About eight years ago, a software engineer named Judy L. Tyrer raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter to develop a Jane Austen-themed massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMPORG) called Ever, Jane.
A beta version of the game, a project of Tyrer’s female-centric gaming company 3Turn Productions, was up and running by 2016, with plans to launch a final version in fall 2020. When I wrote about the Kickstarter appeal, I wondered how large was the overlap between Austen fans and video gamers. Alas, we now seem to have the answer: Not large enough.
Last month, the game folded. According to an announcement on Ever, Jane’s Facebook page, a four-month-old effort to raise money by selling monthly subscriptions failed to net enough to pay for the game’s servers. (All hope isn’t lost, however: The game is now for sale.)
As I’ve said before, I’m not a video gamer, but judging from Facebook comments, Ever, Jane had built a small but enthusiastic community of players who enjoyed its effort to transform the classic fantasy role-playing game into a riff on Austen’s novels. “Please know that we all loved your game and found each other through our equal enjoyment of it,” one fan wrote.
Ever, Jane was set in a virtual version of Austen’s country village, a place called – in a nod to the game’s creator – Tyrehampton. Avatars in Regency gowns moved through Austenesque scenarios – balls, visits, courtships – while weaponizing gossip, buying furniture for their virtual homes, and amassing points for qualities like kindness, duty, and happiness.
But as any reader of Jane Austen knows, virtue alone isn’t enough. You need cash, as well.