Gamers in Action: Charity Gaming

Curator's Note

On June 20, 2019, during the final minutes of a Chrono Trigger speedrun, a massive record was set. Over $3 million was raised for Doctors Without Borders by the charity marathon Games Done Quick. Since 2010 Games Done Quick has held charity marathon events where gamers have streamed speedruns of various video games in an effort to raise money for a variety of charities, now totaling over $22 million across 24 marathons with the amount raised per marathon growing steadily.

Games Done Quick is not alone in connecting gamers with charities, however, with numerous individual gamers across Twitch and YouTube, such as Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins and Jacksepticeye, and other major events and groups, such as Extra Life, turning their attention towards leveraging the massive game streaming audiences to action. Viewers are often encouraged to donate via numerous tactics, including getting streamers to take on extra or more difficult challenges in the game, naming characters or making decisions for large donations, picking the next game to be played, or turning the donations into a competition which is closely followed and goaded forward by the streamer. Though some of these tactics rely on an interest or attachment to the game currently being played, many of these tactics actually rely on the social and community feeling and engagement that lies at the heart of streaming, with viewers rallying together to push toward the shared goal of either raising a specific amount of money, or simply creating change as a community.1

The ability to effectively leverage communities towards action has been recognized not just by the communities themselves, but by charities, platforms, and developers. Non-profits such as St. Jude and Make-A-Wish have created webpages dedicated to helping streamers arrange charity streams, as well as outlining the content that they are most comfortable with being associated with. Advice for growing non-profits often includes mention of streaming and social media-centric fundraising as important, if not vital avenues of donation. Streaming services have begun experimenting with specialized streaming modes for charity streams as well as working with the creation of tools, apps, and extensions that make it as straightforward as possible for viewers to donate and streamers to make sure the money is making it to the proper charity. Advancements in these areas have, in recent years, been considered important enough by platforms included in major announcements and events, such as the Tiltify for Twitch Extension’s debut on Twitch’s Developer Day.


Hilvert-Bruce, Zorah, James T. Neill, Max Sjöblom, and Juho Hamari. "Social Motivations of Live-streaming Viewer Engagement on Twitch." Computers in Human Behavior 84 (2018): 58-67. 

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