12 Video Game Charities Making Positive Change In The World
Charities make a big impact globally, and there are some unique ones that use video games to spread joy or financial support to those who need it. In this blog, we'll focus on some of these heroes who bring smiles and support through the power of games. If you know about a video game charity that should belong in this list, suggest it in the comments.
Kwalee have been proud to support a number of these initiatives, raising money for vital causes and enjoying some great activities to bond as a team and with games industry peers. Discover the power and change these charities are making in people's lives, all thanks to video games.
Video Game Charities Around the Globe
GamesAid plays a crucial role in raising funds for various UK charities that work with children and young people, particularly those who are disadvantaged or disabled. Run by volunteer trustees, GamesAid operates as a non-trading body with a unique democratic approach, as members of the games industry propose and vote for charities annually, ensuring a fair distribution of funds to smaller, deserving causes. In September 2022, we proudly emerged victorious in GamesAid's Go Karting Championship, with the total fundraiser contributing over £11,000 to six incredible charities. This friendly yet competitive annual event brought together teams from across the UK games industry, and the entire proceeds from the championship were equally distributed among GamesAid's six selected charities, including AFK, Autistica Play, Lifelites, Solving Kids Cancer, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, and Winston’s Wish.
SpecialEffect's dedication to ‘levelling the playing field for gamers’ with physical challenges is transformative. From creating bespoke control setups to developing freely-available resources, they're making gaming accessible to everyone. Using ideas like modified controllers and eye-tracking sensors, SpecialEffect ensures that individuals can play to the best of their abilities, fostering a positive impact on their quality of life. In May 2023, to show our support, a few of our team members wiped the dust off their football boots, and took part in the Football Fives series, with the event raising an incredible total £29,000 for their work. In addition to this, each year SpecialEffect hosts One Special Day, where the games industry and its studios were encouraged to donate a portion of their day’s revenues. We offered our hand to SpecialEffect pledging the UK profits from three of our biggest games: Draw it, Bake it and Line Up: Draw the Criminal. Due to this fundraiser, SpecialEffect raised £115,517!
Child’s Play Charity in America is on a mission to brighten the lives of paediatric hospital patients through the simple yet powerful act of play. Founded in 2003 by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade, the charity started by rallying fans to support Seattle Children’s Hospital through an Amazon Wishlist. The response was overwhelming, raising over $250,000 in cash and toys in less than a month.
Today, Child’s Play operates in 190+ hospitals worldwide, delivering not only games and technology but also introducing innovations like the therapeutic video game guide and funding Pediatric Gaming and Technology Specialists in hospitals. These specialists bring expertise and dedicated support to enhance the paediatric patient experience. The impact goes beyond gaming, with initiatives like the Ohmni Robot allowing patients to virtually participate in external events and Draw Alive, an interactive tool bringing drawings to life. Child’s Play Charity is making a real difference in the lives of children facing medical challenges.
This image belongs to ‘Safe in Our World’
Safe in Our World
Safe In Our World aims to promote mental health awareness within the video game industry globally. Their goal is to break the stigma around mental health, making it a normal topic for discussion. The charity also aims to educate those who don't suffer from mental health issues, helping them understand challenges to better support others. Their website serves as a hub for information and support, featuring hero stories of individuals who've battled mental illness. The charity encourages the video game industry to support mental health initiatives, providing resources for employees and incorporating mental health themes in games. Notably, they spotlight developers like Emily Mitchell, whose game Fractured Minds raises awareness about mental health.
Safe In Our World emphasises the importance of companies leading by example, launching campaigns like Level Up to promote mental health support in the workplace. They conduct research on the impact of video games on mental health and collaborate with global mental health organisations. The charity also recruits volunteer mental health ambassadors, expanding their message across platforms and events.
Get Well Gamers
Get Well Gamers is making a difference in UK hospitals by delivering donated video games and consoles. These games serve as effective pain management tools, bringing entertainment to young patients during extended hospital stays. Currently collaborating with over 140 healthcare organisations, the charity relies on donations to spread joy to thousands of children across the country. Their latest initiative, the PowerUp gaming cart, is designed in collaboration with Parity Medical for portability, security, and safety in medical settings. This cart can accommodate any console, featuring a monitor and secure storage for games and accessories. Hospitals can choose to purchase an empty cart for existing consoles or opt for a pre-equipped cart with an Xbox One S or a PS4 Pro, both including two controllers.
