I periodically will stumble across items that make me do a “double take,” meaning I check it and then I check it once more for good measure, because the thing I saw is hopefully not the thing I think I just saw. Sadly, sometimes it is. This is the case for a recent Kickstarter project where a seemingly supportive mother wants to help her daughter in a charming sibling rivalry against her older brothers. The mean duo of males has ridiculed the girl, stating that her gender is incapable of producing good games. Still, at just 9 years of age, the girl isn’t fazed and with help from mommy dearest, Kickstarter can come to her rescue and send her to RPG Camp, whatever that is, if they can muster the $829.
It’s a noble goal and one we all took to heart, because of the low funds, the charming story and the struggle against adversity that puts us all on the cheering squad for the underdog. That all seems fine; except for a few dodgy tactics of manipulation. However, some of the goals had me taken aback. Now, far be it for me to ask why a sub-$1000 project would need high stakes donations; crazier things have happened. Instead, a first thought occurred that some goals seemed rather unrealistic to a child, even as a goal. For instance, how can you deny or ask someone to alter their vision by creating specific, custom NPCs based on backers that have paid the amount? In a regular setting, sure, but this is a 9 year old we’re asking to play house exactly like we want to. How many times has that ended well in the chronicles of all house playing ever?
Yet, by far the one that took me for that double take was the final tier, the $10,000 powerhouse donation. First off, the amount itself is more than 10 times the funds needed for the project in its entirety. It’s a bit much. Still, that’s not the thing that made it seem odd. Again: Kickstarter can be strange sometimes. No, it’s the fact that one of those prizes states that her brothers will personally apologize to you, the backer, for something you have no involvement in. Rather than just being plain weird, it’s the fact that morality is paired with currency that sickened me. I use a strong term, but it has made a tangible knot in my insides when I read it for what it really was: The literal concept of evil washed away with cash, which is in itself a redundancy of any remorse. The act is solely done to spite and the regret is only achieved when enough funds are acquired.
This was a major turning point in the ancient world with the Church and its concept of “indulgences.” In fact, it’s how the Church got to be the powerful, currency-backed institution it is today and why several branches started detaching from the known concept. Anyone who had sinned could “buy” their way back into the gates of heaven. It was indeed so popular that the Church began breaking down indulgences in fraction, so that poorer people could repay their since in payment plans. It was so ingenious that fractions would never complete, as you’d buy 1/8 of an indulgence, which would then break off in another, smaller fraction and so on. To end this brief history lesson, it was a major catalyst for historic figure Martin Luther to denounce the Church for its greed and notify it of its sober and humble roots. If you follow organized religion today, the new Pope, Francis, has uttered a similar desire.
What I don’t mention in that history lesson is the revolutionary movements, bloodshed and atrocities that this mentality has brought forth. This is the mentality in that Kickstarter that upset me: the loss of all morality for financial gain, through any means necessary. While the Kickstarter has long since reached its initial mark, I can only hope that it gets shut down for this deplorable action and the many others inside, which will fill the internet shortly.
There are tons of amazing Kickstarter game projects you can back. Developer Craig Stern has come back with Telepath Tactics for the second time and succeeded, but this strategy title can still use your help. More importantly, the glorious open world game Planet Explorers is still seeking funds for its sandbox RPG. You can support it here.