You have almost certainly heard of “Retake Mass Effect” by now. One of many grassroots efforts to get a new ending to Mass Effect 3, it’s part community, part online petition, and part (here is where things get complicated) Child’s Play Donation Drive. They have stopped taking donations now partly because they basically won and partly because we don’t know how to feel about this use of the charity.
As the main point of contact for Child’s Play, Jamie has been buried under mail about this situation. Apparently some of the people giving to the cause seemed to think that they were paying for a new ending to Mass Effect. She’s been asked what the goal is, and how much they need to raise in order to get the ending produced. We’ve also been contacted by PayPal due to a high number of people asking for their donations back. This is in addition to readers who simply couldn’t understand how this was connected to Child’s Play’s mission. We were dealing with a lot of very confused people, more every day, and that told us we had a problem.
We have policies in place to deal with direct abuse: we don’t allow companies to use Child’s Play in order to sell more stuff. To that end we do not allow deals like “1 cent of every dollar goes to Child’s Play!” or whatever. But this isn’t anywhere on that continuum! This is a passionate community that formed around one thing, and some of that passion was expressed in charitable giving. I actually support this cause, but I am a pessimist, and I’m thinking about the next time something like this happens - when someone attaches Child’s Play to something we can’t get behind, or leverages your history of generosity and fellow feeling for their own weird bullshit. So, we need to have something like a policy on this. This is the best way I can think to say it:
Child’s Play cannot be a tool to draw attention to a cause. Child’s Play must be the Cause.
Nothing like this has ever happened in the almost ten years the charity has been running, so it kind of threw me for a loop. Thanks for listening.