Mark Kearns, 38, a web designer and gamer from Chicago, stumbled upon a new video game called Star Citizen while online in late 2013. The game, which was in development, promised to revive the spaceflight simulation genre with a sprawling universe for players to explore.

Intrigued, Mr. Kearns decided to pledge money to see the game come to fruition. In total, he donated $175, which gained him access to Star Citizen’s alpha version — a playable version of the game in its early stages — plus a virtual ship to use in the game.

Mr. Kearns and others have now vaulted Star Citizen into the record books. Since 2013, the game has quietly amassed more than $148 million in funding — all from regular people who have donated either through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter or through the game’s online donations page. The amount is a record for a crowdfunded video game, and one of the largest for any crowdfunded project. Star Citizen’s developer, Cloud Imperium Games, has not taken any money from traditional financiers.

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