At the ripe old age of nine most girls are crushing on Justin Bieber or trying to understand the complexities of getting dressed in the morning. Some are obsessed with their mother’s clothes and others just want to stay up past 8 PM.
However, at nine, Mackenzie Wilson just wants two things: her teenage brothers to stop making fun of her and to create her own RPG game. That second objective is going quite well as she just successfully concluded the Kickstarter campaign for her RPG, raising $24,534 pledged by 1,442 backers.
Mackenzie’s passion for video games started at a very young age…yes nine is already a young age. It also led to Mackenzie having her great idea: Video games today are too violent and don’t fit her personality.
Why not create a game with characters full of personality, depth and just enough quirks to be both entertaining, intriguing and potentially annoying along with an engaging story line filled with challenging adventures and interesting experiences that allow you to explore the legends and mysteries of a mystical land.
She couldn’t wait to dazzle her brothers with her amazing idea.
However, instead of Mackenzie getting the support she thought she would receive from her brothers, they just continued to doubt her gaming abilities and thought nothing of her dream. That’s when Mackenzie’s mother Susan Wilson saw a unique teaching lesson. Why not create a Kickstater campaign in order to raise the $829 needed to go to STEM (short for science technology, engineering and math) camp and create her own game
With its timely message about empowering young girls to participate in the long male-dominated STEM fields, little Mackenzie’s video quickly gained momentum with Kickstarter backers. The media liked the feel-good story as well, with DailyDot, CNET and multiple other news outlets featuring the girl’s campaign. To her surprise in four days $20,000 was raised. Yesterday the Kickstarter campaign ended raising a total of $24,534.
Mackenzie was overjoyed. Her mother was proud. Her brothers were silenced.
But with great money comes great responsibilities and with great responsibilities comes great public backlash. While many people obviously supported the young female for boldly venturing into the video gaming industry and being the youngest Kickstarter in history, some felt the mother was exploiting the girl’s talent and the public’s money.
It all started on the infamous Reddit site, when Reddit member Bo-jangles discovered Susan Wilson was a graduate of Harvard Business School and was previously named one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, noting that she’d co-founded a company acquired by Kinko’s for $100 million.
She also accused Wilson of being a “cybersquatter” and listed the ways in which she violated Kickstarters Terms and Conditions. What made it worse was when Susan tweeted celebrities like Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres about her daughter’s campaign. Bo-jangles pointed out Kickstarter bars spamming people through Twitter and some users started to feel they’d been had.
“Did I expect this? No. This was an $800 campaign that started to resonate,” Wilson told The Huffington Post. “There was no grand plan. There was no grand scheme.”
Sadly and most shockingly, in a few days after the Reddit post, more accusations of a scam and several death threats were received.
Justin Kazmark in the communications department of Kickstarter responded to the backlash:
“Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. The goal of this project is to create a video game, which backers are offered for a $10 pledge. On Kickstarter backers ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.”
While Susan acknowledges she can afford to send her child to camp without the aid of Kickstarter, the point of the project was never to raise $20,000. It was to work through a situation at home with the hope that it could serve as an inspiration to her daughter.
“I want to make it clear, I’m not a millionaire,” Wilson told Huffington Post. “I’m an entrepreneur and like most entrepreneurs, I put my own money into my ventures. I’m not rolling in dough … Can I afford to send my daughter to an $800 camp? Yes, but this was started because my daughter was fighting with her brothers.”
As to whether any aspect of the project was a scam, Wilson argued it was clear from the materials on the page that the money raised would fund Mackenzie going to a STEM camp to learn to make and eventually produce the game.
“They say I’m scamming and manipulating. This is a campaign for $800. The crowd spoke up and I got attacked because $20,000 got raised. That wasn’t me, I didn’t do that. The crowd did.”
As for Mackenzie, despite all the hoopla, she’s just thrilled her passion and dream is now a reality.
Working closely with her family…including her brothers, Mackenzie is determined to make each and every backer proud; learning RPG Maker, developing the characters, the story and the plot line, along with with landscape, scenes, adventures, enemies and of course, the weapons. Most importantly, the little RPG that could finally has a name – Truth & Trolls. In addition, TruthAndTrolls.com was purchased and the games trademark application was electronically filed.
Wondering what’s going to happen with all the extra thousands of dollars raise? It was brought to the Wilson’s attention, there was a growing need for a safe place for kids to learn, share, create, play and test one another’s games, so PinkieSquare.com: Indie Gaming. For Kids. By Kids was created.
To learn more about Truth & Trolls and to follow the game’s progression please visit Mackenzie’s Kickstarter page