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Gamers Are A Giving Bunch

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ExtraLife

The general public may not have figured this out yet, but gamers are generous. After all, we’re the type of people who like to overcome obstacles in the name of good, rescue the princess, defeat the alien menace, and protect our homes from zombies. It only makes sense that we also like helping people in the real world as well.

As fans of this site already know, many of us involved in The Mommy Gamers are participating in this weekend’s 25-hour Extra Life marathon, raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country. Yes, of course it’s an excuse for us to play games all day with no interruptions. I am expecting to spend much of my time getting through The Last of Us, because I simply haven’t had time to play it since I bought it. But it’s also a chance for us to do good while doing what we love – and that’s a total no-brainer for me.

Still, this isn’t just a plug trying to convince people to give us money. (Just do it! There are a few days left!) I also wanted to remind everyone out there that there are also other charities, beyond Extra Life, that allow gamers to enjoy gaming while helping out good causes. These include:

Child’s Play: Many of us who attend gaming events have heard of Child’s Play, an organization dedicated to providing video games, toys, books and other fun items for kids in a network of 70 worldwide hospitals. Cash donations are accepted and go toward purchasing games, consoles and more for kids who can use this equipment for therapy, diversion, and connecting with others. Many marathons and gaming events have been set up to fundraise for Child’s Play while letting people enjoy games and interact with gamers, including the upcoming Desert Bus for Hope and The Cookie Brigade at PAX events.

Humble Bundle: When I first learned about the Humble Bundle, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. The basic concept is that a bunch of games are bundled together for purchase, and buyers get to set their own price. They can also decide how to divide the funds up to go to charitable organizations, game developers, and/ or the folks who bring you the Humble Bundle. This is a great deal, and the bundles always include at least a few things I want. Sales change weekly, and games are DRM-free.

The AbleGamers Foundation: This fantastic organization helps empower disabled children and adults through gaming, by championing assistive technology and providing reviews geared toward those with physical challenges. It also acts as an advocate, encouraging game publishers and developers to utilize best practices for accessibility. AbleGamers is supported by events like the Minethon.

There are plenty of others, of course, from small groups of college kids playing games for their favorite cause to big endeavors like Extra Life. Throughout the year events – marathons, trips, tournaments – take place supporting these groups and more causes worth the time and effort. I encourage all gamers, and friends, to get involved; there are so many ways to do good while doing what we love. That really goes for whatever we enjoy doing, whether it’s gaming or dancing or collecting stamps. Everyone can find a way to give back.

As well as being generous, gamers are also competitive, and we want to win this fundraising thing. So now, the shameless plug: my Extra Life page is here (I’m not playing with The Mommy Gamers this year, I’m with the Retroids group, which was founded by some of my old EGM colleagues and is more local to me). If you’d like to support other members of The Mommy Gamers, they’re at Team Jax. I recommend donating at least $5 or so to Ashton, Desirai’s boy, or Hannah, Marcia’s daughter, because I think the kids should be encouraged, and I’d love for them to really discover the joy of giving. Next year, maybe my son will participate too.

About Helen A. Lee


Helen is a veteran writer with credits in The Learned Fangirl, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Gamespot.com, Chicago Tribune and nytimes.com, among others (if pressed, she may cop to writing instructional guides to pop star hair and interviewing "Desperate Housewives" stars). She's a huge geek and her son, age 11, looks to be following in her footsteps.