Gaming companies are the new player in corporate responsibility. Whether by selling in-game virtual goods or harnessing the power of social media, they are aligning their brands with impactful initiatives.
Until recently, many companies in the sector didn’t focus on CSR. A top executive at a gaming company once told us, “I don’t see opportunity for gaming companies to do good.” But this past year we’ve seen incredible generosity unleashed by the gaming community, with games raising funds for everything from hurricane and earthquake relief to education for children in Uganda.
Here are seven of my favorite initiatives:
Both a digital storefront for video games and an incredible engine for good, Humble Bundle is celebrated for its cause-oriented product collections where all proceeds go to charity. In September, they raised millions of dollars for disaster relief with their Hurricane Relief Bundle. Since 2010, they’ve raised more than $123 million with similar programs.
Virtual goods can make a real impact. 343 Industries’ Halo offered a Relief and Recovery Req Pack that supported several GlobalGiving disaster relief funds. A member posted his reaction on a Halo forum saying the initiative was, “Definitely an awesome cause with everything that has happened. I do love how they’re handling this. I haven’t bought a single pack in Halo ‘til now and I feel no buyer’s remorse knowing it’s all going to a good cause.”
Big Huge Games is another company giving their players in-game opportunities to make a difference. Players of its DomiNations game from 117 countries contributed $16,835 through in-game purchases to benefit GlobalGiving’s Puerto Rico & Caribbean Relief Fund. The DomiNations team shared a message of appreciation via their Facebook account, “We have all been heartened to see our DomiNations world leaders take up the task of helping others throughout the real world.”
When a character from Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog game was made into a highly problematic meme, Sonic stepped in on social media with a way to take meaningful action. The Twitter account for Sonic the Hedgehog tweeted a meme to 5 million followers accompanied by the message, “Let us show you the way… to make the world a better place.” With that single tweet, the Sonic brand drove thousands in donations for vetted GlobalGiving projects in Uganda from organizations, including Arlington Academy of Hope and The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.
The company behind the massively popular multiplayer game League of Legends, Riot Games, has matched millions in donations made by their global eSports community. Players had the chance to vote for one of three organizations to receive the majority of the funds raised, and they enthusiastically supported an organization addressing mental health needs. One player wrote in response, “I speak for every person who voted or directly supported this effort when I say thank you.”
One of several organizations nurturing the social good potential of the gaming community, Games for Change supports game creators in developing games that make the world a better place. It also hosts an annual Games for Change Festival for changemakers to swap ideas.
As the philanthropic arm of a gaming industry trade group, Entertainment Software Association Foundation seeks to create opportunity for youth in the United States through scholarships and grants.
Featured Photo: Skills for Employment for 100 Youth in Kalimantan by Yayasan Usaha Mulia.
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