Posted on March 22, 2012, Phil Hornshaw How Mass Effect 3 Protesters Raised $80K for Charity
It’s not unfair to say a large number of the players of Mass Effect 3 aren’t happy with BioWare’s trilogy-capping RPG — and they’ve taken their grievances to the Internet.
Many are so frustrated with the ending of the game that they’ve organized what seems to be an unprecedented protest in the video game community. Letter-writing campaigns, petitions, forum posts, Photoshopped images, Twitter conversations, and even on-site organized protests are reportedly being used in hopes of convincing BioWare that the ending of Mass Effect 3 as delivered isn’t up to the standard of quality fans of the series, which has spanned five years, expected.
Easily the most remarkable protest to come out of the fan reaction – some would say movement – isn’t a protest at all, however. It’s a charity fundraiser created by passionate players from BioWare’s own Social Network forums. And already, it has already raised $80,000 for the charity Child’s Play.
“Bascially, we wanted to show that we were sincere, and passionate about the game, without just doing another online poll,” said BSN forum user Robb, 34, a computer programmer from Highlands Ranch, Colo., and one of the early supporters of the fundraiser. Robb asked that Game Front refrain from publishing his full name.
Child’s Play is a charity that uses video games and other media and items to “improve the lives of children in our network of hospital facilities worldwide,” said Jamie Dillion, the charity’s project manager. Child’s Play works with some 80 hospitals, providing what it calls “play therapy” resources – including games, movies and books.
Community at Work
Robb said that the fundraiser was an idea suggested by another poster on the BSN as a means of combatting the negative portrayal of players petitioning for BioWare to change the endings of Mass Effect 3; the idea was to take the organized energy of the fan base and put it into something positive.
At the time, already there had been huge fan outcry over the endings, as well as a wave of backlash – some civil, some not so civil – from both fans against BioWare, and the gaming press against those fans. A Facebook page and Twitter account were set up under the banner “Retake Mass Effect,” urging fans to organize to “Demand a better ending to Mass Effect 3.” That page has since garnered more than 51,000 Facebook “likes” as of this writing and has pushed into multiple additional languages. It has been a central hub of organizing protests such as letter-writing campaigns and petition drives.
Since Robb created the ChipIn page on March 12, the fundraiser has garnered $80,000 in donations (and still growing as of this writing). He said the original cap was $1,000. Child’s Play endorses using ChipIn, which allows anyone to create a fundraiser that sends money directly to the charity; it isn’t taking sides in the Mass Effect 3 controversy, though, and Dillion said she wasn’t aware of the Retake fundraiser when contacted by Game Front. Child’s Play isn’t affiliated in any way with the fundraiser other than through the use of ChipIn.
But while the fundraiser was originally born of a desire to create positive attention for the Mass Effect 3 ending movement, several of its early supporters have said that the overwhelming success of the fundraiser has turned the attention to doing as much good as possible with the energy the controversy has created.
“Once we got about 50 people and $1000, word spread like wild fire,” said Cameron Fullerton, 25, a psychology student in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Fullerton was the first to voice the idea of giving to a charity, and has since become something of a cheerleader among the larger Retake charity drive community. “We are also hoping of course that even if Bioware doesn’t change the endings, they might be motivated to match our donations. And, we are hoping by the end of the month to hit $100,000.”