Ever since the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice—all unarmed Black men killed by the hands of police— have swept social consciousness, there has been a sense of growing helplessness and frustration in the Black community. This frustration was ignited with the refusals of grand juries to indict police officers that led to a wave of protests around the globe. Social media and technology played a large role as users adopted the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #icantbreathe as their rallying cry. Even the hacker group Anonymous took up banners in search of justice. Now gamers are making their voices heard with #Spawn4Good, gaming charity event against police brutality.
The #Spawn4Good event— taking place January 17 and 18— invites gamers all over the world to stream on Twitch in an unprecedented act of solidarity to reflect and take a stand against the unequal treatment of people of color at the hands of law enforcement. The initiative will also raise funds through CrowdRise with the donations being distributed to the Eric Garner Fund, and The New York Lawyers Guild.
#Spawn4Good is the brain child of Kahlief Adams, Owner and Editor in Chief of SpawnPointBlog. Along with the podcast Spawn On Me, the site spotlights people of color in the gaming industry. When asked why he chose gaming as a platform, Adams said, “Gaming is and has been a part of our lives since we were very little, and it only feels natural to help in this way. We’ve seen the awful reshaping of what the term “gamer” has been over the past year with the #GamerGate & #NotYourShield debacles and felt like this was a way push back against the consistent apathetic feelings we see in our own gaming communities when it comes to issues of racial disparity and injustice.”
“There was a bigger uproar over the last Destiny update than there was over any of the issues facing gamers of color and their communities and we feel like that needs addressing.”
Adams joins a growing movement of people accepting the evolving notion of gaming as more than just a male teenager’s pastime. With 59% of Americans playing video games and the average age being 31 according to the Entertainment Software Association, the look of the gamer is changing and driving change not only in pocketbooks but in social issues. Engaged gamers have been motivated to donate more than 101 billion grains of rice through the World Food Programs online game FreeRice, the annual Awesome Games Done Quick Event raised over $1,000,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation in a live streaming event and there are organizations like the annual Games for Change Festival that showcase games developed for education, activism and that effect social or environmental change.