Retake Mass Effect Fundraiser: Why Child’s Play Shut it Down
A Frustrated Community
The result echoes much of the criticism the fundraiser has been receiving since its inception, with backlash ranging from claims that charitable giving should exist for its own sake, to the accusation that RME fundraiser supporters were attempting to use “emotional blackmail” against BioWare to meet their agenda.
But from the point of view of the community involved, the RME fundraiser was more about taking negative energy and turning it into some positive action, and many are disappointed it was shut down, or that it prompted so much negative reaction.
“I am in awe of the scope this effort has grown to,” Robb told Game Front. “The overwhelming majority of the response has been positive, and I think that everyone who donated did so not just because they love Mass Effect but because they love what Child’s Play does. This has been a great experience because of the great community that has built up around it and what we were able to achieve.”
Shutting down the fundraiser initially threw the group mostly supporting it, which has been populating a forum thread on the BioWare Social Network, into disarray. Some were upset that what they saw as backlash and incorrect reporting from the press effectively killed a fundraiser that had drawn a lot of generosity and done a lot of good. Many of the reactions on the thread were emotional, and some suggested that it was pressure from Electronic Arts, BioWare, or even members of the gaming press such as IGN, that caused Child’s Play to cave under pressure.
In her statement on Reddit, Dillion said that Child’s Play had not succumbed to pressure.
“While we did receive some negative mail regarding the drive, I can assure you our decision was not about bowing to pressure from anyone — corporate, individual, or otherwise,” Dillion wrote. “The real concern on our end was the slippery slope that attaching causes to fundraising for Child’s Play can create. While RME had the best of intentions and was overwhelmingly generous, it shed light on an issue that we needed to address.”
There also have been some reports of donors asking for refunds from Child’s Play, which Holkins mentioned in his post. Game Front has reached out to Child’s Play for additional information and clarity on whether the charity was contacted by BioWare, EA or anyone else in the industry over the fundraiser, and regarding any refunds, but has not received an answer as of this writing.
However, Cameron Fullerton, 25, a psychology student in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, said he believed that if donors were asking for their money back, they weren’t members of the community that surrounded the fundraiser.
“It’s not a wide spread reaction,” he said, noting that some members mentioned refunds in the BSN thread, but that by the next morning when emotions had cooled, the matter was dropped. “No one here ever wanted a refund. We were doing this for the RME movement, sure, but we also did it because it was right and it made us feel proud. No one can take that away.”
‘Angry, Saddened, Depressed’
Though emotions were high among community members after learning the fundraiser was being ended, most have remained positive through the experience.
“The mood of the forums was angry, saddened and depressed,” said Fullerton, one of the long-running BSN community members who originally suggested a fundraiser as part of the movement. “People felt hopeless for the first time in weeks, like everything we’d done was for nothing. There were people demanding refunds at first. Thankfully, we have some real cool heads in the ‘leadership’ of the movement that helped calm people down. The mood is once again hopeful, understanding of Child’s Play, and already new ideas are being thrown around.”
Though some reports claim the Retake campaign is “winding down,” members both of the Retake fundraiser community and involved with the (loosely affiliated but not really related) Retake Mass Effect Facebook page are discussing what will come next. The community surrounding the fundraiser is considering raising money for other charities, or keeping clear of charity to avoid the same issues that occurred with Child’s Play and starting contests that could positively involve members of the Mass Effect 3 discussion community.
They also are loosely planning to start an annual Child’s Play fundraiser not tied to Mass Effect 3 or any other movement — but based primarily on the community that has come together as a result of the Mass Effect 3 ending discussion.
“People can bash all they want but we did something good,” Fullerton said. “Children now get $80,000 more toys, games and books. Hard to see that as ‘bad.’”
- Find the Retake Mass Effect fundraiser’s ChipIn page here.
- Read Jerry “Tycho” Holkins’ complete blog post at Penny Arcade.
- Read Child’s Play Program Director Jamie Dillion’s complete Reddit post here.
- Read the BioWare Social Network forum thread dedicated to the Retake Mass Effect fundraiser here.
- Visit the Retake Mass Effect Facebook page here.
- Read Game Front’s feature on the Retake Mass Effect fundraiser, “How Mass Effect 3 Protesters Raised $80K for Charity.”
- Follow Phil Hornshaw and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.