There are over 740 games in the Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality and it costs just $5. But you can pay more than five bucks, of course.
Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place across the United States after a Black Minnesota man, George Floyd, was killed by a police officer on May 25, 2020. That police officer knelt on his neck and back for almost nine minutes, while Floyd called out that he couldn’t breathe and three other officers stood and watched. The killing was filmed and widely shared, which led to protests; first in Minnesota, then nationwide.
In the days of protest since, police forces and national guard have responded with force, pelting protesters and press alike with tear gas and batons and rubber bullets. It’s a heavy-handed and militaristic response to what feels like inevitable action, protests against hundreds of years of racial inequality and institutionalised violence.
It’s unimportant in the grand scheme of things but this has, of course, had an impact on the video game industry. In the week we all would’ve been at E3, the Los Angeles Convention Center has been converted into a staging post for the National Guard. PlayStation – and numerous others – have cancelled their big streams and reveal events in what would’ve been the E3 reveal period.
But what’s also happened is that the video game industry has rallied. It has put on a plethora of charity streams, bundles and sales to raise money for Black Lives Matter, the NCAAP, emergency bail funds, and other associated charities. We even got in on the act, small a contribution as it was, and recommend you do the same.
We just donated all of our advertising revenue from May to @bailfundnetwork's emergency rapid response fund – it's not much, and we're just a silly video game website, but we felt like we had to do something because #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/wH5yUHDzEF
— Thumbsticks (@thumb_sticks) June 3, 2020
But the contribution from the indie-friendly storefront, Itch.io, and hundreds of developers and publishers on the platform is not small. At the time of writing, the Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has raised over $600k US in less than a day, and looks set to obliterate its target of $1m over the bundle’s 10-day window.
It’s no surprise that this bundle is going so well. Quite aside from the charity aspect – which is, of course, the most important thing here – the Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality includes (again, at the time of writing) 742 games for the meagre price of just $5 US. (Just over £4.) It’s no wonder people have been snapping it up.
But what makes the bundle even more remarkable is the quality of the games included, which features, among others:
- Night in the Woods
- A Mortician’s Tale
- A Short Hike
- Super Hexagon
- Art Sqool
- Wheels of Aurelia
- Wide Ocean Big Jacket
- Quadrilateral Cowboy
- Spring Falls
Imagine buying one of those games for a fiver. Something amazing, like Night in the Woods, let’s say. That normally costs about 20 quid. Then when you open it you realise there are 740 other games in there that cost you absolutely nothing! It’s a hell of a bundle, that to buy separately would cost you three and a half grand.
That’s not the important thing here, of course. It’s money raised for important Black Lives Matter charities, raising money to support protestors and work to smash violent and systemically racist systems in the United States and beyond, that is the big-ticket item. (But if the promise of hundreds of games for next-to-nothing prices is what it takes to persuade fence-sitters and the “keep politics out of video games” crowd to donate to the Black Lives Matter effort? It’s still a win.)
And don’t forget: $5 is just the minimum entry point for the Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. You can absolutely pay more than five dollars. You should pay more than five dollars for 740+ video games and to support Black Lives Matter.
Actually, we’re going to go one step further than that: You must, because it is the right thing to do.
Update: June 8, 2020
Since this story was originally published on June 6, 2020, the total amount of money raised by the Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has ballooned. At the time of writing, it’s just creeping up to $2.5m, while the target has been bumped up to $5m dollars.
That is a phenomenal amount of money and there’s no sign of it stopping yet.
Well done, nerds. We’re proud of you.
Update: June 15, 2020
At the time of writing – around 8pm BST, on June 15 – the Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has half a day left to run. That’s just 12 hours to pick up over 1700 indie games for just $5.
Well, you could pay five bucks, but as it’s raising money for a good cause, you should totally pay more than a fiver. And we presume lots of you have been doing, because the bundle is just coming up on $7.3 million raised for charity, which is just astonishing.
There aren’t enough words to convey how proud we are of the gaming world for this, to the developers involved and everyone who’s donated. You’re all brilliant and we love you.
If you’re looking for ways to help, this Black Lives Matter Carrd site features a wealth of information on ways to help, funds you can donate to, and resources covering everything from protesting to mental health.