When we last checked in to this “9 Year Old Building an RPG to Prove Her Brothers Wrong” story, the Kickstarter in question had only been going a few days, hit ~$22,000, and stirred up quite a bit of controversy on the actual motivations behind the fundraiser versus Kickstarter’s own guidelines. The thirty days have come and gone, and the fundraiser is now over. What were the results?

The ending results were $24,534 pledged by 1,442 backers. Between the first weekend of exponential growth and the remaining 20-25 days, only a couple of thousand dollars were pledged. Of course, after the initial weekend was when much of the controversy started (and continues), so the internet’s general questioning of the fundraiser seemed to have stymied much of the progress.

What’s in a name?

Within the last few days of the fundraiser, its name had changed away from the sibling rivalry aspect (“9 Year Old Building an RPG to Prove Her Brothers Wrong”) to “9 Year Old Builds Her First RPG… TRUTH & TROLLS!” The game, Truths & Trolls, will be about a 9 year old girl named Alex whose family is taken by a group of trolls. At least one of the trolls claims it is “in search of truth,” and none of the other grownups have enough courage to help her save her parents. As a result, Alex must take charge.

The story spins quite a yarn and is not unlike many RPG beginnings, but it is pretty easy to see that it plays on the events of the fundraiser itself, where “internet trolls” have had concerns regarding the parents of the fundraiser. Pretty clever for a 9 year old, if she was the one to pen it. Don’t take that as a menacing statement, it’s meant with sincerity.

Why was there a fundraiser at all?

One of the harder things to figure out when going back to this story is attempting to understand why it was put together in the first place. If you pledged on day 1, you would have been giving money to a campaign that said it was for a girl to go to game making camp with the result being that there would be a game made at the end of the week long camp. The goal for the fundraiser was $829, as well, or the exact amount of money for enrollment in the camp. It can be argued whether or not all of that violates the KS guidelines, but let’s just say it doesn’t (KS never took it down, so look for my “Adult wants to make video game, send him to college and he promises to make a game by the end” Kickstarter soon).

When going through some of the comments, this by the creator of the fundraiser popped up: “Does Kenzie need $829 to make her first RPG? No.” OK. So, why was this all created in the first place? Additionally, the original camp that the fundraiser was started to pay for is no longer going to be the one the girl will attend, according to the comments here. MIT apparently is offering the girl free tutoring for a week this summer, which is totally great for her but in effect changes the whole fundraiser. Is that something that’s OK for KS fundraisers?

It’s not about the girl

Regarding the controversy surrounding the story, one thing should be clear: it’s not about the girl. Hopefully she knows that if she happens upon comments or articles that question the validity of the fundraiser. However, it’s also clear that the creator of the fundraiser doesn’t really get that, unfortunately:

With over 1000 backers came a few concerned naysayers demanding answers to questions a 9 year old hadn’t anticipated answering for months. She knew she wanted to make a game but had no idea what it would be about.

She’d asked for $829 on a whim but with $20,000 in play, several anonymous netizens concerned a 9 year old would destroy Kickstarter for them, they demanded instant transparency. How frustrating it must have been seeing a 9 year old girl with zero experience and no idea what her RPG would be about be handed $20,000 within hours to do something they’d only dreamed of – and she’d done it with almost zero effort which made any misdirected resentment understandable.

Having read through many comments, no one is questioning the girl. As far as I can tell, everyone hopes for her success. The concerns always come back to this Kickstarter’s maker for putting together a shady fundraiser and the frustrations that KS let it go.

As an aside: Whether or not this means anything to you is up to you, but two older sites by the fundraiser’s author, FundHer.com and Money & Company, have both been taken down within the last month. They were definitely actual sites when this whole thing started, and they both dealt with crowdsourcing/funding. So that’s interesting.

Also, the $10,000 pledge tier (which was never claimed) that would have one of the sons personally call the backer to apologize for being mean had been taken down by the end. So at least some good has come of all this.

That’s all, folks

But what’s done is done. In the end, this is an interesting story in crowdfunding and Kickstarter in general (and if you want to read much better article than the one you just read about this whole thing, check out this GamingTrend piece). We will surely hear a bit more over the summer when the game is scheduled to be put together, but for now this is what we know.