Life is hard, it’s the hardest game we will ever play. Lately, it seems like we are bombarded with nothing but horrible things in the news and the world around us. War, abuse, harassment, violence…all these things assault our senses daily in one way or another. It wears us down, it drains us, it makes us angry. It makes us lose hope in humanity. Then we get home and we can escape for just a few blissful hours. People can think we are wasting our time all they like, it never bothered me. I could escape and be anyone, could do anything. I could forget about my insecurities for a while. I could learn, become better at something, or I could create things, anything my mind desired. Video games are magic. They saved my life, and I’m sure they’ve had a hand in saving many others as well. They gave me a place to escape to…a safe haven.
But the news rarely talks about the good things related to games. They just want to talk about how violent they make us. And even the gaming community itself has been slowly eating away at itself, forgetting the one thing we all have in common, the one thing we all love. Video games. It’s time to regain that focus by doing something good. Lets show the world the power that we have as gamers. Lets move past whatever has us riled up lately and try to start over. Take a chance, hug your fellow gamer. Appreciate that hidden language of secret jokes that only we get. Lets come together as a unified group, and lets make a change. Lets make this the best year for gaming related charities that the world has ever seen. Lets make our voices heard. We are good people. We are smart people. We are charitable people.
I know some of you are immediately thinking, “It would be a nice thing to do, but I just can’t right now. I had to forego lunch and sell some things just to scrape enough together to get Destiny (or insert your game of choice here).” I hear you. We’ve all been there, some of us are consistently there. But giving back isn’t always about donating money. Many charities out there will happily take your older working systems and games out there that you no longer need. Or just donate a little of your time by putting together a fundraising gaming event where all the proceeds get donated to a charity of your choice. There are many ways to give back, so lets make it an effort of good will towards each other and lets help those who are less fortunate than all of us.
Here is a list of charities I’ve taken the time to track down. While I’m sure this certainly isn’t all of them, these are the one’s I could easily find. Please look through them and if there’s anything that touches you, jump on it, and spread the word!
Extra Life – 24 hour gaming marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals – This charity began in 2008 in honor of a little girl named Victoria Enmon, who battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This brave little girl spent a lot of time in the hospital during her three bouts with the deadly disease. Gamers from the Sarcastic Gamer Community were so inspired by her story that they began to send in games and gifts to help keep her entertained and lift her spirits while she fought for her life. Sadly she succumbed to her disease in January 2008, and the creator of Extra Life got together with the Sarcastic Gamer Community to raise money in a 24 hour marathon. In 2008 and 2009, the charity raised a combined total of $302,000, 100% of which went to Tori’s local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital (Texas Children’s Hospital). Now it has become a yearly event to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and starting this year, all the money each participant raises will go directly to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of your choice!
Child’s Play – Donate toys and games to hospitals to improve the lives of hospitalized children around the world – You can help out Child’s Play two separate ways. The first is by looking up a hospital on their map, and finding out the wishlists they’ve compiled, then you can send those gifts directly to that hospital. If you’d prefer to send a cash donation, that is accepted also. That money is then used to basically purchase new consoles, games, peripherals, toys and more for hospitals and therapy facilities, all of which can help provide a distraction from an otherwise overall unpleasant experience.
Humble Bundle – Pay what you want for a collection of digital creations and help out charities – Humble Bundle offers digital goods (Games, music, ebooks, mobile games) in groups (Bundles) that you can pay whatever you like to purchase them. The money is split between the developers/creators of the products, and different charities that generally change with the bundle change, including but not limited to, Child’s Play, charity:water, and the American Red Cross. Offering to pay more can often unlock additional goods that get included with your bundle. As of August 2013, the bundles have collectively brought in over $50 million with over $20 million of that going to charity.
Games Done Quick – Speedrunning game marathons to raise money for varying charities – Games Done Quick has worked with several charities during its existence, including Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. These events are streamed on the Games Done Quick website as well as on Twitch.tv, and you can expect over 150 hours of live, nonstop high level play by speedrunners. All donations are sent directly to the charity being supported by each event.
AbleGamers Foundation – Helps bring games to those who are disabled or have special needs – The AbleGamers Foundation seeks to utilize video games as a way to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities. They use a three step approach to increase accessibility to those with disabilities or who need special considerations: Outreach, Consulting and Grants. “I believe that there is nothing more powerful for people with disabilities than the freedom that only video games can provide. It is an art form that allows us to all run, jump, and be whatever we want to be.” ~Mark Barlet, Founder
Gamers Outreach – Helping others Level Up – This charity focuses on three unique initiatives. The first is Project GO Kart, which uses donations to fund the construction of portable gaming kiosks for hospitals. These GO (Gamers Outreach) Karts make it so that hospital staff members can easily maneuver gaming devices and other entertainment directly to patients rooms, who otherwise have a limited access to activities outside of their rooms. The second initiative is Fun For Our Troops. Gamers Outreach Foundation puts together video game related care packages and sends them to our troops serving overseas, in hopes of providing them stress relief, relaxation, a boost to morale, and enhancing their overall well being. The final initiative is called Gaming4Others, and they do fundraising video game related events, where all funds are then donated to predetermined charities for each event.
Call of Duty Endowment – Raising awareness of the challenges faced by veteran’s seeking employment – The unemployment rate among young veterans is almost three times the national average. It’s a sad time when our veteran’s fight for our freedom, then upon their return, 22.5% of them find themselves unemployed and unable to find work. The top reasons they typically aren’t hired: skill translation, negative stereotypes, skill mismatches, future deployment and acclimation. This charity seeks to help by supporting groups who assist them in finding high quality careers. You can help by talking to your employers and educating them on the misguided worries for not hiring a vet, help a vet become aware of the most effective services, or donate to Call of Duty Endowment directly and they will seek out to do these things for you.
There are of course more charities out there, and there may even be some that go on in your local area. It’s amazing what you can find with a little time and a Google search. Even as I was preparing this, IGN posted an article about this very subject, which can be found here. I’m all for bringing more awareness to charities, and within the article it also lists two more charities to consider: Donate Games and Cancer for College.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope that learning about the existence of these charities warms your heart as it did mine. Lets go out and do some good in the world. We’re the ones inheriting this world, so lets work together as a community to make it a place that we deserve.
As a side note, I’ll be doing my part to contribute by joining in Extra Life as my first charity. On October 25th, I will be playing a variety of games, primarily PC most likely, to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. If you liked my article and would like to help, you can donate to the group I started for APGNation here, or you can visit the main link provided above to join yourself, or search for others to donate to as well. Even if you are unable to donate money, please share this with anyone and everyone. The more people we reach, the better the chances we have of making a difference in the lives of people locally and around the world.
Which charity do you think you will help out with? Let us know below if this article helped you find charities you were unaware of, and as always please remember to follow us on Twitter @APGNation for more gaming news and updates.