Massively Uplifting: MMOs from LOTRO to ESO bring comfort, healing, camaraderie, and charity


Summer may be ending, but good deeds and uplifting stories aren’t! Throughout August we’ve been surrounded by stories of kindness, generosity, and goodness within our gaming universe. These moments of making a better world can be big or small, but they always touch us. And they can make us better!

On a personal level, we have a player who used a Lord of the Rings Online festival as occupational therapy after a stroke and brain surgery, an Elder Scrolls Online online group that accommodates a visually impaired member, a Warhammer Online community comforting a comrade with cancer, and a Division 2 clan who helped a teen through tough times. In a broader scope, studios continue to step up to lessen the impact of restricted funding many charities are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The charity SpecialEffect has been bolstered by special fundraisers from the makers of Fall Guys from PubG, and QuakeCon at Home’s efforts will benefit NAACP Legal and Educational Fund, Direct Relief, The Trevor Project and Unicef. And on a historical level, the UK’s National Videogame Museum has reopened after fears of a permanent closure, and Skyrim’s favorite gaming grandma is making national news.

See? Plenty of heart-warming stories as the weather gets ready to cool down in North America.

More than just a game

There is no denying that video games can be a momentary escape from life, but we know they’re much more than that. Games can help life in numerous ways. We discussed some of those ways two and a half years ago in a Soapbox, and this past month we’ve seen some very personal, first-hand experiences of these.

First, we learned of a LOTRO player whose gaming was downright healing! In a thread talking about mithril refunds, player maartena added a tiny aside at the end of their on -topic comment to share a touching tribute of personal healing from the game. After initially explaining that they had a stroke and emergency brain surgery back in March, they shared that playing through the Spring festival was a dose of occupational therapy that helped restore the ability to use a mouse and keyboard.

“Side note: I regained a lot of my mouse and keyboard control by doing the spring festival fence runs in Brockenborings over and over and over…. (with a LOT of fails) – so in a sense, it became part of my occupational therapy! By the time Spring fest ended, I was able to do the quick run successfully again.”

The next instance showcases a way games can offer healing to the soul as well as the body — even when the game’s not live! While no longer online, some Warhammer Online fans have reconvened on the Return of Reckoning rogue server. And that community has rallied together behind an ill comrade: When current ROR player and veteran WAR player Gary/Biploargary posted that they had terminal lung cancer and was quickly deteriorating, folks offered messages of comfort and support. Many remarked how they remembered Gary from way back in the original game and shared memories. Gamesbond, who shared this news, also hopes to have Gary memorialized: “I will try to ask the devs to prepare an NPC/statue with his name on it and will have the Twitch Drops questline called something like ‘Gary’s ironwill journey’.”

Update September 8, 2020
We’re sorry to have to make this update, but just a day after this piece ran, we learned that Gary passed away. The developers did indeed set up an NPC for him this weekend. “When we made the NPC, Gary was still fighting for his life,” the team told us. “We did not know he was going to pass away that soon, as his illness guarantees his death. Today, the team has added Gary’s nickname in the graveyard area of Praag. Praag is a region partially destroyed and has a graveyard interest point on the map. On Wednesday’s patch note announcement, we will mourn and honor the brave warrior who fought cancer in an effort to show support to anyone who’s fighting the same battle.” We’ve included images of the memorial below, courtesy of the Reckoning team.

From the world of Division 2, one parent shares how player Kasimiro and his clan PHL Katipuneros really helped their son during an extremely difficult time of dealing with having COVID-19, the terminal diagnosis of his beloved grandfather, and the rest of the pandemic. For a time with these folks, the teen was able to tune out life’s stresses and have fun while this clan took him on runs, showered him with gear, and just spent time with him. What might have seemed like no big deal to the group was publicly praised by the parents, who thank the gamers for their actions. And one twitter use is trying to make sure that clan sees the appreciation!


Most of the time when folks use all caps, it is interpreted as yelling and can seem quite annoying. However, in one Facebook group for Elder Scrolls Online (aptly called Elder Scrolls Online Pc Gamers), it is the way the group is being inclusive. MOP’s own Tamriel Infinium columnist Ben Griggs shared how one member has a visual impairment and can distinguish what’s being said only when the text is in caps. Although it may have seemed weird or uncomfortable in the beginning, now that group just always responds in all caps, explaining the situation to any new members. What a great and ultimately easy way to help out a fellow ESO fan!

