“The Scam” — Or How I Became A Programmer Fo Realz

So let’s talk about the idea that I’m a “known scam artist”.

I’m a mathematician, so I insist on defining my terms before I begin.

Merriam-Webster defines a scam as such: a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people and a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation. As such, the term “scam artist” will be defined as one who uses such methods to gain said money.

Note that the key to both of these things are dishonesty and deception.

The reason I made this post is kind of in light of the post by Brian Steele, wherein people use the Big Lie tactic to violate this man. If you spread a lie enough, it becomes true regardless of truthiness.

That is exactly what has happened here.

Once upon a time, the newly minted anti-SJ crew, made of multiple white supremacists who had been stalking me for around 6 months at that time, decided that as long as about they could get about 10 people to say something over and over, they could get it to spread about those evil SJWs they hate so very, very much.

I was a primo target, who was working on the Arkh Project at the time.

Fundraising on Indiegogo had been suggested to me, but I wasn’t sure if there was even enough interest to raise the amount of money a game of that level would require, which I estimated as deep into 6 figures.

The goal was to make a game similar in quality to Kingdom Hearts 1. A lofty goal, to be sure, but I thought that if I moved in small enough parts at a time, work would slowly get done.

But this fundraiser was not for the entire game. It was for character concept art. When you checked the price underneath the amount donated, it said in nice big letters: “FOR CHARACTER CONCEPT ART”. I wanted to raise the tiniest portion of what I knew would be necessary to see if there was enough interest around something like this to bother continuing.

Where some may have gotten confused is that I put in an estimated breakdown of all of the concept art I believed would be necessary. Where others may have been confused, is where I put, in bold no less, the full and true price of such a venture.

I’m not really sure, actually, where people became confused.

What confuses me is that people truly believed that I was going to single-handedly rebuild Kingdom Hearts 1 with brown people…for $3900. Which is all I’d asked for. I itemized exactly where it would go, because I wanted people to understand exactly what the scale was here. (Huge, that is.)

I even got the most ridiculous email from Patricia Hernandez at Kotaku, demanding to know “where the game was” and “why it was taking so long”. Just saying, but if your job is as a journalist, you might want to read up on something before you ask something as ridiculous as “why haven’t you made Kingdom Hearts for under 10,000 dollars yet?”

Mind you, at the time, I didn’t have much attention to pay to the “scam” accusations. Why? Because at the same time, a certain ethics in BlahBlahBlah crew was sending me death and rape threats. Those were more common than calls of scam, actually…much more common. And thus a wee bit more pressing.

I just kept my head down and put out every piece of character concept art commissioned, plus environment art and a full 3D model (which I was absolutely not required to put out at all because I hadn’t promised one), since I’d gotten more than expected. Every new piece had a complaint.

“Oh god, this is so ugly, it must be a scam.”

“Oh look, it’s been traced! Scam!” (Comparing it to a picture found on google that had been altered to try to declare it a trace.)

“THAT DRESS IS STOLEN! SCAM!” (Because the artist used a Zuhair Murad design in an image, which is something commonly done by comic artists as huge as Naoko Takeuchi…)


In other words, everything that went out was just proof that nothing was going out and it was all a scam.

Then came the claims that I was secretly a professional artist and actually just paying myself. This is what made it clear to me that the claims of scam only had one purpose: to make sure that I and other people like myself got nothing because we’re filthy and deserve nothing.

Even if I were to be a secret, undercover professional artist who could have done that work, I would have deserved to get paid.

This is the artistic level I’m talking about, by the way.

If I could do this, I’d never spend a single penny for art ever. But oh no, such ugly!

Oh, but no, I’m a secret professional who can do things like this and therefore I’m paying myself, and as such, it’s a scam.


Another major reason to claim it was a scam involved an aforementioned post by a supposed “professional game developer at a game company”. Long story short, said “professional” claimed that video games start with programming. Anyone…anyone who knows better knows that isn’t true, but another person who knows nothing about video games or programming, artist Yamino, decided to pick up on that and make it the absolute fact of the situation, because fact checking before opening a QTPOC to more violent threats is merely too hard for precious white girls to bother with.

The uninformed were simply guiding the uninformed, and nobody bothered to even look at what was in front of them.

Now, I was certainly no programmer at the time, not really. I had only dabbled in code before. I also never had any intention of doing the code. I only meant to helm the art direction/story/writing. I made that pretty clear over multiple posts.

But nope, now it’s a scam because Riley can’t program, and all real video games start with programming. Like, when Squeenix wants to make a new game, all the programmers just open their consoles and start crackalackin’. That’s how real people do it. Therefore, working on the game design and art direction first is merely for scammers.

Even though the money was never supposed to go to programming, but to CHARACTER CONCEPT ART…thus, that is what I produced. Along with an itemized list of such.

