes. I do think there’s a wonderfully rich and soulful layer to game production. I wanted to be part of telling that story with a documentary that has a life outside of the games industry hype. I could see that indie developers were slowing down to more reflective work in the face of this huge mainstream assault. I saw that as my point of entry.” via PSFK
Beth posits that games are much more than throwaway entertainment – they have the opportunity to be about personal journeys, creative or otherwise. The fact that Double Fine was so well supported by an early-adopting and arguably tech-savvy community on Kickstarter supports the notion that there’s a real desire for this next frontier in digital gaming experiences.