Island Bar Games Owner, Joe Sansone is ridiculously optimistic about the prospect of crowdfunded collaboration. His newest Kickstarter project, Humans of the Internet Age, is soliciting backer created media as a core gameplay mechanic. It’s a noble endeavor with the potential for disaster that only crowdfunding could support.

Using Unreal Engine 4, Sansone is seeking $65,000 in funding to create his narrative-driven puzzle game. Players will explore an enormous, interconnected museum while solving environmental puzzles to progress. The museum is the creation of the “Great Observer,” a being who has been studying humanity since the advent of the internet. Backers will be called upon to submit the thousands of “human artifacts” housed in the Observer’s collection, for players to interact with. What sort of artifacts end up in the game is completely reliant on its backers.

“Through Kickstarter, we can collaborate and create this environment together. What exactly will that environment look like when all is said and done? What tone will internet culture create through the halls of the game? I cannot wait for us to find out!”

The bar to entry seems pretty broad. Backers can submit nearly any form of graphic, written, audio, or video content. The accumulation of this media will reflect what the Observer’s intense study has discovered of humanity. A key element of the story.

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I’ve been critical in the past of developers relying too heavily on backers to create their projects. While Island Bar Games does have a much clearer vision than other projects I’ve seen, I’m still skeptical that this symbiotic relationship will result in a worthwhile game. Of course, it’s possibly I just have a far more pessimistic view of internet culture than Sansone.

Even so, the $65,000 funding goal is quite an ask for a project that feels a bit nebulous in its goals. I’d be curious how much the backer submissions will end up manipulating the overall plot of the game. Perhaps Humans of the Internet Age will be prove to be more of a mirror than a canvas for those who participate.

About the Author

Joanna Mueller

Joanna Mueller is a lifelong gamer who used to insist on having the Super Mario Bros manual read to her as a bedtime story. Now she's reading Fortnite books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games as Cliqist's EIC.

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