Summer sweetness is not just for corn and watermelon! No, it’s for all the kind and generous gestures of of our fellow gamers and game developers that bring sunshine to others this season. There’s also the sweet flavor of success. Two July events — one run by Bungie and the other by ZeniMax Online Studios and Elder Scrolls Online — raised money to help multiple charities, including feeding hungry children, promoting diversity and inclusion, and aiding those affected and even displaced by war conflicts in the Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Sadly, this summer also included many losses from the communities of Sea of Thieves, Black Desert and Vindictus , Ultima Online, and SWG: Legends. Their memories will continue to grow in the hearts of all they have touched.
Slaying records silently
Can you imagine coordinating and running massive raids without voice chat? Most groups/guilds wouldn’t even dare; in fact, most raid teams in games mandate voice as a prerequisite for participation. One World of Warcraft guild, however, seriously challenges this dogma. As a guild of mostly deaf and hard-of-hearing players, the Undaunted guild dives right into difficult content without a “game feature” that many would consider indispensable. And members had a successful raid this summer that not only beat down a boss but also broke through barriers: They defeated The Jailer in Sepulcher of the First Ones in Heroic mode as the first voiceless-only raid group. Talk about showcasing their gaming and communication skills! Slashing stereotypes while smashing records is certainly something we celebrate. Congratulations to Undaunted Guild on their accomplishment, and we look forward to hearing when they defeat Mythic!
a @UndauntedGuild guild that mostly consists of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing players, is the first “voiceless-only” group to defeat The Jailer in Seplcher of the First Ones on Heroic mode. Ready for MYTHIC! LETS GO! pic.twitter.com/QuE3yVmRwZ
— Wesdiaz (@Undaunted_Wes) May 26, 2022
Playing for the Planet Alliance
The 1990s had Captain Planet, but the 2020s have the Playing for the Planet Alliance. Instead of just marketing the message of helping the planet to kids via a cartoon, a group of more than 35 gaming companies came together will the goal of actively reducing their carbon footprint and integrating environmental activations into their respective games. The companies have “made voluntary, ambitious, specific, and time-based commitments for people and planet, facilitated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)” and then collaborate together to achieve even more than any individual company could alone.
While it has already participated in other conservation projects (notably the cooperation with the Eden Reforestation Projects we’ve highlighted many times), Gamigo has joined this alliance to further its commitment to the planet. The Gamigo Group has committed to two initiatives for the next year:
- Decarbonize its platform with a goal of being carbon neutral by 2022;
- Educate its players about environmental sustainability through environmental activations in its games and through participating in the annual Green Game Jam organized by the Playing for the Planet Alliance.
The Green Game Jam 2022 (which has 50 participating studios) has a million-themed goal for the event goal. It aims to “shift one million players’ food choices for the environment, plant and protect one million trees and ultimately bring together one million players in a digital climate walk.”
Lost voice, vision, and support
It always hurts our hearts when our gaming communities face losses. And one faced this summer felt across a number of gaming groups was the loss of voice actor Billy Kametz. Games expressing their condolences include both Black Desert (Kametz voiced Lando) and Vindictus (he voiced Lann), both of which prove that Kametz will never be forgotten.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of @BillyKametz
Thank you for bringing joy to our players with your voice for Lando.
Your legacy will live on in so many projects and hearts.
Let us all light a lantern today.
Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/Vh7gvu6Fea
— Black Desert Online PC (@NewsBlackDesert) June 13, 2022
Another loss was veteran game designer Mike Sellers, who shared his design vision on a variety of projects throughout the years, including children’s games, Meridian 59, SimCity Online, The Sims 2, and Ultima Online in roles from lead UI and UX designer to senior game designer and other leadership roles. Sellers had been battling a brutal brain tumor, and his GoFundMe to help with medical expenses surpassed its goal; many answered the call, donating over $70K to help Sellers and his family.
After his years of game design, Sellers moved into academia, most recently serving as director and professor of practice on Indiana University Bloomington’s game design degree program. On that original GoFundMe, his family announced that they were establishing the Mike Sellers Memorial Fund.
In honor of his many years of teaching and leadership, the Sellers family has established the Mike Sellers Memorial Fund through the IU Foundation, to benefit the students of the Game Design program Mike helped found at Indiana University. The endowment will assist in sending IU students to the Game Developers Conference every year, continuing Mike’s tradition of mentoring the next generation of game creators.
To help us reach the goal of raising $25,000, donations can be made by sending a check to the IU Foundation with “Media School/Mike Sellers Memorial Fund” in the memo line, or by making an online gift here: https://www.myiu.org/one-time-gift?sc=AG21GANIUFO1GNWETF25M and noting “Media School/Mike Sellers Memorial Fund” in the “write in gift area” box. Donations of any size are welcome. Please share the information about the Memorial Fund with all those who knew and loved Mike.
With this fund, Sellers will continue to touch the lives of many game developers and gamers for years to come.
The industry learned of yet another loss when Sea of Thieves studio Rare announced the death of industry veteran Robert Ashby. Though most recently with Rare, which called him “the stalwart of our customer service and support teams, taking care of online safety and security across our studio and games,” Ashby had also worked at Sony, ZeniMax Online Studios, Jagex, and Blizzard. Many stories of Ashby’s unfailing kindness and generosity were shared as Rare paid tribute to the man.
The SWG Legends community sadly announced the death of one of its community members, Trebor. Snippets of his story were shared in a touching memorial, and the community was encouraged to share thoughts and screenshots.
Charity for children
Highlighting all those in our MMOverse helping others is a main tenet of Massively Uplifting, and we are always honored to honor those whose generosity and service benefit those in need. And both ZeniMax and Bungie and their communities gave good examples of this during July.
Between July 10th and July 17th, 2022, multiple livestreamers participated in The Elder Scrolls Online’s summer Give a Sweetroll 2022 Charity Drive. Gamers and viewers came together to raise almost $23,000 for the No Kid Hungry charity, whose goal is to end childhood hunger in America.
Overlapping that event was the Bungie Day Giving Festival from July 7th through the 20th. During this event, with the help of gamers, content creators, streamers, and donors worldwide, the Bungie Foundation brought in $1.2M for charity. These funds will benefit the three charitable pillars of the foundation: Children’s Health and Well-being; Humanitarian Aid; and Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. The funds will go to Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington to grant wishes to children with critical illnesses, Direct Relief and the International Rescue Committee to provide medical material aid and financial assistance to those affected by the conflict in the Ukraine and Afghanistan as well as other countries in crisis, and the Yale Anti-Racist Character Creation Project that aims to challenge the very algorithms used to generate virtual humans and generate new math and development models (starting with hair) to reflect the diversity of our planet. You can learn more about and contribute to each of these organizations on the Bungie Day Spotlight.
See so much more!
More warm fuzzies? Of course! Not even summer’s heat can melt our hearts like this.