Two brothers who started a school program in China to help teach rural kids English have donated $20,000 to Shenmue 3's Kickstarter. Why? Because they hope that it will help gain them a bit of the public's eye and help grow their outreach program in China as they recruit more volunteer teachers to help educate kids in less fortunate areas of the country.
Over on the Shenmue Dojo website, one of the founders of the Volunteer English Teachers program, also shortened to V.E.T., posted up a message explaining that it was a difficult decision to invest the money into Shenmue 3, but they feel it could be something to really help get the word out about their school as opposed to some traditional methods of marketing. The post reads...
We spent $10,000 in 2012 to get our school off the ground and that went a long way. Because of our initial $10,000 pledge, the school received an amazing amount of attention in China, social media and gaming websites. I'll reiterate, We are not wealthy! This was a hard decision. We could have given $20,000 directly to building the school and it's programs but we feel that this pledge will lead to more exposure and support than what we could do through other mediums.
The V.E.T., school program targets the villages of Guilin and Yangshuo within the Guangxi Province. The program aims to help kids and adults learn basic English so that they'll have a basic understanding when it's time to head to another school within the more urban areas or they attempt to get jobs in the busy tourist sections.
While this donation may seem kind of out of the blue, it's not entirely from out of left field. Keep in mind that Shenmue is a game with a rich history of Chinese culture standing behind it. It may be a Japanese-made game starring a Japanese character, but the journey itself takes place within Hong Kong and the surrounding countryside.
Many aspects of the game are about the life and culture of the Chinese, and a foreigner (Ryo) learning to adapt to their way of life... all while attempting to seek revenge. A volunteer organization in China funding the production of a game that deals a lot with Chinese culture doesn't seem so far fetched.
According to the post on the Shenmue Dojo forum, they pledged enough to be able to have a character featured in Shenmue 3. The post states...
We decided to make the second $10,000 pledge a character in the game. We don't want to be a character attacking Ryo though. We are going to try and ask Yu Suzuki to let us have one of our Volunteer Chinese teaching assistants be a character in one of the villages. They deserve to be recognized for their hard work. They are volunteers and many of them come from poor rice farms.
I actually think this is a great idea and I hope Yu Suzuki is at least open to the idea. Having unique NPCs and characters in the game from different provinces and backgrounds could help add some extra flavor to the game.
While there is some controversy surrounding Sony's role in the funding of Shenmue 3, many die-hard fans are throwing money at the screen in any way that they can in an attempt to see the game finally get made.
As for V.E.T., if you're interested in their services and their mission goals you can learn more by visiting their official Facebook page.