The final nail was a mistake of my own, not realizing that an animation I’d received (which looped on my computer, because the program instantly loops, thus giving the look of the main character running smoothly), did not loop on Tumblr, giving it the appearance of being a “one second animation”.

Remember when I said that I was raising money only for character concept art? And thus was not required to provide a 3D model ever? And thus was not required to include animation ever?

Ignore all of that, because this is clearly a scam simply because people don’t like it.

But you know, if you look carefully, you’ll notice less prime targets (less Black, less queer, less autistic) who have also had their work called scams. MedievalPoC and Anita Sarkeesian are two really big ones, who despite putting out work, get called scammers every other day, for reasons like “they put out their opinions as facts”. So it shouldn’t surprise you the number of ignorant folk who insist on calling the fundraiser for Arkh a scam because “I can’t program and I only spent money on what I said I would, art”.

After a while, I simply couldn’t tolerate the threats and the crap anymore. So I finished off what I was supposed to do, and left it all in a corner. I will be going back, primarily because that story is a brain child of mine that I will not ever abandon. But I won’t return to it right now. I agreed with one true piece of critique at least: I should learn much more about programming before considering a game. (Mind you, this is not necessary at all. Plenty of people are pure art or pure writers or pure musicians and they are professional game developers. It’s not even rare. It’s more rare to have someone who can do it all.)

It was that fall that I returned to school, Fall 2012. I’m graduating with a degree in Computer Science and Math in May. I have a job as a Software Engineer waiting. I’m programming my new game with a heightened sense of intuition that made the engine largely a piece of cake to learn, though I am still trying to get used to its scripting language and the full scale of its capabilities. I’ve sworn off 3D for now, because I just don’t think I’m ready yet. I’m easily able to make that judgement that I’m not ready for 3D yet. (Truthfully, I probably am, but have some deep seated fear of it. Or perhaps it’s that I have some small capability to do 2D art, so I can edit things freely for 2D projects, giving me more control over the look. Who knows.)

So in some way, I have this large group of incredibly unreasonable people to thank for my current successes*. I have them to thank for me returning to school to pick up the skills that I needed to make me a real game development contender**. I have them to thank for the ability to find my partner and work on things behind the scenes***. The first month of programming was spent developing out a more complete engine. I learned new programming paradigms specific to games in minutes. I’m even helping other new game devs without programming backgrounds with their programming questions here and there on forums. It’s pretty damn cool out here. I made all sorts of new friends, who have things going for them in real life. I have things going for ME in real life.

And all because of a scammy little not-scam.

But, I refuse to keep tolerating this entirely false claim. It wasn’t a scam. It was never a scam. I did exactly what I said I was going to do…whether you liked it or not. Things you don’t like aren’t scams. Things you don’t think were worth it aren’t scams. A scam is purposely deceiving people to make money. A scam is a fake operation. I made no money. The results of the operation are visible on the project’s blog. (Even if you don’t like them and don’t think they were worth it!) And I think the most important thing here?

Failed projects aren’t scams. They are simply failed projects. There’s a nasty habit of calling indie games that crowdfund and fail scams, while professional companies who crowdfund and fail are “poor babies who could not realize the dream”. Stop shitting on indies. They’re indie for a reason. Projects fail. Projects fall short. IT DOESN’T MAKE THEM SCAMS.

The only real scam here is that some people, adults, to this day, truly believe that $3900 is enough to make a game like Kingdom Hearts 1. I’d really love to hear from Squeenix on this, though I suspect it will be raucous laughter.

The last thing I’ll say is that YouCaring asked me both about this project, and Arkh. After showing them the proof for both, they have determined that neither was a scam. Anyone who takes the time to actually look and read instead of reacting to their violent hatred of someone who doesn’t even know they exist (and who frankly doesn’t care) will find the same.

Either way, this is the first and last post I will write detailing all of this, because I have work to do, and this is putting it on hold.

To the haters: I know I’m too Black, autistic, queer and unapologetically so for you. Your feelings on me are perfectly fine; I don’t care. Just stop contacting me. YouCaring shut down my comments for my benefit because you were being so ridiculously gross in them. Stop contacting me. Things aren’t getting shut down because the truth is on my side. Get over it and me.

To my friends and supporters: Love you guys. ❤

*I’m joking so hard, please don’t take this seriously, I have me and my tenacity to thank only.

**Also joking, seriously don’t buy this. I did the work for my successes myself.

***Same as the other two!

Dougla. They/them. Pro software engineer and game developer. Creator of #TransLawHelp. @GayKidKeyblader on Twitter. Pay me: http://cash.me/$rileyatdtwps

Dougla. They/them. Pro software engineer and game developer. Creator of #TransLawHelp. @GayKidKeyblader on Twitter. Pay me: http://cash.me/$rileyatdtwps