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Video Game Community Rallies to Support Japanese Tsunami Victims

Mar 17, 2011 – 1:34 PM
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Dave Thier

Dave Thier Contributor

If you've been thinking about buying a Nintendo DS, there's one on the market right now that you may want to take a look at. It's cherry red and signed by gaming legends like composer Koji Kondo, voice of Mario Charles Martinet, Zelda director Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo guru Shigeru Miyamoto.

The DS belongs to Meagan Marie, an associate editor at Game Informer. She's auctioning it on eBay to benefit the victims of the tsunami in northern Japan.

Video Game Community Rallies to Support Japan Tsunami Victims
This cherry-red Nintendo DS is signed by gaming industry luminaries and being auctioned on eBay to benefit Japanese disaster victims.
The video game industry has strong ties to Japan -- current, historical, practical, creative and collaborative. When Marie and others in the gaming community heard about the disaster, they immediately thought of colleagues they had worked with for years.

"Growing up geek and making a career out of my passion for video games, Japan has always been a cultural hub for everything I love. Not to mention the people are fantastically hard working, respectful and full of life," Marie told AOL News.

"While every humanitarian crisis deserves the same attention, this is one effort I felt I could aid in a particularly relevant manner."

Others in the gaming community are doing their part to contribute as well. The Massively Multiplayer Game "EVE Online" is allowing players to make donations in the form of in-game currency, which the company will cash out for real money that will go to support the victims. Zynga, the creators of "FarmVille" and "CityVille," are offering special crops that gamers will be able to purchase with donations.

Gaming site is planning an all day fundraiser Friday, where they'll play 24 Japanese games in 24 hours as they chat with readers over Facebook and Twitter and give away prizes for readers that donate to those damaged by the disaster.

"This is a disaster on a huge scale, and we didn't want to sit idly by while hundreds of thousands of people were homeless and suffering," IGN editor Cam Shea told AOL News. "The staff at IGN have a deep affiliation with Japan and Japanese culture, and so do a large percentage of our readers. Why not leverage the passion of the staff and our audience and play a small part in helping the country recover?"

For gamers, the impact that Japan has had on their industry extends beyond the practical concerns that the auto and electronics industries are facing. Japan is the home of Zelda, Mario, the Final Fantasy Series and a host of other stories that have shaped the imaginations of many in the gaming community from childhood on.

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"Japan has made immeasurable contributions to gaming, from revitalizing the industry after the collapse in 1984, to creating some of the most enduring characters and series," Shea said. "The face of modern video games would be unrecognizable without Japanese designers and companies."

In addition to individuals, Japanese gaming corporations are making large donations. Nintendo, Sony, Konami, Sega and Bandai are all giving in excess of 100 million yen ($1.286 million). Capcom reduced the price of "Street Fighter 4" on Apple's App store to 99 cents before announcing that they would donate all of those proceeds to charity.

Gamers who want to contribute are encouraged to go through any of the channels set up by gaming companies to give what they can. Many of the charities are giving their donations to the American Red Cross, which of course also accepts donations directly.

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