Gamers are a generous sort, as evidenced by the countless ways they have been raising money for charities over the past several years. 2011 was an especially noteworthy year, a year in which the Child’s Play charity alone raised $3,512,345. Child’s Play was founded by Penny Arcade owners Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins in 2003 as a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in a network of over 70 hospitals worldwide.
Throughout the year, the charity hosted and inspired hundreds of events that helped lead to over a $1,000,000 increase from last year’s donations, by far the largest margin in the history of Child’s Play. Some of the most notable events from 2011 include the Child’s Play Gala and Auction, which raised $351,000 for the charity by auctioning off rare pieces of video game history along with the chance to appear in a Penny Arcade strip.
Ümloud, the annual “Rock Band Night for Child’s Play” saw its third year of existence bring in more than twice the amount of money raised last year, coming to a grand total of $26,523.85. The Annual Child’s Play Golf Tournament was also founded this year, along with a brand new website redesign. Child’s Play has now broken the $10 million mark for donations over its lifetime.
Another huge impact on the charity scene has been the Humble Bundle, which puts together a collection of games from indie developers and lets players decide how much of what they pay for the bundle goes to charity. There were six bundles this year, each raising hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions, of dollars not only for indie game developers, but also for Child’s Play and the American Red Cross.
Bigger companies have made their mark as well, including Zynga, which raised money through its social games on Facebook. Coming off hugely successful donation campaigns such as the Haiti relief efforts, Zynga.org, the philanthropy-focused initiative of Zynga, collected over $3 million for Japan quake relief. $1.5 million of the proceeds were donated by Lady Gaga, a celebrity who would become even further attached to Zynga when GagaVille launched in May.
Things have not slowed down in the new year either. Just yesterday the guys and girls over at Speed Demos Archive began the six-day marathon of speed running known as Awesome Games Done Quick, and they have already raised over $20,000. AGDQ has become a January tradition of sorts, gaining steam every year as it sees more coverage and more people tuning in to watch some of the most talented international players race through games while raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Not only is this a chance to watch gamers much more talented than yourself complete games ridiculously quickly, many of them detail the tips and tricks of the runs as they go. So you can donate money to the prevention of cancer and learn something about your favorite games too. Viewers are also given the opportunity to donate money toward specific goals, such as whether the runners will play Pokemon Red or Pokemon Blue. As if all this wasn’t incentive enough to tune in, there are prizes to be won during almost every run and a life-sized replica Master Sword being given away at the end of the marathon. You can pick up a cheap shirt as well with some fantastic artwork, bearing a name that has become the marathon’s slogan: “Serious Time.”
We have not even breached the surface of how much gamers are doing for charities all around the world. The methods are usually just as entertaining as they are effective, as the above examples should make abundantly clear. Look forward to another year of gamer generosity in 2012.