Over the weekend, best-selling scifi writer Neal Stephenson launched his own Kickstarter called CLANG. They say every great business idea solves a problem. In this case, it’s unrealistic swordplay in video games–an issue, we imagine, that’s close to the heart of a whole legion of LARPers.
The project, which is being run by Mr. Stephenson’s media franchise company Subutai, quickly raised $160,000 towards its goal of $500,000. The early hype comes courtesy Mr. Stephenson’s popularity (some of his early editions sell for “precious-metal asking prices“) and the project’s amusing video, featuring the writer in formal robes yelling at gamers for their unworthy consoles. There’s also a cameo from the meme-tastic Gabe Newell, the outspoken founder of the video game corporation Valve.But as AllThingsD notes, it’s a little premature to call the campaign viral. “It could reflect some skepticism that someone like Stephenson really needs donations from Kickstarter to fund his pet projects,” says ATD’s Liz Gannes, pointing out that Subutai’s existing investors include Jeff Bezos (through Bezos Expeditions), film producers Kennedy/Marshall Company, and Mr. Newell.
The Canyons, a Kickstarter campaign from Bret Easton Ellis and film icon Paul Schrader closed successfully last week, but also got a surprisingly modest response. Perhaps crowd-funding really is the new populism?
CLANG is not only raising money for an arena-style video game, but also an API and software kit to make video-game sword-fighting more realistic for other developers. So if the notion of “Guitar Hero with swords,” gets you hot under the armor, there are still 28 days to go.