Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The SpecialEffect Charity Set 2013


I received an email from my friends at SpecialEffect today, asking if I could help out getting some people backing their latest project, I, of course, immediately obliged but I think it's pretty unique what they are doing, as a charity and for this fundraising activity.

Now we're all familiar with your average charity fundraiser, generally involving sponsoring someone to take part in some unusual activity a marathon, skydive or perhaps having their hair shaved off. However SpecialEffect isn't your typical charity, their main focus is making video games accessible to as many people as possible.

They have achieved this through a variety of methods from rather simple solutions such as keeping a "loan library" of potentially expensive peripherals which make games more accessible, allowing beneficiaries to ensure the equipment works for them.

Through to much more complicated solutions such as their Eyegaze project which allows people with Motor Neurone Disease (MND, the condition which afflicts Professor Stephen Hawking) and other ailments which result in almost total paralysis to communicate, play games and generally engage much more readily in every day life.
This is made even better by their Stargaze extension project which loans this technology and the support necessary to use it to the people who arguably need it most, people who have only just discovered that they can no longer, speak or move a pen to write or indeed do anything to communicate with their family, friends and the world at large.

If you can't tell by now, I genuinely love the work this charity does, games get a terrible press a lot of the time so it is humbling to know that experts within my industry are working in such a ground breaking way to provide just a way of living to those who feel so isolated.

So that being said, I am further touched by this particular fundraising event which has seen the members of our rather talented and creative community donating their time to an ongoing revenue source that actually gives something in return for your money but I'll let them explain it to you...
Gamer's charity SpecialEffect are asking the industry and communities to vote for the inclusion of three charity Team Fortress 2 items in the game's online store.

If successful, the vote will see the items available online this summer, with 99% of the profits going to help disabled players enjoy games to the best of their abilities.

Votes for the items can be registered a the link below where people vote / rate by pressing the thumbs up button 
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=156361911

The idea is the brainchild of James Schall, SEGA's Director of Digital Distribution.

"Demand for SpecialEffect's help is rocketing," said James. "And I'm excited about the potential of these generous artwork donations to kickstart a big-hearted response from the TF2 community to help meet that demand."

The artists, Psyke, Svdl, Twilight Sparkle and Void, have designed a viewfinder, cabinet and belt pack with the charity's branding.

"It's a fantastic gesture," said charity CEO Mick Donegan. "Gamers get what we're trying to do, and to get that support from artists within the community is a real endorsement of our work."

"We need £750k this year to give people a fighting chance through specialised games control equipment. We're bringing this technology directly into the homes and hospitals of the people who need it most, and transforming the lives of people with the most severe disabilities through cutting-edge equipment like eye control and brain control"
On the face of it, it's a very simple activity -  getting some philanthropic artists to create some assets for you to sell and keeping the profit for the charity but apart from nice things it says about the nature of our industry and our willingness to help. It's a great long term way to build revenue, whilst a walk can raise a lot of money quite quickly once it's done, it's done. Gamers always want new things however and this should keep money trickling in for some time to come.

To read the comments on the Steam Workshop page for it, it's also clear to see that it has generated massive goodwill amongst the online community and brought much more awareness to the charity and it's work. With the package already the 2nd most popular collection of items for Team Fortress 2 and quite quickly closing the gap on #1. It's overall a very uplifting experience and I am very proud of the part I've played so far in supporting it.

As one commenter said
1ManWolfPack This is an amazing idea. I say that with the hop that more charities follow suit. (Looking at you Child's Play).

I really hope that more charities take this on and not necessarily just gaming charities, I do believe it's a rather inventive way of helping everyone and I am thoroughly convinced that gaming communities are very altruistic, for all of the scare stories on Reddit and such, there is so much good present when you are respectful in your approach. There are plenty of stories to back this up such as this one, where the creators of a game tackled piracy of their game in a non-orthodox but far more intelligent way.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that but if you have a Steam account please do jump on the Workshop and vote up the pack in question, I think it looks pretty neat anyway and it costs nothing to get it up for sale in the first place.

Finally, if you do like it why not support the creators of the pieces and check out their other projects here, may find some other things you like: