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Friday, December 16, 2005

Maybe a more efficient use of my time would be to just put up a post saying "Flame Me"

Ok, I really wasn't going to talk about this, but when I see people taking wholly black and white stances on topics, I can't resist throwing my two cents in.

I'm referring here to a recent debate on Websnark (which has also surfaced to a lesser extent on some other sites) about Penny Arcade's Charity dinner. In summary, Penny Arcade announced they made 82,100 dollars at a charity auction dinner. Burns lauded them for it. Some people called into question the motives behind Penny Arcade's actions. Flame wars ensued.

Let's start with the first debatable point: It doesn't matter what the PA guys' motivations were, eighty-two thousand dollars were raised for charity, and that can't be bad. In Burns' own words: "with hundreds of thousands of dollars going to make the days of sick children better, I don't care if they started this thing on a bet made with whores to score crack and buttsex." And while I agree that money given to charity is always a good thing for the charity, and for the public as a whole (assuming the charity does something meaningful), it does not mean that the person giving the money is necessarily a good person.

For example, let's take a look at the case with Jack Thompson. Jack says "make this crazy game and I'll give $10,000 to charity." Well, someone makes what could be considered at least a reasonable approximation of the proposed game, and Jack refuses to acknowledge it. So the PA guys donate the $10,000 instead.

Now, let's consider the motivations behind the donation. Did Gabe and Mike get up one day and say: "let's do something good for the community. Let's give money to charity"? NO. They said: "Hey we can really make Jack Thompson look bad here and make ourselves look good by giving to charity." So they did. This wasn't an act of "charity", so to speak. It was a very calculated political move. And it definitely doesn't make them any kind of saints.

Now let's look at Child's Play. What are the motivations behind it? On the Child's Play website they spell it out: "We set it up because we were angry the media decided to blame all the world’s problems on games and gamers. Basically they said that gamers were bad people, and we thought that wasn’t right." Again, this is a political movement. Through their charity work they are trying to change the public's perception of gamers.

And by the way, if they do have a different motivation, as so many people claim they do, they ought to, you know, post it on their website. Much better copy than what they currently have up would be something like: "The goal of Child's Play is to help make sick kids lives better. We know that although the media tries to paint gamers and a violent mob, you are actually very caring individuals. So let's make a difference in kids lives."

So my point is that simply giving money to charity does not make a person a saint.

However, there are more factors to be considered. Because, you see, Gabe and Mike don't just give money to Child's Play. They are Child's Play, essentially. They do all the behind the scenes stuff. They set up these charity dinners and auctions. They find corporate sponsors. They fnid hospitals to partner with. They advertise, they network, they work hard. This sort of effort cannot be compared to the "Jack Thompson spite", the entirety of which involved the amount of time it takes to write a check. Additionally, Child's Play (presumably) meets a need which was not being met by any other charity organization. If Child's Play didn't exist, the distibution of gaming systems to sick children quite simply would not happen, and that is laudable in and of itself. They don't just give, they work. And they work hard. And that is laudable. The Penny Arcade guys should be praised for this.

So in summary: Penny Arcade raising $82,100 for charity doesn't make them anything special. Penny Arcade displaying a massive amount of dedication and hard work in order to raise that $82,100 is. Credit should be given where credit is due.


At 6:46 PM, Blogger tedzsee said...

William G said pretty much the same thing (except for the second half) and ended up getting slaughtered with flamers.

Mind you, he was somewhat more crude about it.

At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that no one is calling them saints. I've never called them a saint, and I promote the shit out of both Child's Play and their webcomic. I can't speak for everyone of course, but I strongly believe no one is explicitly calling them saints.

You're right, though. The effort and the work itself is the bit that's praiseworthy. But they've got to be good people, if not saints, to be willing to organize and work for this charity.

I think it all started when someone accused someone else of calling them saints metaphorically, then others took that literally, and then the snowball.

You can love 'em or hate 'em. We need to keep in mind, however, that Child's Play is only something they lead. We give them the mad props as leaders. The true effort came from all of us who pitched in and promoted and worked for the cause. Child's Play is a group effort above all else. But they get credit for being good leaders through it all.


-Phil Kahn

(not logged in because I'm away from my home machine and I forgot my goddamned password)


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