How Mass Effect 3 Protesters Raised $80K for Charity

“Just chipped in some goddamn dollars”

Both Robb and Fullerton were quick to note that the Retake fundraiser is a huge community effort, and while they and a few others had a hand in pushing it off the cliff, the larger group on the BSN forums has made it fly.

Among those who found a different way to contribute was Chris Ballard, 26, a student from Rio Ranchero, New Mexico. Ballard, who said she enjoys “casually” making images in Photoshop, applied that skill to making images and posters for the Retake charity drive and the movement at large; one of which can be seen above.

“Among the threads (on the BSN), I saw one suggesting the creation of the charity drive, and I thought it was interesting — I’d never seen a charity drive spawned by protest, to a video game or otherwise, before,” Ballard said. “So I started looking into it, and thought, ‘Hey, y’know, this is a really good idea. This is going to get noticed, and besides, even if nothing changes, at least someone will get some good out of it.’ So I looked into it more, and while I was reading through the first pages — all that was there at the time — I saw that they were talking about getting a ChipIn thing set up for it, but needed some kind of mascot or poster.”

Since March 12, Ballard has created a number of images, as have several other members of the Retake community contributing to the fundraiser thread on the BioWare Social Network. Another contributor, Anna Mikl, 21, of Vienna, Austria, began creating merchandise using an image of “Marauder Shields,” a meme character that has cropped up in relation to the Mass Effect 3 ending backlash.

Riffing on the “Hope” image used in the U.S. presidential campaign of Barrack Obama, Mikl has created T-shirts and posters through Redbubble. The profits for the shirts – about 20 percent of the price – are going to Child’s Play, Mikl said.

“I saw a rather nice article about similar posters and designs and thought that this would be a perfect moment to try something similar, to boost morale, sort of,” Mikl said. “I didn’t think too much of it, till i saw that a lot of people were asking for T-Shirts or Posters. I don’t really like making profit of such things, especially during such times, so the Retake Fundraiser seemed like a pretty good idea to not only support the movement but make a few people happy and donate to charity.”

‘Emotional Blackmail’

Despite an overwhelmingly positive response among the community of players sharing their issues with Mass Effect 3’s ending, the Child’s Play charity drive has drawn a lot controversy in and of itself. Some have seen the movement as an attempt to use “emotional blackmail” against BioWare – that by not meeting the demands of the players who make up the Retake group, BioWare is turning its back on the charity they support.

Some others have claimed, on Twitter and elsewhere, that the community is using sick children in hopes of meeting their goals.

That viewpoint has led to some mischaracterizations of the movement in the press, in fact. It was reported several times in the week after the fundraiser was started the members of Retake facilitating it meant to hold the money back if BioWare didn’t acquiesce to their demands.

That’s false, however.

“ChipIn allows fundraisers to track their funds, but the money goes directly to our (Child’s Play’s) Paypal account,” Dillion said. She also noted that she could not verify that funds from the Redbubble merchandise went to Child’s Play because the direct PayPal account wasn’t being used, but Redbubble does allow for profits to be passed along to charities after it takes its cut.

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13 Comments on How Mass Effect 3 Protesters Raised $80K for Charity


On March 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Leave it up to clods like Colin Moriarty and Gamespot’s dopes to claim that giving to charity was a BAD thing. They are holding their own line because they got called out on their bogus game reviews and need to keep their cedibility as an objective game publication. IGN/Gamespot, etc do not appear to be completely objective in my opinion. I may be wrong…


On March 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I’m mostly surprised by the gaming press manifestation on this matter. I used to often follow GameInformer articles, but yesterday they posted a feature that got me done with them. Of course some people are going to be completely satisfied with the ending, but mock the other fans like they are just being whiners for wanting a coherent closure it’s the worst reaction possible to all of this. I’m glad GameFront it’s being reasonable as possible and being capable of fully understanding the fans.
For those who haven’t seen it yet:

Jim P

On March 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Not sure if my last comment took or not, so I apologize if this is a double-post. Anyway, another great article that shows the generosity of a fanbase that is accused of being, “entitled.” I agree with Docmeff too, that an interesting aspect to this story is how so many in the mainstream are quick to mischaracterize and discredit the fans in this controversy. I think it’s fair to ask whether or not IGN, Gamestop and others are just covering their tracks after failing to include any real analaysis of the controversial ending to ME3 in their reviews of the game.

