4 ways video game companies are giving back to communities, and how you can too

(BPT) - The video game industry is often known for its high-quality games and the hours of entertainment it provides its community and players - but engaged, modern, video game studios accomplish more than that. Many studios in the video game space are improving their local communities, providing incredible opportunities through educational and philanthropic initiatives and making space for their players to give back.

One Texas-based example is Gearbox Entertainment, which recently announced Gearbox Gives - an effort to harness the power of entertainment to educate communities and future creatives, inspire change, and create programs and initiatives that help solve problems around the world.

These initiatives are more than just a promise, they are programs moving beyond entertainment to give back to the greater good. Gearbox's Borderlands Science is one example of how companies, and their communities, are giving back. This mini-game within the critically acclaimed Borderlands 3 video game helps map the human gut microbiome, which is benefiting the real-world scientific community. Players have already solved tens of millions of DNA sequencing puzzles, aiding in the advancement of clinical research.

Here are several ways video game companies are working to empower communities and solve problems.

Donating proceeds from sales. Many video game companies partner with global and local organizations to support good causes. To support the fight against cancer and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Gearbox's San Francisco team, Cryptic Studios, and ViacomCBS Consumer Products teamed up with Groupees.com to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. During the launch of Star Trek Online: Awakening on consoles, players had the option to purchase limited-time in-game bundles and donate to the cause, which raised almost $60,000 in donations to the foundation.

Raising funds for good causes. Developers regularly partner with organizations to host annual fundraising events, like Gearbox's annual 12-hour Twitch stream where gamers stream video game content in support of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in partnership with Extra Life. Video game developers also often have publisher sales on platforms like Steam, in which a portion, if not all, of proceeds from video game sales, are donated to a good cause.

Creating in-game items to support urgent community needs. Video game studios often tap their communities to support those in need. In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gearbox Entertainment had thousands of its Borderlands 3 players purchase digital masks for their characters in response to the unprecedented need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals. All proceeds were donated to Direct Relief to support the acquisition of PPE for frontline healthcare workers.

Investing in STEM education. Supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is a major focus of the video game industry. As rising students may be the next generation of creatives and leaders in the industry, organizations like Gearbox are partnering with school districts to create programs that help students build transferable skills and encourage STEM exploration. Longview Independent School District in Texas has partnered with Gearbox Gives to allow 2,000 students to learn coding languages, gain hands-on experience with both hardware and software, be introduced to assembly and machine code, and explore other STEM areas, such as robotics.

The video game industry expands far beyond the games its community plays. If you're looking for a way to give back to your community, take a look at the programs your favorite developers have in play - getting involved is simpler than you think. Adding an extra stop on your mission or buying an in-game purchase during an event can enhance your gameplay and support amazing causes.

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