A Kickstart To The Heart

A Kickstart To The Heart


February is a month for love and this year it has been a month of showing how much people love video games.

Moving on from funding games, and onto a different type of donation. February continued and over the weekend starting on the 17th, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and the folks at Mojang took part in the Humble Bundle Mojam. The Mojang development team had 60 hours to create a game from scratch and there was a camera capturing every moment live. People could watch the “action” unfold on Twitch TV and were encouraged to donate money in the same way as usual for a Humble collection. This money wouldn’t go to the developers however, as the money could be split as you choose between four charities: Child’s Play, American Red Cross, Electronic Frontier Foundation and charity: water.

Once again, the gaming public showed off their generosity, with 81,580 people donating a total of $458,314.98 over the course of the game jam. Your donation got you Fists of Resistance, a game from Oxeye Game Studio, The Broadside Express from Wolfire Games and the main product Catacomb Snatch, the game from Mojang. Before starting the jam, there was a public poll to decide what type of game it would be and where it would be set. Hilariously, the game ended up being an RTS shoot ‘em up set in Steampunk ancient Egypt. The aim of the game is to shoot enemies and their spawners to accumulate coins to buy turrets, rail tracks and bots to help you collect the victory resource. You can play on your own, or against another player where you must race to the centre of the map to acquire the precious resource.

Again, it could be largely based on reputation as to why this project was so successful. There are over 5 million people who have bought Minecraft, Mojang’s first person, block based sandbox game, of which the only criticism is that the game is too damned addictive. Notch himself is well loved within the video game industry for his good community interaction and good sense of humour, notably in August 2011 when he challenged Bethesda to a Quake 3 tournament to settle a naming dispute over Mojang’s new game, Scrolls.

So what does it take for people to put their faith in you and simply give you money to make games? Apparently, spending years of your life slaving away behind a computer screen until you eventually develop something that other people love...easy, right? But maybe it’s more than that? Huge companies like EA spend large amounts of time developing undeniably high quality games, and yet it is still the target of hate from pockets of people saying that its games aren’t long enough, or they’re too expensive, or that they’re not innovative enough. Even the once untouchable Bioware isn’t safe these days, receiving inexplicable amounts of complaints over design decisions for Mass Effect 3, a game which isn’t even out yet!

Perhaps it’s the individual that makes the company. Do these bigger companies need a Tim Schafer or Notch of their own to be the connection between them and the masses, and to bring a bit of humanity to their projects? Or do people simply like the underdog? The little guy who puts his blood, sweat and tears into their work just to try and keep up with ‘the man’.

Either way, it’s exciting to see that there are plenty of people willing to donate money to the causes of gaming and charity. It’s good to see that the smaller developers are being rewarded for their dedication and high quality products. I don’t think that these recent developments will start off a new trend of game funding or charity donations, but it certainly opens the door for interesting projects in the future.