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Celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Through Gaming

Of course all engagement in Extra Life proves powerful in promoting kindness! However, we wanted to recommend one particular random act of kindness; make anonymous donations to your friends who also participate in Extra Life. Perhaps you set a giving budget of $50 and chose ten friends to give $5 to each, all anonymously. Not only will you promote healing for sick and injured kids, you’ll also infuse fresh energy into their fundraising efforts.

We’ve also noticed a trend on social media called $5 Friday. Extra Lifers put out a social media call like this: “Hey Extra Lifers, send me your participant pages and I’ll pick someone randomly to donate $5 to.”

Our Favorite Games that Promote Kindness

Games have been tapping into kindness for years. You can see the power of empathy and compassion in both solo and multiplayer games. The success of titles like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing aren’t an accident or a fluke, their foundations are built on something people crave in their entertainment: Kindness.

This spirit of cooperation and unity can be found most prominently in the genre that brings the most people together: MMOs. It’s common for strangers to gift new players with new sets of armor, weapons, money, or advice to help them get started. These presents are freely given, and many players never encounter their mysterious benefactors ever again. However, players often remember their stories.

MJ Guthrie, the community manager for the MMO gaming site Massivly OP, related a story from the days when Aion was a popular MMO. As a low-level player, MJ encountered a player from an enemy faction who had invaded. “I was sure I was going to die,” she recounted. “Instead, this Asmo set up a shop (there is no cross-faction chat but to get around it you could set up shop and type messages into your store banner that showed) and assured me he wouldn’t bother me — he was there for gathering and wasn’t interested in ganking a lowbie. Now, if a higher level came around he was going to be all for it.” The two of them continued to talk for a while, two enemies keeping their weapons sheathed. “It was a very pleasant exchange. But what struck me even more was that when another higher-level Asmo came through and was about to trounce me, this first Asmo, who went silent for a minute, came back to say via store he spoke with the other and asked him to leave me alone pointing out that it would be far from a fair fight. And the newcomer agreed.” Those two higher-level players didn’t have to spare Guthrie, but they stayed their hands in the name of fairness and camaraderie.

In response to a request for the MMO community to submit stories about memorable acts of kindness players experienced in games, MeltWithYou related an event that happened to him in the original Dark Souls. “I was slowly working my way through my first playthrough, I was sooo very close to the next bonfire and someone popped into my game…” he recalled. In Dark Souls, being invaded by another player is often the beginning of a life-or-death struggle against a human foe who could be anywhere in the current level. New players like MeltWithYou are especially vulnerable to surprise attacks. “As I was mentally prepping for an ambush, I slowly creeped around a corner and there they were, standing there in the middle of the path, completely decked out in high-end gear (way better than mine at least). I thought to myself, ‘this is it, an hour or two wasted, I’m going to get my ass kicked.’”

Dying in Dark Souls puts you back at the previous bonfire you’ve visited, so being killed after struggling through a new area can feel especially gut-wrenching. Encountering a high level player should be a death sentence, but…. “I just stood there, staring. They stood there, staring back… like a samurai showdown. After 20-30 seconds, they waved at me. Surprised, I waved back. Then we started emoting back and forth to each other for a minute or two, I was laughing my ass off…. Then they bowed and gave me a set of high-end armor, waved, then vanished. […] That set is still sitting in my inventory, still to this day.”

One of the games that harnessed kindness and distilled it perfectly was the game Journey on the PlayStation 3. The 2012 title from Thatgamecompany put players in the shoes of a wandering, bescarved figure struggling to get to a distant mountaintop. Players made their way through ancient ruins and snuck past ancient machinery to reach their eventual destination, all rendered beautifully against an orchestrated score that evoked all kinds of specific emotions. The shining heart of Journey, though, was the way players could encounter other wanderers in their games. These chance encounters in an otherwise lonely world evoked companionship, with players slowly guiding one another through the dangers and puzzles. Occasionally, more experienced players would even be able to show new players where to find upgrades during a full playthrough together. Other times, players did what they could before fading into the distance. Whatever the interaction, though, everyone in Journey lifted one another up.

Life can be hard sometimes, but kindness makes it just a little easier.

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!