Game Developers & NPOs

I finally put thought and words to something nagging me for the past two years. With my work in founding and working on Ümloud! and a new video game non-profit project (I’ll post later), I’ve worked with a number of people in different aspects of the video game industry. Lots of journalists, lots of PR personal, and lots of people not working in the biz. Yet in the two years I’ve worked in the game related non profit world, I find myself with very few contacts from actual game developers. Which leads me to state:

Very few game developers work with non-profit organizations (NPOs).

As with any overly broad statement, there’s nuance here. I’m setting the bar to beyond monetary donation, but committed infrastructure involvement. I don’t have hard facts to prove or disprove this statement; Believe me, I wish I had hard facts. There are some developers who do great NPO work out there, some even volunteer with Ümloud!, whom do count and are doing good things.

What is clear to me is an overall lack of willingness from developers to work on NPOs. I’m trying to figure out is why I’m the only developer involved with these projects. Of the Child’s Play community organized events I know of, I can’t think of any developer that’s founded any (please tell me if I’m missing something). I see involvement on a corporation level, which is awesome, but I’m trying to find individuals acting on their own. I should not that I’m not limiting the argument to only Child’s Play, that’s just where I’ve done my research through the years.

One could say that development life is too demanding. To that I say bullocks. The first Ümloud! event was done in 8 weeks for both event and organizational setup while I was build engineer at Telltale Games. A crunch mode in the NPO and perpetual crunch mode as my game dev job. This earns me the right to say this argument doesn’t hold weight. If there’s a cause you believe in, I can’t buy the argument that you’re too busy for it. Nor does that argument hold with others who also have jobs and lives to live and still work for NPOs.

I don’t know why I’m the only game developer I know that works on NPOs. I don’t want to be the only person. Seriously, it’s bloody lonely doing this work. It’s frustrating when I try to get the game community together to work on these projects, the community that gathers contains very few game developers. I’m trying to demand better for my fellow artists in the game industry. I want this to change, but I don’t know what do so differently. The only thing I can think of doing differently is saying:

Get involved with something!

2 responses to “Game Developers & NPOs”

  1. I am seriously thinking of starting an NPO to produce an MMO whith a contract to be given to the public domain after a certain time. The idea is to get donations from the public to pay artists and programmers in order to produce a wide reaching product. I really think this can happen and would give a few artists and programmers out there a means to get a salary and do something they love, while creating a community project that will eventually benifit everyone involved and not be owned by coporate interests. If you think this is even possible I would like to hear back from you, just post a comment here and I will check back. I have this page bookmarked. I am in the process of trying to come up with a business plan and a means to get some initial funding. I have not the skills myself to produce a game. But am very familiar with games and somewhat familiar with the industry. If something like this was able to take off and get a solid revenue from donations it could be used to do incredible things for developers and artists with the skills to produce free games for the people, that the people own, instead of investers and stockmarket entities =)

    • Hmmm I did quite a bit more research, and it seems the only reason to do this kind of thing would be to try to acheive tax exempt status. I don’t think its the route that I would actually wan’t to take with this kind of project. I would still do all the things I would say and be charitble, but doing it under a 503c doesn’t seem like a smart idea for a self sustaining free-enterprise model business. Thanks for your time if you took the time to read all that.