I know it’s navigating into rocky territory when I start criticizing a charity, but I’m going to do it anyway: Child’s Play is a gross misallocation of resources, and those who contribute toward it should give it a second thought.
What you’re doing when you contribute to Child’s Play is buying toys, games, and books for children mostly in long-term care. It’s an admirable gesture as people in hospitals must be bored as hell and in need of some good entertainment. But still, I don’t like the idea of gamers giving games to future gamers.
It reeks of consumerism. It’s no wonder why Microsoft, Sony, Blizzard, Valve, etc. all give thousands of dollars to the cause every year – it’s great PR. It creates new customers. Furthermore, if I remember correctly, the reason Child’s Play was started was to give off a good image of gamers, and to shove that in the face of politicians who would claim that they’re violent, unbalanced individuals. Well that’s great guys! You sure can buy video games. You sure showed them.
Here’s the most important part: Child’s Play doesn’t save lives. I guess you could give a lot of excuses and pass them off as arguments: “the more money we contribute to entertainment, the more hospitals can pay for medicine!” or “kids won’t die… of boredom!” But that’s bullshit. Kids don’t die of boredom. Kids die of hunger, disease, violence, and a whole lot more. Video games won’t save them.
Look, it’s great that you’re bolstering an entertainment industry while giving toys to children in first-world hospitals (oh, and one in Iraq), instead of buying the same things for yourself. But please consider donating to charities that will actually work toward curing actual ills. They’re very easy to find.
I’m open for arguments as to why I’m off base about Child’s Play, but it probably won’t deter me from my main argument that there are much better ways of giving away your money.
PS In Child’s Play’s favor: according to the Wikipedia entry (but not the official site?), cash donated does go toward “paying for pediatric research, facility improvements, etc.” If true, that’s great.


  1. I really don’t buy arguments of intent when it comes to charity, unless the intent goes strictly against the cause. It really matters a lot more what people do than what they mean to do. Ask anyone who’s gotten out of an abusive relationship!
    I also don’t think improving the quality of life should be a negligible cause next to saving lives. Just because someone has the privilege of life and nutrition doesn’t mean they can’t suffer or shouldn’t be helped.

    1. That’s true. I think that’s what most people are telling me: that Child’s Play is getting people, who would otherwise not donate, to donate.
      What I’m hoping, though, is that it inspires people to give more to charities in general. It has for me. I bought a game through Child’s Play one year, and since then I’ve made it a regular thing to donate to charities that I believe have more of an impact.

  2. “Not saving lives” does not equal “gross misallocation of money”, not by a longshot.
    A sick child needs something to take their mind off of their illness, and video games do that very well. And a positive mind has a good effect on the body. Maybe not miraculous, but if they feel better because they got to play a DS, how is that a misallocation of resources?
    Your primary argument seems to be that all money should go towards finding cures. I disagree: some illnesses are going to take a very long time to cure, if there is indeed a cure. In the meantime, there should be resources set aside to improve quality of life for those who are suffering.

  3. I can see your point, but at this point I HIGHLY doubt that 100% of the money they bring in year after year is going towards toys and games. I’m willing to bet each year more and more money goes directly to the hospitals.

    1. Right. Best case scenario, the donations through Amazon and companies are the only products that reach the kids, while the cash donated goes toward more important aspects of the hospital. I’m sure it’s somewhere in between.

  4. There are a lot of things on the hospitals’ wish lists that aren’t games- I’ve bought play-doh and books and things through Child’s Play every year.
    Also my boyfriend’s sister is a social worker at the childrens hospital in Oakland (that receives donations from Child’s Play) and has said that having more toys and things for the kids to do has really improved quality of life.
    You’re right, they’re not dying of boredom- but they are bored. They have very little stimulation- they can’t go to school they probably don’t get many playdates, and many of their parents probably can’t afford to buy them a lot of toys and games, let alone costly video game consoles. Yes money should be invested in a cure, but there are plenty of other charities that do that. Boredom and depression are also very real problems- often overlooked- that are solvable immediately.
    I worked at Gamestop for 2 years. Believe me, I know a whole lot about how consumer-driven and awful the whole industry can be. But that doesn’t mean that I completely boycott video games- they’re fun.

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