What was the best game you ever played? The one that you really got wrapped up in? That one that gave you a pure, unadulterated shot of endorphins every time a beep was made? That beep that let your Skinner Box-trained mind know that you had done a good job? Because for me that game was called, “Kickstarter.”
People spend an inordinate amount of time in character creation in some games, and Kickstarter was no different for me. I tried my best to min-max every backer reward, every stat if you will, so that it would appeal to the most number of people while also bringing in the most revenue. Put too much money on a reward and no one will buy it, put too little and you won’t turn a profit (and then you won’t have any money to make your project).
And just as most people want their character’s faces to be just right, I wanted my Kickstarter to look good. I wanted the font to match the tone, the page to flow, the video to razzle and/or dazzle. Charisma isn’t a dump stat in this game.
It wasn’t actually a game, of course. There were real money and real stakes involved — quite high ones — but at times it hardly felt that way. I had set my Kickstarter App to buzz every time I got another pledge. I’d be sitting at my desk, working on a dull spreadsheet, and then I’d get a BUZZ. Looking at my phone, I saw real dollars, but it was also a score. The part of my brain that had been raised by Nintendo and LucasArts and Sid Meier saw the real-world figures and instantly translated them into, “You just earned 35 points. You stand at 10,000 points, brave adventurer. If you gain 2,500, you will unlock an extra cameraman.” It started to feel like I was playing a game every second of every day.
And it wasn’t just random chance either. No good games are solely in the hands of lady luck. Like a finely crafted piece of software, Kickstarter rewarded diligence, cunning and drive, and punished sloth and inept choices. When I went out of my way to find new venues of people who might be interested in my Kickstarter, I was repaid with a sharp uptick in points. When I just sat back and used the Tinkerbelle strategy of wishing for the best, the BUZZES just didn’t come in that fast.
And as the clock ticked by and the Kickstarter came to a close, I looked at the screen and saw that I had managed to get double my goal. I hadn’t just beaten Kickstarter, I had beaten it on expert mode. And the joy I felt from that was greater than the joy I have ever experienced in a video game. Ever.
Which makes sense when you think about it. A big reason people play video games is to simulate achievement. Lets be honest here, no one reading this will ever single-handedly win a war or go to Alpha Centauri or find the magical chalice of the Seven Kingdoms. But you can pretend that you do all those things and more. And if feels good to pretend. At times it can even feel great.
But the real thing. The real thing that games are simulating can be sublime in every last sense of that word. And there is no substitute for that.
The film is based on the most popular graphic novel about D&D ever produced. The plot is as follows:
Debbie and Marcie arrive at college unaware of the dangers of RPGing. They are soon indoctrinated into this dangerous lifestyle where they face the threat of learning real life magical powers, being invited to join a witches' coven, and resisting the lure of Ms. Frost, a vile temptress of a GM. But what peril must the two friends face when they stumble across the Necronomicon and their fantasy game becomes a reality game? Find out in Dark Dungeons!
We are making the world premier to a sold-out audience at Gen Con, but you can watch the first eight minutes at this link: http://youtu.be/LADLv1803Vw
Or you can and purchase the entire film for only $5 at www.darkdungeonsthemovie.com if you want.