Andy McNamara, editor-in-chief of Game Informer magazine, writes a monthly opening letter that touches on a variety of subjects and issues pertaining to games and gaming culture. It is always an interesting read but one he wrote a few months back struck a particular chord with me that proved difficult to shake.
In the letter, Andy talked about the strides gamers and game developers have been making in regards to charity and giving back. He delved into one particular example; the story of how a young fourth-grader named Owain who had recently been diagnosed with leukemia was given the chance to live out his greatest dream to make his own video game. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation and the developers over at PopCap Studios, Owain’s dream became a reality.
The letter got me thinking about just how much the video game industry has done to help people like Owain not only live out their dreams but also live better lives in general. Considering the technical breakthroughs game designers have achieved, it would make sense that some could be put to good use.
Leading by example
Anyone who’s passionate about game development or gaming in general would do well to check out organizations like Child’s Play and Special Effect. Organizations such as these help assist disabled children and adults play, enjoy, and sometimes even create games. In some cases, it can even help them live more active lifestyles. Thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of each organization’s staff and many supporters, large sums of money are raised annually through charity events, pledge drives, and other fundraising activities and proceeds go to local hospitals and nearby special needs schools.
Fundraising isn’t the only way these organizations seek to help people either. Child’s Play works with other companies and supporters to help donate gaming peripherals, systems, games, and other accessories to hospitals and therapy facilities, allowing patients to enjoy gaming with their friends and family and thus helping to alleviate the discomfort of an otherwise unpleasant process. Special Effect takes it one step further, not only providing disabled children and adults with games and peripherals, but also working with the patients themselves to develop entirely new ways for them to enjoy the games they play.