Gaming is a booming industry. Its global worth was estimated as $138 billion in 2018. According to Ukie (UK Interactive Entertainment – an industry trade body), as the 6th largest video game market the UK claims £5.7 billion of that global revenue, with around 37 million of us playing games.
Not surprisingly, gaming has attracted fundraisers who are looking for new income streams and seeking to engage with a younger audience. Amnesty International, Unicef UK and Macmillan all provide support for people raising funds through playing, streaming and competing. JustGiving has a hub, Gaming for Social Good, to help people raising money through gaming. Level Up for Shelter is a 135 minute gaming challenge (which is one minute for each family that becomes homeless every day in Britain) where gamers are sponsored to play for 135 minutes.
Gamers themselves are interested in philanthropy. CAF conducted a survey in 2017 and found that 58% were interested in donating while playing and 59% would be more likely to pay to remove adverts if some of the cost went to charity. For anyone, say over 30, who feels an outsider in this world of gaming, you can be reassured that the philanthropic initiatives that look to tap into this potential generosity are familiar. For example:
Donated goods - Get Well Gamers UK takes donated video games and consoles for young people to play when in hospital.
Charitable trading – when buying games from Humble Bundle, you can donate part of the price to charity.
Sponsored events – such as GameBlast – an annual charity gaming marathon. GameBlast19 raised £100,000 for charity. As with many things philanthropic, America is ahead of the game. It has well established events such as the Fortnite Tournament, where 50 top players and 50 celebrities battled it out for a £3m prize for the charity of their choice. Others include Zeldathon, Games Done Quick and the Overwatch game from Blizzard Entertainment which raises money for Breast Cancer Research Foundation from the purchase of ‘skins’ (that change the look of items in games) and merchandise.
Direct delivery – HopeLab’s Re-mission game helps young people to cope with cancer. SpecialEffect helps disabled people to play games.
Major donors - High earning players such as Ninja have raised money when streaming but also have given major donations themselves. Markus Personn (Minecraft founder) is a major donor for Doctors Without Borders.
Foundations - Activision has a Call of Duty Endowment which gives grants to organisations supporting veterans. In the UK it has awarded grants to RFEA - The Forces Employment Charity and Walking with The Wounded. And Ma Huateng (CEO of Tencent which owns or has a stake in loads of top game brands including Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Epic Games, Riot Games) has his Ma Huateng Global Foundation which supports medical, education and environmental causes in China.
Alongside all these examples is of course the darker side of gaming. Just last year, ‘gaming disorder’ was classified by the World Health Organisation and like other addictions, treatment is now available through the NHS or specialist centres like Computer Game Rehab from Rehab4Addiction. As the gaming industry grows and evolves these and other issues will need to be monitored. But as those within this relatively new industry gain more wealth, it is a trend to watch in philanthropy. If you haven’t already done so, it is worth investigating as part of a fundraising strategy.