Conn Cooney

On March 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

The charity was organised to show that us fans were to be taken seriously. It has worked to some degree but this whole situation has left deep divides between the gaming community. Reviewers are being questioned on their moral integrity, Developers are trying to defend their “artwork” which is understandable. But the whole notion of mass effect was to make it your own story. So how can they not understand that their version of the ending was simply not good enough for the 5 year emotional journey of money and time by legions of dedicated fans. We only want an ending that makes sense and wraps things up. We only do it because we care!

Tali (@Locolobo_2)

On March 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm

@Conn ey
YEAH! Seriously, if we didn’t care so much about the series, why would we be “wasting our time” with this? I’m at least not doing it necessarily for my benefit.. I want the ENTIRE Mass Effect franchise (not just most of it minus the ending) to go down in history as one of the greatest sci-fi epics ever created.. It’d be like this generation’s Star Wars.
But seriously, those people who think this charity is a bad thing, and think we’re only doing it for our benefit.. C’mon, really? haha And even if some are doing it for their own benefit, the kids are still the ones really benefiting from it the most. Despite those who want to chip away at strongly bonded line, we will continue to hold the line as before.


On March 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hey Phil, thanks for the great article! I just want to give you a heads up that the Charity is being capped off at $80,000 as Child’s Play was apparently receiving hate mail and was being inaccurately portrayed by media sources as supporting the group. Check out the first post in this thread for more details:


On March 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

It’s a damned shame that some folk are so vehemently against Retake that they’d direct hatemail towards a charity dedicated to helping children in an effort to oppose them.


On March 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm

It makes me SICK that people sent HATE MAIL to a charity because they disagreed with a community of people who were making huge donations to that charity. What kind of inhuman monsters are those people? They should be ashamed of themselves!


On March 23, 2012 at 12:42 am

Great idea. The money should be given to the charity only on the condition that it is not used to pay for anything from Bioware. After all what would be the point?

Anyway, it is already damn brilliantly clear that whatever Bioware does with ME is definitely going to stink to Reaper high heaven already. I’ll be reading about it. (ONLY reading about it).

We are getting the entertainment promised after all. Touché.


On March 23, 2012 at 2:03 am

So, which parts of the gamer press pressured the charity into asking the movement to wrap up their donation drive? Who was sending a charity hatemail because they didn’t like what some ME3 fans are choosing to do with their money? Anyone? No? No-0one willing to admit it was them??


On March 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

Thanks IGN, for cheating Child’s Play out of another 19 days of donations. If I were a “journalist” at IGN, I don’t think I could look at myself in the mirror after this. I hope they’re proud of themselves.


On March 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I find it interesting that the announcement by Penny Arcade (founders of Child’s Play) had an ad for TOR in front of the announcement to stop their partnership with Retake ME


On March 26, 2012 at 12:52 am

I think people may be interested in hearing some unmentioned details concerning how the charity was ended. And perhaps any other organization backing ME3′s ending change will improve their PR management if they know these issues ahead of time.

Don’t look any further than Penny Arcade’s own beliefs and interests for why they shut down the charity chip in from ME3 retake. Some people made charities just for their own business’ PR status. Whether Child’s Play was originally designed to give better PR to gamers and make them look less violent or not is really immaterial. ME3 Retake was perhaps edging too close to “taking over” a charity Penny Arcade saw as their own personal fiefdom and asset. That is it. EA, Bioware, none of those things need to enter the picture.