Historically, those who identify as gamers haven’t received the best portrayal in the media. Certain stigmas still resonate with people who don’t educate themselves, and the media outlets that are in direct competition for market share with games certainly do not have a vested interest in championing the merits of the gaming social group. From tabletop gaming being linked to Satanism, to the moral craze over red-colored pixels in Mortal Kombat, and the more recent accusations that gamers are complicit in the degradation of women via the hobby that they enjoy, there are ample examples of the negative portrayal of gamers. It has been easy for the mainstream media to sensationalize and lampoon gamers en masse.
Recently, I was thinking about the traits that gamers as a social group would identify with. One trait that easily came to mind, being on the inside as it were, would be charity. Gamers are more than willing to step up when asked to support causes both humble and huge. They will even combine empathy with competitiveness, treating donation tallies as a sort of high score and working together for the greater good.
Examples that exemplify this pattern are easy to find when looked for. Here you have the folks from PDXLAN in Portland, OR, who came together and gathered over 37,000 lbs. of food for the homeless, yet could hardly find press for it at the time. People from all over the globe come together for organizations like Extra Life and Child’s Play, raising millions of dollars per year for their causes. Gamers can even scratch their capitalistic itch while helping others with sites like Humble Bundle, which gets publishers to pack together games in a way that allows buyers to name their price and specify what amounts go to charity.
Today I would like to highlight a more recent group that is working to organize the charitable nature of the gaming community. GamerGiving (@gamergiving) came together late in 2014 after seeing the success of charity drives like Them Fine Young Capitalists’ Indiegogo campaign for women in game development, the PACER Center for Bullying campaign, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention campaign, and many more. These charity drives were silver linings to the turbulent times in gaming that marked the end of 2014. With the spirit of giving in mind, the folks at GamerGiving organized to run charity events and live streams.
Starting with fantastic 24-hour live streaming extravaganzas, now also branching out to scheduled shows and written content, GamerGiving has been looking for new ways to bring the community together and highlight opportunities to help our fellow humans. The content produced by them is entertaining and educational. They work with only the highest-rated charities, and every cent goes to the causes. You can find their streaming schedule and other content on their website, and you can see their mission statement here.
In fact, this Saturday, February 21st, they have organized another one of their 24-hour live events! It’s almost as if I timed this article… They have some wonderful guests onboard and some fantastic blocks planned out. This isn’t a PBS marathon — you can expect some quality entertainment throughout the weekend. I urge people to check out the festivities. No worries if you cannot donate; spreading word and raising awareness is fantastic as well. Otherwise, I know they are just happy to have the community come together to be excellent while having a good time.
The organizations listed here operate all year long. Don’t feel you have to wait for holidays and special events to help out — give a little, or spread the word. Bookmark these sites, talk about them with your friends and family, and join us as we try to do the best we can help. The game of giving never has to end.
“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
(Disclaimer: Writer John B works with GamerGiving. Some members of the SuperNerdLand staff are friends with members of GamerGiving as well.)