At the time of this writing, the IndieGoGo fundraiser for Joe McDaldno’s story game Monsterhearts has about 24 hours to go, and it’s raised over $10,000, in excess of its $2,500 goal.
This is exciting for a lot of reasons. For one thing, Joe’s a friend, so it’s great to see his project attract a lot of support do well. And for another, Monsterhearts is a great, exciting game. It’s about teenage monsters and their messy, sexy relationships, and it’s a strange mixture of camp, transgressiveness, parody and emotional honesty. Somehow the game simultaneously manages to celebrate, deconstruct and transcend its source material all at once. And it’s super fun to play.
The fundraiser is also exciting because Joe’s put a lot of passion, craft and ingenuity into his contributor rewards and milestones: handcrafted zines, mix CDs, postcards, stenciled folders, charity donations and new game material. It makes me want to back him at the highest level just to receive such wonderful gifts from his hand. And it speaks volumes of Joe’s love for personal expression and self-publishing.
Which leads me to the final reason this project thrills me. Here is a self-published roleplaying game that has made ten thousand dollars in less than a month. The new world of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo fundraising was already awe-inspiring, but lately it’s reached a level of success that I can only call revolutionary. The million-dollar-plus Order of the Stick Reprint fundraiser and the two-million-and-counting drive for Double Fine Adventure are the examples that are making the news, and yes, they are amazing. But here we have a designer whose past work, while great, has nowhere near the name recognition as Order of the Stick, Day of the Tentacle, or Grim Fandango. And he’s producing a work that he loves, and offering it to an extended but still pretty niche online community… and the return is ten grand. For, essentially, the pre-order.
That tells me something. It tells me that online self-publishing, while it’s been, for about a decade, a viable alternative to work-for-hire or a life savings sunk into a garage full of unsellable books… is only now coming into its own as a robust platform for individual creators to thrive doing what they love. It tells me that with compelling craft, clear vision and community support we can all put our works out into the world and see them find homes, and see ourselves find support both creative and material. It tells me we may even be able to make a living at it.
I couldn’t be happier for Joe. I could’t be happier for Monsterhearts. And I couldn’t be happier for the rest of us, either.