On Games and Giving


Gentle readers, I was raised Catholic, by a mother who believed that you could pray all you want, but if you weren’t going out and actually doing good work, then your faith was half-hearted, and that half was the easy half. Now, that’s just an opinion, and it may not be shared by all reading this. But since Sundays were the day we went to church, they were the days also devoted to charity and volunteerism. I wasn’t always psyched for it, and for much of my childhood I wished that I could play video games instead of volunteering. As it turns out, you can do both! So today I’d like to tell you about some good deeds being done at the intersection of gaming and good intentions.

main-thumb-2256886-200-9ra8qeyLPAiCSxZDCutqS64N2PsIzIfcFirst, a signal boost: Billy Joe Cain, a man who has been working as a video game developer, studio founder, and marketer for over twenty years, is doing his part for a particular corner of the world, by doing his favorite thing: video gaming. Next Saturday, Cain will attempt to play the classic arcade game Defendera 2D starship shooter from 1980 for a record-setting eighty hours to raise money for a soup kitchen in Texas. He will also be attempting to beat the world record high score, something he’s done before. The whole event will be livestreamed from his Twitch.tv account, if you want to check it out.

Eighty hours is a long time to play a video game straight through. In the past decade a number of gamers have died in long gaming sessions, having ignored their well-being, needs for nutrition, or the potentially dangerous over-stimulation that comes from playing a game for hours without stopping. Ideally, in a charity spectacle like this one, people will be watching over his well-being as well as marveling at his determination.

Batman-BeginsNext, if you’re a PC gamer and you didn’t know (in which case, get more considerate friends), the WB Humble Bundle is out! For the next ten days, PC gamers (read: people who use Steam) can pay what they like for the following four gaming titles: Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY Edition, F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin, F.E.A.R 3, and Lord of the Rings: War in the North. If they’re willing to pay more than the average amount (which at the time of writing is $4.64 USD), they can also download Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition and Scribblenauts Unlimited. At the time of purchase, the player can divide their donations as they like between the developers, WB Games, HumbleBundle, or the charity this event supports, We Can Be Heroes, which was started by DC Entertainment to fight hunger and starvation in the Horn of Africa. Check out the video:

Finally, there are two sponsored gaming marathons going on right now that you can donate to or participate in. As I’ve mentioned before, Operation Supply Drop’s 8-Bit Salute to Veterans is a good cause, and is going on right now. And Extra-Life, a marathon that raises money for hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network, just had their second event day and even if you missed registration, you can add to the 3.8 million they’ve already raised for sick children. That’s pretty cool, right?

You don’t have to go out and change the world to do good. If you can convince your friends to support you, you can honestly just hammer buttons for a while and help fight hunger, make a sick child’s day a little brighter, or help make the lives of brave young men and women overseas a little easier. Even if you can just be aware of and signal boost these kinds of events in the future, every little bit helps.