QuakeCon 2015 kicks off today, celebrating 20 years of PC gaming's biggest annual party. There will be games played, friends made and energy drinks consumed.
But there will also be people doing good. Id Software (the local game development studio responsible for Quake as well as other games like Doom) and Bethesda are making an extra effort this year to give back to the community by hosting several charity organizations at the show.
"Any time you can do some good while you're having fun, it always feels good," Bethesda's VP of Marketing, Pete Hines, told me earlier this week.
This isn't the first time they've had charities involved with QuakeCon. Last year, Bethesda teamed up with the American Red Cross for a blood drive that they tied into the then-upcoming release of The Evil Within. "I've always been a big fan of trying to find clever ways to promote what we're doing but also do some good," Hines said, "and with a survival horror game blood donations seemed like an easy one, and QuakeCon just ended up being a good spot to pull that off."
Apparently it was a success (Hines told me the Red Cross was "really thrilled" with the response), so there will be a blood drive again this year, albeit without the horror game theme.
But QuakeCon is very much an event rooted in Dallas, so Bethesda made sure to get in touch with local charities as well.
"We have a long history in and around the Dallas area," Hines said. "We have folks who have worked many years at Id and were either born in Texas or grew up there, and they certainly expressed a desire to work with charities from their own area as part of this. QuakeCon is a Bethesda thing, but its roots and its origins are obviously entirely due to Id Software, and Id's guys were a big part of inviting a lot of charities from Texas. That's their home."
Those D-FW charities are DFW Nerd Night and Dallas Pets Alive, the latter of which had a successful outreach at last year's QuakeCon, making great use of the visibility they were given on the show floor. "That's all they need," Hines said. "Just a chance to get in front of people and let folks see what they're doing and all the pets they have available, and give them a chance to donate."
Another charity present at this year's show, Take This, could be as life-changing for the attendees as it is for people not at the event. The non-profit organization is all about educating people about mental health issues, and they'll have one of their signature AFK ("Away From Keyboard") Rooms for anybody who needs to get away from the noise at QuakeCon.
"Crowds, schedules, the immediacy of once-a-year events and other stressors common at conventions and expos can be triggers for many emotional issues, especially anxiety and depression," the Take This website says. "More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a safe space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues. Still others check in to support us and our mission. We are happy to meet you all."
So if you make your way to QuakeCon this weekend, check out some of the good causes that are there. The convention runs from July 23-26 at the Hilton Anatole, and general admission to the show floor is free.