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Gaming for a good cause

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Logo for Child's Play

Extra Life logo

Logo for Extra Life

Like playing video games? How about helping sick kids? Do I have a cause for you.

On Oct. 20, gamers from across the country will be helping contribute to Extra Life, a charity that helps benefit children's hospitals. Since 2008, Extra Life has gathered gamers together to raise money for children's hospitals through a yearly 24-hour gaming marathon.

Similar to other charity events, gamers collect pledges for Extra Life from friends and family. All Extra Life proceeds go to local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, such as the Shodair Children's Hospital in Helena.

Extra Life may happen only once a year, but several other video game-related charities exist for gamers looking to donate to a good cause year-round.

Arguably the most prominent game-related charity is Child's Play, founded by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, authors of popular video game webcomic Penny Arcade. Child's Play helps provide hospitals with toys, video games, books and "other fun stuff for kids," according to the charity's website. Since its inception in 2003, Child's Play has raised over $12 million for hospitals worldwide.

Child's Play has an active community, hosting a charity dinner and auction every year that features prominent swag from geek-friendly artists, as well as a charity golf tournament. Child's Play also allows donors to set up an event through the charity's website, letting even smalltime operations help its cause.

For those looking to contribute to education, the Entertainment Software Associate Foundation helps give out thousands of dollars in scholarships every year to students pursuing degrees that lead to careers in game development. The ESA Foundation also awards grants to various organizations that further science, education and health, such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Inspire USA Foundation.

Lastly, gamers looking to donate to charity while receiving an extra incentive in return should keep an eye out for the Humble Indie Bundle. The Humble Bundle groups highly-rated indie games into one package and gives them to gamers who donate. Proceeds go to both Child's Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties related to computing and telecommunications.

The Humble Bundle doesn't require a minimum donation, but often has tiered rewards based on how much is given. For example, the Bundle may include a game soundtrack for a certain level of donation or even another three or four games. Past Bundle games have included Bastion and Super Meat Boy, and the latest Bundle came with Torchlight and Bit.Trip Runner.

Game-related charities like Extra Life, Child's Play and the ESA Foundation give gamers an avenue to help make the world a better place. Giving to a good cause was never so much fun.

© 2015 Bozeman Daily Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Andrew Testerman

Local Columnist

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