Gaming for Charity
Video games are more than just an escape into a virtual world. Video games and video gamers can help others by raising money within the community in unique ways. The most common way is to donate via gaming-based charities. There are numerous video game charities out there that help raise money for children and others in need, but the three big platforms that immediately come to mind are Child’s Play Charity, Humble Bundle, and Extra Life.
Child’s Play Charity is one of the older gaming charities, with its inception being in 2003. Since then, they have raised just under $35.5 million dollars. With over 100 hospitals worldwide that benefit from Child’s Play Charity, all donations go towards buying games, toys, and books for children in hospitals. These games help children feel comfortable and keep their spirits up during their stay at these hospitals, as well as help them heal from their ailments. There are many ways that video games can help heal people and the people who have benefited from Child’s Play can attest to that, as well.
Humble Bundle has a bit of a different formula for raising money than Child’s Play. Every few days, Humble Bundle releases a new “bundle” of games or comics with a “pay-your-own-price” system. These games are related in some way – either the developer is the same for every game, or they all have to do with racing, and people can pay whatever they want (as long as it’s over $1) in order to receive all of the games in the bundle. The proceeds made by these purchases can go to any charity of choice: from the American Red Cross to Doctors Without Borders, or from the Prevent Cancer Foundation to your local animal shelter. To put how much money they have raised into perspective, their most recent bundle the Humble NEOGEO 25th Anniversary Bundle was just released under a week ago and is already approaching $300,000 with 12 days left. From the data available online, it seems that their most successful bundle was back in August of 2013, which, over the course of two weeks, raised over $10.5 million.
Extra Life was founded in 2008 as a charity with the goal of raising money for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals. In the U.S. and Canada, there are 170 of these hospitals that provide health care for children with varying injuries and diseases. According to their website, an average of one child a second enter the doors of one of their establishments for care. Charities like Extra Life help keep the CMN Hospitals running by raising money for research, equipment, and children who can’t afford treatment. Since its inception under a decade ago, Extra Life has raised $14 million for these CMN Hospitals. This charity raises money specifically with non-stop gaming marathons. Many popular YouTubers and Twitch Streamers host marathons through Extra Life and viewers can donate however much money they would like, which shows support to the marathoner as well as the children.
Over the course of the past few years, these marathons have become a commonplace in the gaming world. Every week, more and more new and unique marathons pop up that raise money for any one of these charities.
One of the most successful series’ of gaming fundraisers are the bi-annual Games Done Quick (GDQ) marathons. These marathons last a week long and feature video gamers who “speedrun”, or complete a game as fast as they can. At Summer Games Done Quick 2015, over the course of a week they completed about 160 games and raised $1,233,844.10 for Doctors Without Borders. This was their most successful event to date, surpassing the previous GDQ record by a few hundred thousand dollars.
There are some even more unique takes to these gaming marathons besides playing for days straight. One YouTuber named kurtjmac has made it a mission to walk to the “Far Lands” in Minecraft, which is an area of land so far away that the block formations become distorted (pictured below). In short, his YouTube series which started in 2011 called “Far Lands or Bust!” will have him virtually walking for the next few years, as he is only about a fifth of the way to his destination. During his episodes on YouTube, he takes questions from donators, and so far he has raised over $335,000 just by walking in a straight line!
There are many different ways that video games help people through donations. Charities geared towards gaming have raised millions of dollars to help with researching diseases, purchasing better equipment, and aiding people who can’t afford health care. The ways that these charities raise money might not be orthodox, but neither is gaming. Video games will always be an outlet for people to find unique ways to help others in need, whether it be through charity marathons, speedruns, or even walking to a fabled land in a virtual world.