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Gamers like myself are often categorized in the media as dangerous bombs moving through society, just waiting for a time to explode and wreak massive amounts of carnage.  If seems like nearly every new story about a tragic attack or shooting manages to find a gaming console or computer game in the possession of the perpetrator and that is immediately the cause of the incident.  And, of course, ill-informed and overzealous crusaders like Jack Thompson haven’t helped.

However, gamers are not, generally, what the media has painted us to be.  We are normal people, just like everyone else.  But, we are also a community, forged by our shared interests and disparagement.  These shared experiences have led to thriving communities on the internet through a multitude of websites from forums to webcomics.

One of the most popular of these webcomics is Penny Arcade.  The community at PA is so large and connected that they even hold a convention annually, and will be adding a second next year.  But, more impressively, the creators of PA created a charitable organization several years ago that has become more and more successful each year.  It is called Child’s Play.

Child’s Play started as a simple idea.  Gamers donating various items from toys to video game consoles to books and DVDs to a Seattle (where PA is based) children’s hospital.  The output overwhelmed their ability to handle it.  Now, with the help of numerous corporate sponsors, the program is helping almost 70 children’s hospitals in five countries.  Since the program began over $5 million dollars in charitable donations have been given in the form of merchandise and cash donations to the participating hospitals.  PA even holds an annual black tie dinner and auction for the charity.  And all this was done by a community of the gamers your local newspaper says are so dangerous.

I love this time of year, but for me the holiday season has always been more about the giving than the receiving; and helping out those who need a helping hand is a big part of that.  As you’re considering where to give this season, please, consider Child’s Play.  The kids in these hospitals are going through things no one, especially that young, should need to experience.  If we can bring a sliver of joy to those kids and give them a way to forget their illness and just be kids for a while, isn’t that worthwhile?

Child's Play

Please, click the logo above, learn about Child’s Play, and consider giving to a hospital near you.  Help bring a little of the spirit of the holidays to places that need that light.


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