Newswise — Two University of Arkansas at Little Rock students are in awe over all the support shown for their dog rescue shelter simulation game, whose $16,000 fundraising campaign on Kickstarter was reached in just over 48 hours.

“We have been totally blown away by the amount of support that we’ve received for this project,” said Olivia Dunlap, one of the UA Little Rock graduate students who created “To The Rescue.” “Locally and around the world, people have flocked to us because they believe in what we are trying to do, and it’s an extraordinary feeling to see that reflected in our Kickstarter’s success. We are so thankful to everyone that has supported us so far, and are really excited to see how far we can reach with To The Rescue!”

Dunlap and her partner, Tanner Marshall, a fellow UA Little Rock graduate student, have been designing “To The Rescue” as a pet project for nearly three years. They launched their Kickstarter campaign on Aug. 6 to raise enough money to complete the development of the game. They reached their fundraising goal of $16,000 on Aug. 8. By Aug. 19, the campaign had raised more than $28,000 from more than 900 donors.

In “To The Rescue,” a player is the sole volunteer who is responsible for running the shelter, taking care of the dogs, and making sure they are adopted into their forever homes. The game was created with Joseph Williams, associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, who worked on sound design, and Byron Buslig, a UA Little Rock alumnus who served as the game’s artist.

Donors can give as little as $1 with various levels of donations. Those who pledge $15 will receive a copy of the game when it is released in 2020, while donations of $30 will receive the game, a sticker pack, and the opportunity to add a dog name to the game.

Those who pledge $50, $100, or even $500 can receive even more rewards, including an enamel pin; copy of a special magazine with behind-the-scenes information about the game and the shelters that inspired it; the ability to customize the traits, name, and appearance of a super dog or potential pet parent that will appear in the game; and an in-game donor plague.

“Even though we’ve met our goal, the fundraising campaign isn’t over,” Dunlap said. “It’s going to continue until Sept. 3 so that we can increase our budget to make an even bigger, better game. We have a ton of stretch goals planned for these other milestones, including things like more characters, more things to do with the dogs, and more platforms on which people can play the game.”

The campaign has already reached three stretch goals that include adding two new characters, a town map, and an outdoor play space to the shelter. Additional stretch goals include adding more characters, new dog breeds, and new animations to the game.

While the game designers are thrilled with the continuing success of the campaign, they hope the game will raise awareness about animal shelters and encourage more people to adopt pets from shelters.

“I feel like we’ve gotten extremely lucky with the amount of traction it’s received, but the concept of a dog shelter simulator – particularly one that is working to have a real-world impact – is really resonating with a lot of people,” Dunlap said.

“Upon release of the game, 20% of all profits will be donated to real animal shelters,” Marshall said. “It just wouldn’t feel right to make a game promoting the needs of shelters and not put a substantial amount of our profits towards the cause.”

The Kickstarter campaign ends 9:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3. If you would like to support “To The Rescue,” visit the campaign website.