Gamers often get a bad rep for spending hours glued to a screen, lost in imaginary worlds. However, in recent years, the gaming community has been at the forefront of mobilizing social causes. Ever since the internet became ubiquitous, the gaming community has collectively come forward to support the underprivileged and the needy. The proof lies in several charity organizations and events that promote donation drives throughout the year.
With the holidays upon us, we wanted to bring to light a list of the most popular charity events and organizations revolving around gaming. If you are an avid gamer or just a keen viewer who loves watching speedrunners live, check out the list below. You can even drive more traffic to your own fundraising events with the help of the charities listed below.
1. Gamers Outreach
Started in 2007, this charity delivers recreational therapy to kids in hospitals with the help of Go Karts. These are medical-grade rolling kiosks that have a gaming console and a monitor. The idea is to make games accessible to kids who are undergoing long-term treatment in hospitals. Video games can provide a necessary distraction from a not-so-pleasant experience. They can also help improve kids’ cognitive abilities and social skills.
From its humble beginnings in 2007, Gamers Outreach has come a long way and today supports almost 200,000 children each year. The organization has also partnered with some big names in the gaming industry, including Microsoft, Twitch, and Activision. You can donate directly to Gamers Outreach, or you can take part in one of the many fundraising events that it organizes. You can even start your own campaign via Gamers Outreach’s web portal. The organization is run by Zach Wigal, who features in Forbes’ 30-under-30 list of 2017.
2. Child’s Play
This is one of the oldest charities centered around kids and games. Set up in 2003, Child’s Play collects cash donations to buy consoles, games, and monitors that are given to hospitals and therapy centers. If you would rather donate, you can access a network hospital’s wish list through the Child’s Play website.
The charity organization also has a handy widget for people who run their own donation drives online. You can even market your fundraising event through the organization’s calendar of events, which is seen by hundreds of gaming enthusiasts around the world.
3. Extra Life
Started in 2008, Extra Life organizes a marathon Game Day on November 4 every year. Enthusiastic gamers from around the world participate in the 24-hour event. The best part is you can participate in the event with any game you like, from lazy poker to the intense Halo, and beyond.
While the marathon event is the organization’s flagship charity effort, you don’t necessarily have to pledge the full 24 hours in order to raise funds. In fact, you can raise funds throughout the year by playing games whenever you have time. The funds are donated to a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in your city. Since 2008, the Extra Life community has grown to 100,000 active gamers, who have collectively raised $30 million for kids in the US and Canada.
4. Play Live
Similar to Extra Life, Play Live is a year-round charity initiative that helps gamers stream their fundraising gaming sessions. The initiative is taken by St. Jude Hospital, and the donations go towards cancer research and cancer treatment for kids. The highest fundraisers are given goodies and game rewards. The initiative is in participation with GameStop and Twitch.
5. Games Done Quick
A lot of gaming charities focus on kids, but Games Done Quick is different. Every year, the organization supports a different charity. In 2017, it supported the Doctors Without Borders and managed to raise almost $2 million. In 2018, Games Done Quick is supporting the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The week-long gaming event is scheduled from January 7 to January 14 in Herndon, Virginia.
The idea is to get speedrunners together and organize an engaging gaming stream marathon. Speedrunners are gamers who have perfected a game — either through years of practice or by exploiting hacks — and can zip through a game really fast. If you are a speedrunner, you can send in your games, accompanied by a video that showcases your skills. If you are selected, you will be invited to participate in the annual gaming marathon.
As a viewer, you can donate directly, or you can engage in bidding marathons with other donors. Bidding marathons are reserved for challenges within a game or for certain game features, such as character names and colors.
6. Smash The Record
This one is for all Super Smash Bros’ fans. Gamers play marathon sessions of Super Smash Bros, which are streamed live on Twitch. In addition to these fundraising streams, there are additional challenges to stretch fundraising goals, such as lip-syncing battles. It is a three-day event that supports St. Jude’s Hospital. In 2015, Smash The Record’s inaugural year, $14,000 were raised for the pediatric hospital. While the first two editions were hosted in Los Angeles, in 2017, the event was shifted to Ontario, California.