Granny gains ground

The Elder Scrolls fandom knows Grandma Shirley, and we know Grandma Shirley — and now the world knows Grandma Shirley! We’ve highlighted Skyrim’s favorite gaming grandma a few times here in Massively Uplifting, and we’re happy to see her getting some mainstream attention! The New York Times spotlighted Shirley Curry, calling her a grandmother with more than 900,000 “grandkids”! (I count myself in that number.) Now, with this wider audience, more folks can come to know her. If you want to learn some fun facts about her life, like how she’d conquer continent after continent in Civilization II, check out the online piece in the NYT.

Special help for SpecialEffect

SpecialEffect is a UK-based charity that — like many organizations that help others — has felt the pinch of the pandemic. Dr. Mick Donegan, Founder and CEO of SpecialEffect, shared this: “When the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions hit earlier this year, the charity was facing a significant reduction in funding income due, in part, to many of its key fundraising events being cancelled or postponed.” Thanks to the efforts of various gaming companies, the charity will be able to continue to help transform the lives of gamers with disabilities.

One fundraising light in the darkness for SpecialEffect came from the makers of Fall Guys. These devs held a Battle of the Brands auction, setting off a bidding war for the rights to a character costume design in game that brought in $1M. The winners were @MrBeastYT@Ninja, @G2esports and @aimlab, popular streamers who have also announced they will be organizing a livestream event to further help the charity.

Come September 25th, PUBG Corporation will join various other video game industry professionals to support the Chicken for Charity 3 tournament. This event will be hosted by SEGA Europe and sponsored by HyperX and KFC Gaming, and proceeds will go to help SpecialEffect. The public can watch the tournament on Twitch starting at noon EDT, and those who wish to add to the £25,000 already raised can donate via Just Giving.

In addition to this, every year SpecialEffect holds a special event called One Special Day. On this day, “the games industry – mobile, PC and console – stands together to raise vital income to help gamers’ charity SpecialEffect level the playing field for gamers with disabilities.” Many companies in gaming (including SEGA, Ubisoft, Humble Bundle, and so many more) are have partnered with SpecialEffect to support its One Special Day initiative. This year, the event is October 2nd.

Charity never faileth

PUBG may be gearing up for a charity event in September, but it also just finished one in August. PUBG Mobile issued an in-game running challenge alongside a community fundraiser to gather funds to support the humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief, specifically for its COVID-19 global response project to supply medical aid to frontline healthcare workers. Players reached the final milestone to secure the top donation amount PUBGM promise: With a total of 864 million kilometers run, the final donation amount was $2M. Players can continue to contribute by visiting the #PUBGMPlayAsOne COVID-19 Response page.

Just because cons are virtual this year does not mean fundraising for charity is hindered. In fact, it might be even more creative. Over the course of its weekend event, QuakeCon at Home raised more than $30,000, which will be split among four charities: the NAACP Legal and Educational Fund, Direct Relief, The Trevor Project and Unicef. One of the fun ways the money was raised was with Elder Scrolls Online devs playing a “gearless and fearless dungeon run” on stream and having to follow the directions of those donating. Switch tank for healer? Yup. Can’t use any loot you find loot? Yup. The audience really got in on the fun — donations were hopping and requests were creative. QuakeCon at Home also had another charity initiative where the proceeds from the sale of two different T-shirts (sporting Dogvakhiin and Catodemon designs) were donated to the Dallas Pets Alive and Four Paws animal charities.

Saving history

Another bright bit of news came when we learned that the National History Museum in the UK reopened. Closed since March due to the pandemic, there were fears that this jewel preserving gaming history would be forced to close permanently due to lack of funds. Thankfully, fundraising efforts that brought in over £200,000 (the initial goal was £80,000) allowed the museum to continue. Doors were set to open on August 22nd, with a number of new safety protocols in place. NVM Director of Culture Iain Simons said,

“We’re tentatively excited to be welcoming our visitors back to this new NVM experience, which is possible thanks to the dedication and imagination of our amazing team. Our community of patrons and friends have kept us going through lockdown with extraordinary levels of support. Like everyone else, we’re only just discovering what post-lockdown operation will be, so whilst we’re nervously excited – we’re also delighted to be welcoming people back to the NVM.”

More uplifting MMO stories from August…

From happy stories to good deeds within our virtual worlds and the real world around us, there’s so much good in the gaming community. That’s why Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie pens Massively Uplifting: to highlight those generous, inspiring, heart-warming, and uplifting tales that exist throughout the MMOverse. Send your suggested stories along to for our next entry!
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