Like a lot of other middle-aged gamers, I have fond memories of playing the point-and-click adventures that were popular throughout much of the 1990s. Titles like Day of the Tentacle, Gabriel Knight, and Monkey Island told great stories while presenting players wwith puzzles whose solutions ranged from the comical to the obscure. These games eventually fell out of favor as first-person shooters and other more technically sophisticated genres became increasingly popular. A few developers continue to make such adventures, but on shoestring budgets and most simply aren’t very good.
Recently, a team of respected game developers known as Double Fine set up a Kickstarter page to raise donations for a new adventure game project. They raised $400,000 in eight hours and are well are on their way to raising over $2 million in total. Such a phenomenal success with crowd-sourced fundraising could point to a future where traditional publishers are less important and more games are financed by the people who want to play them. There will always be a market for the lavishly produced games by big studios, but the Kickstarter model could work for games that appeal to a passionate niche audience. It could also work for writers and musicians who may not have sufficiently broad appeal to attract the interest of a traditional publisher. The trick is going to be for unknown artists to convince others to give them money to develop something that may or may not be worth one’s time.