Retake Mass Effect Fundraiser: Why Child’s Play Shut it Down
Just hours before the Retake Mass Effect 3 community’s fundraiser for Child’s Play hit $80,000 in donations, the fundraiser was beginning to draw to a close.
“I was contacted by a representative of Child’s Play and informed that there were beginning to be negative repercussions of using the charity as a form of protest,” Robb, a computer programmer from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and the creator of the fundraiser’s ChipIn page, told Game Front in an email. He asked that his last name not be published.
“In particular, some people who are against the Retake ME effort have written hate mail to the charity, accusing them of supporting our petition directly. (The Child’s Play representative) pointed out, and I agreed, that was a dangerous precedent to set with regard to other potential protests in the future. He was very appreciative of the incredible level of donations we were able to generate, but he very politely asked that I draw the donation drive to a close.”
Robb said he set an end cap on the fundraiser of $80,000, which was reached easily on Thursday evening; the end total raised was $80,240.
It seems that a combination of unprecedented circumstances and misinformation led to the ending of the Retake fundraiser, despite the fact that it was intended to run until April 11. By all accounts, the fundraiser has been incredibly successful, reaching the $80,000 cap in just 11 days. Members of the community responsible for the fundraiser said it gained better than $20,000 in its first 24 hours.
But backlash to the fundraiser has been almost as intense as the positive response in terms of donations. Child’s Play Project Manager Jamie Dillion said in a post on Reddit that the charity was inundated with messages regarding the movement, ranging from general inquiry to intense anger.
“For the past week or so, we’ve received quite a bit of email regarding the fundraiser,” Dillion wrote. “It ranged from those wanting to verify the legitimacy of the fundraiser (something we’re always happy to discuss!), accusing us of capitalizing on the emotions of fans, appreciation for allowing the group to unite under a positive cause — it ran the gamut in terms of sentiments.”
Confusion and Misinformation
There also seemed to be a great deal of confusion as to what Child’s Play’s role was with the fundraiser and the greater Retake Mass Effect community and movement; some donors reportedly even thought they were actually fundraising to get new endings made to Mass Effect 3. In fact, Child’s Play was never involved with any part of the RME community, except to receive money from the fundraiser. When Game Front contacted Dillion earlier this week regarding the fundraiser, she said she was unaware of it.
That’s because Child’s Play allows anyone to set up a fundraiser to donate to it, without the charity actually being involved. Using ChipIn, as the RME fundraiser did, users can set goals and track their giving, and all the money donated is funneled straight to Child’s Play’s dedicated PayPal account. But Child’s Play doesn’t have anything to do with the people who set up the fundraiser or why they set it up, or with the fundraiser’s administration. Simply put, the charity is merely on the receiving end of a pipe.
Still, Child’s Play’s lack of involvement with the Retake movement has been misrepresented and misreported in a number of places across the Internet. The appearance that Child’s Play supports an effort to change Mass Effect 3′s ending seems to have spurred powerful backlash.
Child’s Play is also in a position it has never faced, as Penny Arcade’s Jerry “Tycho” Holkins, one of the founders of the charity, pointed out in a blog post on PA’s website. Up until now, a situation like RME’s has never come up, in which the charity was tied to something decidedly political.
“This is a passionate community that formed around one thing, and some of that passion was expressed in charitable giving,” Holkins wrote. “I actually support this cause, but I am a pessimist, and I’m thinking about the next time something like this happens – when someone attaches Child’s Play to something we can’t get behind, or leverages your history of generosity and fellow feeling for their own weird bull—-. So, we need to have something like a policy on this.
“This is the best way I can think to say it: Child’s Play cannot be a tool to draw attention to a cause. Child’s Play must be the Cause.”