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Gaming for Good

Gaming gets more than its fair share of negative headlines, so we thought we'd focus on the positive impact our shared hobby can make.

  • Ben Lyons & Ben KerryBen Lyons & Ben Kerry

As writers working in the game industry, it's often our jobs to analyse and critique video games and the creators that bring these ideas to life. While much of the time we can all come together and enjoy our collective hobby, oftentimes things can spill over. Whether it be for a lack of features, an unstable launch, or even questionable business practices, things can get negative pretty quickly. Today, however, we want to sweep that aside and move beyond these issues to instead look towards what games can do to make our lives better. Gaming-focused charities and community events all play a pivotal role in the industry, and we're here to show what they, along with game creators, do for the wider gaming community.

Charities

In this section, we want to highlight some of the best charities from around the world and what they do for gamers. Games Aid, for example, is a UK-based charity which not only works with disadvantaged and disabled young people who enjoy gaming but it also serves to help a number of smaller charities who share the same goals. Each year, members of the Games Aid charity group have the ability to vote on which smaller organisations they'd love to support, which we think is a brilliant and democratic way of letting everyone make a difference. In 2016, Games Aid UK provided 10 smaller charities with a huge donation of £95,400 each, to go towards their efforts of improving disadvantaged gamers' lives. In 2019, Games Aid UK has a slew of events planned including a games session with developer Supermassive Games at the Guilford Games festival in June, and the 12 days of Games Aid event, which auctions off one of a kind gaming goodies to raise money at Christmas for a selection of charities.

Over in the U.S, Child's Play is a unique charity which uses a network of hospitals to reach a broad range of children who love to play games. Child's Play aims to improve the lives of those in hospital by letting members of the public donate items curated from wish lists. This brilliant idea gives disadvantaged children the chance to experience gaming how they have always wanted to, whilst letting ordinary people make a massive difference to their lives. Child's Play certainly keeps themselves busy too, gathering cash donations to make their own console and accessory purchases for the hospital network. The charity, which operates worldwide, has a calendar of events viewable on their website, including speedrun competitions and charitable Twitch streams, all in the name of raising money.

Game Heroes

It's not only pure gaming focused charities that do well for the industry though, as some existing organisations that cover a range of charitable efforts have a gaming sector. There's a branch of well-known charity Macmillan Cancer Support called Game Heroes, which is all about lots of gaming in a short space of time. The gaming extension, created to support the main charity's efforts, looks to raise money by letting players take part in marathon 24-hour gaming sessions. Flexibility is a big plus point for Game Heroes, as the charity lets you sign up, pick a date and gather your own sponsors for a marathon night of gaming. Cumulatively, the charity has raised over £134,000 for cancer support. War Child UK is another example of a charity that contains a sector dedicated to gaming, albeit with a different approach. Helping children who are affected by conflict, War Child UK has its own paths for those looking to contribute in the gaming space; not only has the charity worked with developers to create themed games and DLC to fit the charity's ethos, like 11-11 Memories Retold and DLC for This War of Mine, War Child has a huge list of developer endorsements who contribute to the charity and its efforts. Tim Shafer, Rhianna Pratchett, and Steve Gaynor all support the organisation, giving it a broad reach in the games industry. It's not only big names who can contribute though, as anyone with a gaming challenge idea and the means to stream can donate, with such events raising over £2.5 million since the initiative began.

Some charities go above and beyond to make things easier for disadvantaged gamers, creating customised hardware. Ablegamers and Special Effect have taken huge strides to make gaming possible for anyone, even before Microsoft introduced its Xbox Adaptive Controller. Rather than a one-size-fits-all mentality, these charities look at each person individually and determine how they can create something to enhance the experience for disadvantaged gamers. Whether that be eye-tracking sensors, modified controllers, or building entire gaming setups; the goal is to find a way to make gaming enjoyable regardless of ability. As Ablegamers say, the sky's the limit! Special Effect, one the other hand, has a massive list of events that run throughout the year in the UK, from competitions and demos at gaming festivals like Insomnia, to sponsored marathon runs and football tournaments. In the last two years, Special Effect has smashed records for the biggest team in the Virgin Sport British 10k Run, with 125 runners in 2018. Whether building bespoke gaming setups, creating useful online guides or setting up a multitude of live events, both Ablegamers and Special Effect do fantastic work to help disabled gamers get playing.

Now we've been over some of the amazing charities working in the games industry, it's time to take a look at some of the most influential community figures, developers and events helping enable these charities to do their incredible work.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller.
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