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Female Indie Dev Faced Cyberbullying for Having an $800 Crowdfunding Tier

By Weilin Li
Dec. 5, 2022 updated 04:45

When the reporter made contact with Maimai, the creator of the visual novel Dullpain, she seemed to have already recovered from the shock of being harassed and doxxed online. The unfortunate event happened for a very odd reason: her game has a 5,888 CNY (~825 USD) crowdfunding supporter tier.

Early this month, Maimai launched a crowdfunding campaign for her new game  Dullpain which tells the story of a repair shop shopkeeper traveling through time and space with other people's memories. It's her third game and most devoted work yet.

In less than 3 hours, the project reached the lowest crowdfunding goal - 10,000 CNY. Maimai felt excited and couldn't sleep, thinking of what the future might hold.

Image of Dullpain's crowdfunding pageImage of Dullpain's crowdfunding page

But as she woke up the next afternoon, she realized her game had been bombarded on social media by negative comments. Many people harshly criticized the 5888 CNY price tier and the "Otome game style".

Images of Dullpain's crowdfunding posterImages of Dullpain's crowdfunding poster

It took Maimai some digging to figure out what happened. As is typical for crowdfunding indie games, her game has multiple supporter tiers, starting from 40 CNY (~$7) for the base game to more expensive options that include limited collector merchandise. The highest tier is 5,888 CNY (~825 USD), limited to one person, and gives that dedicated supporter a customized key character with side quests, among other benefits. This is all very common in the crowdfunding scene.

However, some influencers, whether deliberately or not, misinterpreted her crowdfunding campaign and the supporter rankings as a "delusional female indie developer trying to sell her game at a ridiculous price." The clickbait claim gained attraction very quickly and caused an angry mob to flood her social media.

A player doubting the 5888 CNY price in Dullpain's crowdfunding planA player doubting the 5888 CNY price in Dullpain's crowdfunding plan

Maimai had to defend herself against some very inaccurate accusations, explaining that the 5,888 CNY tier is not the game's intended price.

What made Maimai even more confused was that many people criticized the game for being similar to Otome games and saw it as her gimmick to seek huge profits, but these people were not interested at all in learning about her well-designed plot and gameplay.

Eventually, she was overwhelmed and ended up escaping from the large-scale online harassment by deleting her gaming community app and turning off her phone.

Game graphics of DullpainGame graphics of Dullpain

Thankfully, Maimai was not beaten down by the ridiculous disaster. She had some self-doubt but soon realized there was no point arguing with people that prey on her pain.

She changed her QQ signature to "(Don't Fear) the Reaper", the hidden ending title of Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 was the game that gave Maimai the motivation to make a game herself, to create a world that she wanted to see. She told YYS that she "hopes to create a game that both male and female players can play without restrictions." Instead of being influenced by the negative reaction, Maimai wants to prove herself with the quality of her future work.

In her words, there may be excellent action games made by female producers in the future, and male devs can also write melodious and delicate scripts. After the sexist harassment and bad-faith attacks on her intentions, she hopes the gaming community can leave this behind while she works on a game that goes beyond their expectations of her.

Source: YYS