Gaming for Good

The video game industry is full of talented developers and personalities who are helping promote charitable causes, benefiting both the brands and the charities involved with additional exposure and money raised. We were going to highlight a few philanthropic efforts initially, but the list was too good to keep short!

  • 11 bit studios raised $500,000 via sales of its This War of Mine DLC for the War Child, a charity organization that assists children and young people in conflict areas.
  • Activision Blizzard raised $12.7 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Activision Blizzard offered a limited-edition pink outfit for its Overwatch character Mercy, t-shirts with the pink Mercy design and a live-stream event on Twitch featuring streaming star players and in-game rewards for viewers. All tips collected at the event were donated. The raise was BCRF’s largest gift from a corporate partner. Activision Blizzard has raised money with its other games, counts a Global Philanthropy Manager among its personnel and has set up the Call of Duty Endowment that supports groups focused on veteran job placement.
  • Desert Bus is a long-running gaming marathon and online telethon. The weeklong annual event was started by comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun over ten years ago. Its 2018 event raised more than $700,000, bringing its lifetime raise to more than $5 million. Funds benefit Child’s Play, a non-profit improving the lives of children in hospitals and domestic abuse shelters with toys and games. Based on the original mini-game Desert Bus, the player drives between Tuscon and Las Vegas in real-time, and the length of the gaming marathon is determined by the donations received with the “cost” of driving increasing 7% hourly, starting at $1 for the first hour.
  • One high profile charity event was Epic Games’ 2018 Celebrity Pro-AM where EDM DJ Marshmello and pro-stream Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins won the top $1 million prize for the charities of their choice. The Celebrity Pro-AM event paired 50 YouTube and Twitch pro gamers with 50 celebrities which included The Walking Dead star Chandler Riggs, Community’s Joel McHale, musician Lil Yachty, MMA fighter Sean O’Malley and a total charitable prize pool of $3 million.
  • ESA’s annual gala Nite to Unite celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018 and raised $250,000 for its foundation that promotes social impact using video games, such as awarding computer science scholarships to women and minorities and initiatives enhancing STEAM education with video games. Over its lifetime, the ESA Foundation has raised over $20 million.
  • Games Done Quick hosts biannual speedrun challenges for charitable causes. Its past Summer Games Done Quick raised more than $3 million from over 50,000 donations, benefited Doctors Without Borders and was the highest single event raise. Games Done Quick has raised over $22 million, and this event is its first to cross $3 million, beating its previous highest raise by nearly 50%.
  • Gaming Community Expo (the new rebrand of GuardianCon) raised $3.7 million over its 2019 weekend event for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through its marathon streaming blocks that feature popular broadcasters and developers offering incentives for donations. Dr. Lupo alone raised over $920,000 in his four-hour streaming block.
  • Global Game Jam and the IGDA Foundation partnered together to create the One Gamer Fund, a coalition similar to the United Way that splits its raise among gaming-based charities: AbleGamers, Child’s Play, Games for Change, Global Game Jam, IGDA Foundation, Stack-Up and Take This. Last year’s efforts included a 40-game Steam sale, proceeds from merchandiser The Yetee and participating Twitch streamers.
  • One of the best-known charity initiatives, Humble Bundle’s pay-what-you-want sales bundles, has raised over $152 million for many charities like Action Against Hunger, American Red Cross, Child’s Play, Make-A-Wish and World Wildlife Fund since 2010. Sega has taken advantage of Humble Bundle’s platform, raising over $2 million for causes relevant to their developers, such as Relic’s passion for protecting orcas as they’re based in British Columbia and benefiting the Whale & Dolphin Conservation.
  • Entertainment media company Rooster Teeth raised over $1.4 million for the Dell Children’s Mental Health Unit in Austin, TX, bringing their team’s total raise for Extra Life’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraising program to over $5 million.
  • Twitch offers three different extensions for broadcasters to use for charitable fundraising and reported in 2017 that over $75 million had been raised on its platform for 100+ charities.

We are impressed by the range of charitable efforts made by companies of different types and sizes and for different causes. We hope this can inspire more geek philanthropy efforts.