Over the holidays, I received a package from THQ, just one among many pieces of swag and nonsense that publishers ply bloggers with on a regular basis. However, unlike the usual bits of miscellanea, this was something a bit more questionable -- it was cold, hard cash.
More specifically, it was a pre-paid American Express card with $50 on it. The conceit was that some UFC match was playing on pay-per-view, and the money could be used to order the match. Obviously, however, it could be spent on anything, and in no way served to properly promote a game or aid in any coverage. It's one of those dubious things that, even if I spent the money as intended, would just be kind of weird. Not to mention, it's one of those canned controversies just waiting to happen.
I've already seen Vox Media's Arthur Gies questioning THQ's decision to send out money, although I don't know who else got a card and what they did with the doubloons. I gotta thank Arthur though, whose Tweets helped put in perspective just how screwy the idea was.
In any case, I left it on a table while I considered the options (and resisted the admittedly strong urge to shamelessly buy Aliens toys with it), but I didn't want to just let fifty bucks sit there. I chatted with Hal Halpin, head of the Entertainment Consumers Association and a man who has been diligently working to fight SOPA. It became clear that a good idea would be to send the card his way to contribute to the ECA's continued efforts in championing the rights of gamers -- something the Video Game Voters Network only pretends to do.
Since many publishers are still remaining quiet on SOPA, I recently made the contribution on their behalf. I know $50 is nothing compared to the millions donated by wealthy SOPA supporters as they attempt to buy our legal system, but the ECA having an extra $50 is better than the ECA not having an extra $50. Plus, I hear they're going to do something fun with it in a way to gives back to the gamer community and continues to drive opposition to SOPA, which isn't a bad deal at all!
Money well spent, I think.