When I started Hearts & Coins in early 2014, I was searching for a way to combine my love of games with a heart to help those in need.

My idea back then was to create short-term altruistic projects that would meet a specific need and could be replicated by other small groups of people.

The initiative began well. The first project was the creation of a zine (‘Dear Yuna’, a series of personal letters to video game characters) which raised funds to provide microfinance loans to those who needed them via Kiva (www.kiva.org). The second project sought to provide games and gaming hardware to the Royal Brisbane Hospital’s Wonder Factory — an entertainment room set up to give long-term sick kids something to take their minds off their difficult circumstances. That project donated more than $11,000 worth of games and peripherals.

Unfortunately, by the time a third project (providing blankets hand sewn with gaming patches to homeless people) had been conceived and begun, my work commitments were mounting. I was travelling overseas frequently, often working 12-14 hours a day, and dealing with week-long interstate tours. My personal life–which involves being a dad to young triplets, including two boys with autism–was equally demanding. For close to five months, anything that could be put on hold, was.

By the time I returned to Hearts & Coins, I was dispirited. The ongoing storm of negativity that had engulfed the local games industry late in the year didn’t help.

Fundamentally, I believe everyone wants to do something that matters. I believe that we all have the desire to make this world a better place; that we all want to see positive change.

Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to see where that change is taking place. Our attempts to do something altruistic all too often feel insignificant. Our ability to feel like we are part of something bigger–a positive force–is crushed by our diminished sense of community and connection.

Great work is being done in the areas of charity and social awareness. Groups such as Medic, and the many marathon gaming charity streams that operate across the year, are testament to that. Companies, too, have designated charities they support; such as EB Games and their Starlight Foundation ‘Starlight Week’. But, too often, they operate in a bubble. Events take place with little awareness. Opportunities for individuals to get involved become lost opportunities. Projects that need support or encouragement fall away.

In response, Hearts & Coins has changed. It’s ambition now is to be an event and information hub for gaming-related charity in Australia.

I want it to be a place where people can find out about local events and initiatives. A place that announces and celebrates projects, providing opportunities for involvement and expansion. A place where even the smallest acts of gaming-related charity can be seen and supported.

Most of all, I want it to be a light shining on the good that’s being done. A place of inspiration, a jumping off point to combine your love of games with a heart to help those in need.

If you have a gaming-related charity event, auction or initiative that you would like included on Hearts & Coins, I’d love to hear from you. (You can find contact details on the About page.)

Together, we can do more.

 

IMAGE: Screenshot taken while playing Life is Strange: Episode 1, by Dontnod.