EA brings charity to consoles

Gamers get a bum rap as couch-bound, anti-social loners who spend all their time blasting virtual opponents to smithereens. Of course, anyone with even a passing knowledge of modern gaming knows that it’s a tight-knit, passionate community that, far from being anti-social, gathers at huge  fan events such as Penny Arcade Expo, where vast amounts of money are raised for the Child’s Play charity, which delivers video games to sick children.

Now Electronic Arts is bringing its substantial fan base to charitable works, with a twist. The gaming behemoth has created contests within its NHL ’09 franchise that allow gamers who can raise $100 to play in tournaments on Xbox Live. The player with the highest score who is able to raise over $500 also gets his or her face in NHL ’10. In addition to the online contests, held from October to December, EA also sponsored a live event at their Burnaby campus. While the online contest raised $3,500, the offline contest raised over $20,000.

So what does this entail for further online charity drives? Only that it’s a relatively untested format, and will likely grow as more gamers and other niche enthusiasts become comfortable with the idea of contributing to a charity without haveing to leave the couch.