I'm a big fan of Neal Stephenson's novels and though I'm not a gamer myself his aspiration to build a more realistic sword-fighting video game sounds pretty cool to me. What's more, since he's a smart guy and a good writer the video he made to seek funding for the project on Kickstarter is very cool:
That said, in many ways a well-off, very successful, and very well-known science fiction novelist raising $500,000 to build a video game engine seems very far from the high-flying promises of the crowdfunding world. After all, Stephenson could easily pay for this out of pocket or get a bank to loan him the money. He's the reverse of someone who needs access to the democratic power of social finance. And yet realistically, it's almost the ideal crowfunding pitch. Who better to raise funds on this basis than someone who's already famous? It just so happens that "famous" and "already has a lot of money" are often pretty closely correlated.