This image belongs to ‘Gamers Outreach’.
Gamers Outreach is on a mission to brighten the hospital experience for millions of children. Hospitalisation can be isolating, and Gamers Outreach believes in the healing power of play and aims to restore joy to hospitalised children's lives. By providing gaming equipment and software, they ensure every hospital can offer kids activities alongside medical care. From portable Go Karts to a team of Player 2 volunteers, they tailor solutions in collaboration with healthcare experts. Recognising the unique role of video games, Gamers Outreach creates digital playgrounds that let kids explore, connect, and simply have fun during treatment. With programs in over 400 hospitals, 12,400 daily gaming experiences, and a dedicated team of 150+ volunteers, Gamers Outreach is making a positive impact on the lives of hospitalised children.
This charity focuses on combating social isolation through play, aiming to create opportunities that foster inclusive communities and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. The charity's mission is to ensure that people with disabilities can lead fulfilling lives by providing them with opportunities for play.
Public support plays a crucial role in making this happen, and the charity operates without cost to those it serves. With almost two decades of experience as pioneers in inclusive play, AbleGamers has granted over $400,000 in equipment, invested thousands of hours in direct services, and collaborated with developers and engineers to create inclusive spaces where individuals with disabilities can connect with family and friends.
The 1,000 Dreams Fund's BroadcastHER Initiative is dedicated to supporting talented women in content creation, gaming and other industries. The mission is to aid the dreams of young women by providing crucial funding, resources, and mentor relationships. The vision is to enhance access to educational opportunities, ensuring that all young women, particularly those in need, can realise their full potential. This charity emphasises investing in the future of women in need, promoting diversity and opportunity for all backgrounds, and creating pathways to success through mentorship and empowerment. The 1,000 Dreams Fund aims to build confident and empowered young women, shaping them to be the next generation of leaders.
This image belongs to ‘Extra Life’.
Extra Life, a program of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, is a year-round fundraising effort that aims to Change Kids' Health to Change the Future. The community, consisting of over 100,000 heroes, rallies to raise funds benefiting local member hospitals. These donations support critical life-saving treatments, healthcare services, innovative research, paediatric medical equipment, and child life services. Since 2008, Extra Life has successfully raised over $110 million USD for this cause. The impact has directly benefited children's hospitals. In 2014, the community surpassed 100,000 heroes, and by 2021, over $100 million USD had been raised. Participation is to simply pledge to play games from home or online, ask friends and family to donate to your fundraising, and encourage others to join your team. By raising funds and having fun, the public contributes to supporting children throughout the hospitals.
War Child UK
This is a charity actively changing the lives of tens of thousands of children and advocating for millions more. Focused on protecting, educating, and defending the rights of children enduring conflict, the charity operates in six countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, reaching the most challenging and affected areas. War Child UK collaborates closely with the UK games sector, engaging in projects like developing a digital PC game pack and raising £5m from gaming. Through their work, War Child UK stands up for the rights of these children, going to the hardest-to-reach places to deliver vital aid and education, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of millions facing the challenges of conflict.
At Everyone Can, they empower disabled individuals to communicate, control their environment, gain independence, and enjoy activities like video gaming. Based in Sale, Manchester, their Technology and Gaming Centre offers free services, including gaming sessions for disabled children and adults. Their setup features four 150-inch screens, a driving wheel, two virtual reality stations, and three accessible gaming stations, accommodating various disabilities through joysticks, switch buttons, eye movements, or head movements. In September 2023, after a successful first launch in 2018, returned with another large fundraising campaign called Gamer Together. Participants played their favourite games and sought sponsorships to support disabled individuals through gaming.
This charity collaborates with leading game studios to tackle the climate crisis. With a massive 3.1 billion player base, the games industry holds significant potential for global climate-positive change. Games uniquely inspire, educate, and mobilise players for environmental causes. Planet Play was created to facilitate easy and accessible contributions to climate-positive action within the community. As a transparent non-profit entity, they are dedicated to a mission of restoring the planet through collaboration with partners and the community.
Vision for the Future
It's crucial to reflect on how these charities do more than provide immediate relief or entertainment. They are reshaping perceptions of gaming as a medium. By harnessing the power of play, they address complex issues like mental health, disability inclusion, childhood illness, and even global environmental challenges. This transformative approach is not just uplifting lives but also redefining the role of gaming in society.