Earlier this month War Child, a charity focused on caring for children affected by conflict, announced it was launching GameOn, a hub to share and publicise its gaming-related fundraising activity, a showcase for all its partners' work.
"It is a place for studios, developers, publishers, writers, Youtube Creators, Twitch streamers and general gamers to get involved with War Child and support children affected by conflict," War Child's gaming manager, Wayne Emanuel, told me over email. "War Child is encouraging members of the gaming industry to access the GameOn hub and share new ideas, put on events, or create gaming packages. Funds raised by new projects will help to change the lives of thousands of the world’s most disadvantaged children."
War Child has been partnering with people within the games industry for over a decade now, first running a campaign with Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson back in 2006. In the past, I've spoken to Cliff Harris about how charities are often wary to be associated with video games, yet War Child has been actively embracing the industry for years, a relationship which has proven extremely valuable to the organisation, raising more than £2 million for its various projects.
Originally, it was Jacobson who reached out to the charity but, since then, it has been more proactive, contacting developers like Positech Games, iNK Stories, and BlackMill Games. Perhaps the best fit for the charity has been 11bit studios, the makers of This War of Mine.
"It was clear that the gaming industry presented a unique opportunity to directly engage with a diverse audience raising awareness of the impact of conflict on children," explained Emmanuel. "The gaming industry presents a unique opportunity to engage directly a huge potential audience with the vital issue of the impact of conflict on children.
"We regularly partner with the entertainment industry which involves working with summer festivals and The BRIT Awards among others. The gaming industry offers more innovative ways to raise funds in creative ways which engage fans; having launched various gaming projects already, we wanted a place to showcase them alongside new projects," said Emmanuel. An example of this is War Child Armistice, a recent campaign where developers altered their games to draw attention to the impact of war. The makers of Verdun, for instance, altered their World War 1 shooter to recreate the famous 1914 Christmas Day Truce, where British and German soldiers downed arms for the day to play a game of football.
War Child has used the launch of GameOn to contact a great many new developers. Emmanuel told me how the organisation has "reach[ed] out to those who have had a massive impact in the industry such as Randy Pitchford, Tim Schafer, Rhianna Pratchett and others, to help amplify War Child’s message. We want to continually add more impactful personalities to the roster to increase our reach and help to change the lives of thousands of the world’s most disadvantaged children."
"We created GameOn as a platform for the industry and gamers to find out about all of our gaming projects and to act as a place where they can get in touch with innovative ideas on how to support War Child’s work supporting children affected by conflict."