Video games. When most parents here those two words they think of gore, violence, and blood. There is a stigmata that surrounds video games because of all the negative press given to it by national media and it's most well known denouncer, lawyer Jack Thompson. Two gamers however set out to combat that negative press. They were eager to get out a positive message regarding video games and the people who play them by setting up a charity supported by gamers and gaming companies.
The Child's Play Charity
was started by Penny Arcade
creators Mike “Gabe” Krahulik and Jerry “Tycho” Holkins, in response to a story written by Bill France in which he stated that video games are training our nation’s youth to kill. He later apologized for giving the assumption in his story that he thought all gamers were bad people.
“The Penny-arcade Web site and many of their readers, who are apparently gamers, demonstrated that they have big hearts and generous instincts,”
said France of learning about the Child's Play Charity.
Child's Play is a Seattle based charity that accepts age appropriate video games, coloring books, art supplies, movies, and lots of other toys. Since 2003 Child's Play has raised over $2 million dollars in cash and toys. Their 2006 event alone raised over $1 million dollars and supplied toys to 40 different hospitals. When I asked project manager Kristin Lindsay whether "Gabe" and "Tycho" expected Child's Play to become such an enormous project she said,
“They had no idea it was going to be as huge as it was in that first year. They had about a quarter million dollars of toys packed into a garage, they weren't quite ready for that. It's one of the best unexpected events we've ever had!”
To contribute to Child's Play, thanks to a partnership with Amazon.com, you can simply click on the one of the hospital controllers on their website
and you will be presented with a “wish list” of products you can purchase for the kids. If you aren't into the internet shopping phenomenon, you can also contribute money through PayPal. Even if you aren't there to see the kid receive their present or watch them play with their new Nintendo Wii, you can be sure they are smiling and their once sad spirits are raised. While the cut-off date for sending gifts is December 20th, 2007 donations from PayPal are accepted all year round.
"Let’s give these kids the Christmas that they deserve and let’s give the news papers a different kind of story to write about gamers,”
Mike exclaimed in his original post announcing the Child's Play Charity in 2004.
With over 45 hospitals to donate to and more joining every year, there are plenty of opportunities to give back. While individuals are helping in this cause, gaming companies such as Epic, Microsoft Game Studios, Ubisoft, and Valve have all dug deep and contributed to Child's Play who helped bring this year's total contributions to over $300,000 dollars. When asked what the goals are for this charity beyond it just getting bigger Kristin Lindsay had this to say,
“We are looking to branch out into other areas, such as finding ways to help smaller facilities and programs. There are a lot of great things we could do, and we know we can count on the incredible support from gamers to make that happen.”
Everyone belonging to the Child's Play Charity describe their work as “humbling, rewarding, fulfilling, proud, happy, exciting.” Every year they are swamped with e-mails thanking them for their help and support. One e-mail in particular came to the mind of Kristin about a boy named Dan Knapp who succumbed to cystic fibrosis at the age of 16. Much like how Penny Arcade helps children in hospitals, the Knapp family began the project Dan's Room in order to provide laptops for sick children and raise money for CF research. It was quite an inspiration for the people part of Child's Play.
Thanks to some gamers, kids are receiving smiles and fun during a time where the chips are stacked against them. I'd attempt to write something thought provoking but Jerry “Tycho” Holkins beat me to it.
"What the Internet has done is remove barriers to impulsive acts of generosity,” Jerry Holkins said, “When clicking a few times amounts to an act of genuine compassion, you can find good samaritans everywhere.”