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Games industry should do more for charity - Harris

Democracy 3 developer hoping "to shame some bigger companies" by donating 12 days of sales to War Child

Positech Games is donating all of the revenue it earns from Steam sales of Democracy 3 over the course of 12 days to the charity War Child. As Positech's Cliff Harris told Kotaku UK, the motivation for the move was partly to improve the lives of children in war-torn parts of the world, and partly because "I thought it might be a good way to shame some bigger companies."

Harris had seen a previous War Child promotion where developers created an original title for the charity over a short period of time, but felt it would be both simpler and more effective to donate revenues of an existing successful game.

"If I knock up some crappy game at the weekend and say 'Have that,' that's one thing," Harris said. "But I'd like to think somewhere on some message board somewhere, there's someone going, 'Why don't EA do this for 12 days?' That would make a staggering amount of money."

Harris would also like to see more indie developers embrace philanthropy, particularly the established ones.

"There's a whole swathe of indie developers that got lucky and suddenly made tens of millions of dollars and I'd like to think that they should do some good stuff with it," Harris said. "You can buy a nice car, PC, or house but some of these people are in their twenties and have made £10 million from their video game and you just think 'Give one per cent away to charity for fuck's sake.'"

(Coincidentally, as Harris was launching the Democracy 3 promotion, more than 100 indie developers had banded together to offer an charity bundle of 151 games including titles like Gone Home, Read Only Memories, and Proteus for any donation of at least $20, with proceeds split between the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.)

Harris also suggested developers look outside their immediate lives for worthy recipients of their generosity. The money that wealthy people donate to the wealthy schools in their wealthy neighborhoods doesn't make as much of a difference as it could if it were directed to areas of real need. For example, Harris donated £18,000 to build a primary school in Cameroon.

"It's crazy but people don't think like that," Harris said. "It's one of my pet hates that if you read about someone famous who says they support a charity and they're asked why and it's always that their father had it or their brother had it or people in their local community are affected by it. I think that is why people in the developing world struggle, because we don't see them every day. I've never been to Cameroon, I've never even been to Africa but I like to think rationally. Am I just going to donate to something because I heard about it in the pub, or am I going to think I can do some good here? Where does my money go furthest?"

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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