“In South Arkansas there’s talk of a monster. Where he roams, the locust thorns build barbed walls around the riverbank, not far from your house. Your real home isn’t made of stock millwork, but telephone lines: an online forum for undiscovered creatures where everyone knows you as cripplefoot. You debate the existence of the strange as your friends leave for distant universities. Outside your childhood bedroom, the cypress trees stretch for miles.
In South Arkansas there’s talk of a monster. They say he always follows the creeks.”
This poetic introduction places us firmly in the world of Southern Monsters, a unique work of interactive fiction set in South Arkansas. In the game, set across five days in 2005, we become cripplefoot, a traumatized teen too young to make sense of his emotions. The Fouke Monster, a Bigfoot variation out of a small town near Texarkana, made famous by the 1972 cult film The Legend of Boggy Creek, lurks outside. To complete the game, players will need to strike a balance between research about the creature and cripplefoot’s well-being before the sun sets.
The support campaign has been live on Kickstarter for several weeks. The project made its first goal of $8,000 and, with more backing, can achieve additional goals . As of Monday, February 20, the game has raised close to $10,000 with 385 backers and four days to go. The Kickstarter ends this Friday, on February 24.
The core team behind Southern Monsters are Kevin and Priscilla Snow, and a friend they have only met through the internet, Patrick Bonaduce. In crafting the narrative, Kevin drew on his own experiences.
“Southern Monsters is deeply personal. It’s a dark comedy based on my experiences with online communities, domestic abuse, and being disabled in the weird, weird South. It’s also imbued with my love of horror movies like Videodrome, Suspiria, and Eraserhead,” Kevin said.
Kevin’s story comes alive through Patrick’s illustrations. For someone who has never been to Southern Arkansas, the artist picked up on the ephemera of daily life through pictures Kevin and Priscilla sent. Priscilla rounds out this experience, composing an atmosphere soundtrack with a myriad of instruments including electronic loops, a guitar, and, at times, a theremin–an instrument that creates eerie sounds through electromagnetic waves without being directly touched.
What captivates me–someone who does not play video games–is the constant attention to details like Priscilla’s and Kevin’s cat Grendel on the bed, a stuffed goose head hung on the wall, the praying hands print ubiquitous to grandmothers’ houses, and nods to pork rinds, moonpies, and other southern specialities. It’s the many, many hours Kevin spent researching the Boggy Creek monster. The multiple drives down to talk to aging cryptozoologists who still document “evidence” of the creature. It’s the love gone into the writing, the historical and cultural respect, the personal struggles, and the tone of slow-burning horror movies that build up feelings of unease. The culmination of all of these components make me excited and proud that this project is happening in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Because of the care gone into Southern Monsters, it places you firmly in the world both real and imagined–a world all its own for us to be apart of.
The team was thrilled to be funded within one week of starting the Kickstarter campaign, but be sure to check out the website where you can look at additional goals they can obtain with more support. They have primarily paid for the development of the game through their day jobs. The initial goal went toward paying the artist for his contributions and sound equipment for the soundtrack. For $12,000 they can begin to develop the mobile version of the game. The rewards are also something to pay attention to: backing Souther Monsters starts at $1. Each reward group has names related to southern food like “Peanuts and Coke Chugger” and “Fried Green Tomato Adherent”. The rewards are a variety of pins, stickers, archival prints, and even a novella described as“an action-packed Bigfoot romance”.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the Kickstarter — we didn’t expect to reach our goal so quickly (within a week), and so many strangers have reached out to say they’re excited about the game for a variety of reasons: its southern setting, cryptids, disabled main character, general weirdness,” Kevin said.
To check out their game and support the general weirdness of Arkansas and the specific weirdness of this creative project, go to the Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/547126543/southern-monsters