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Child's Play Charity: Game Designers Giving Back

December 18, 2013 IADT General, Game Design and Production 0 Comments

Child's Play Charity: Game Designers Giving BackGame designers and producers must possess a highly technical skillset, but they must also be remarkably creative and imaginative. So, it comes as no surprise that a group of them work year after year to invent fun and innovative ways to give back to their communities. As the holidays get closer, many of us seek ways to help the less fortunate. For game design companies and gamers, charitable giving is child's play.

Back in 2003, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, game designers and creators of the popular gaming comic Penny Arcade, decided that they did not like the media's negative portrayal of gaming culture and did something about it. During the holiday season, they asked their readership to donate toys and games to sick children at the Seattle Children's Hospital. The response was so overwhelming that they have been able to expand their charity, dubbed Child's Play, to serve more than 90 hospitals worldwide. In that first year, they raised over $250,000 and, since then, have raised over $17 million to date. Child's Play celebrates their 10th anniversary of gamers giving back this year.

The concept is simple. Sick kids need a distraction from their illnesses, and hospitals do not always have the resources to provide these special patients with suitable diversions. This is where the games come in. Not only do games provide entertainment for children in an otherwise scary and daunting environment, but the stimulation can be a therapy in and of itself and can even reduce recovery time. One overjoyed Child Life Specialist wrote, "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the donation we recently received... Believe me when I say the donation we received could not have come at a better time. Not only will it provide our patients with support, distraction, and therapeutic play, it has already revitalized our staff morale."

Here are some creative ways game designers are using their skills and resources to support the charity:

  • Desert Bus for Hope: A charity gaming marathon, participants play games and respond to challenges posed to them via live chat by viewers who donate to the cause. They don't stop till the donations stop.
  • Humble Bundle: Game companies bundle their products to be sold as a package. Buyers are able to set the amount of their purchase price to be assigned to the charity, developers and operators. Purchasers of these bundles can sometimes get additional games if they exceed a certain threshold.
  • Indie Games for Good: A live indie games marathon, this event showcases indie games while raising money for the charity.
  • Charity Dinner and Auction: Gaming companies donate high-value items to auction off at this yearly event, items like a custom, one-of-a-kind Warcraft statue and tours of major game designer facilities.

From gaming marathons to charity auctions, gamers are finding ways to make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children. This holiday season consider participating in a community event near you.

Photo credit: Stock.xchng

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