Get excellent games and help charities all at once; sounds like a winner!

Home Arts and Entertainment Get excellent games and help charities all at once; sounds like a winner!

And now it’s time to talk about perhaps the best form of gaming ever: gaming for charity!

In 2010, a group of independent game developers banded together with another one, Wolfire Games, to deliver their games in connection with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that defends online rights, as well as Child’s Play Charity, started in 2003 by the creators of the webcomic Penny Arcade as a means to deliver gaming equipment and software to hospitalized children.

Today, the Humble Indie Bundle is in its third iteration, offering some of the best indie games you’ll find at an astonishing price point: you set the price! That’s right, for a little less than one week from this posting, for from as little as a penny if you desire, to thousands of dollars (as has been paid by Notch, maker of Minecraft and Infinity Ward, maker of Call of Duty), you can own at least six high-quality games from gaming’s underdog developers. You can pay through PayPal or other popular online commerce methods. And you’ll be able to set how much of your payment you wish to give to the game developers, the EFF or Child’s Play, or to the organizers, Wolfire, themselves!

Best of all, if you donate higher than the current average (just under five dollars at this typing) you will also be buying the previous year’s Humble Pack – five more excellent games! Normal ‘retail’ purchase price for all these games runs more than $85, so $5 is quite a deal.

Now, I suppose you’ll want to hear about the games. Two of them, belonging to the most recent (3rd) pack, I have covered lightly already: Cogs, which consists of a series of steampunk-styled puzzles with turning golden cogs as their goal, and VVVVVV, a very simplistic, retro-styled platformer/exploration game that is unique in its control method: the protagonist, Captain Viridian, does not jump, but reverses gravity with a button press; a switch at the wrong time can send him barreling into spikes or one of the ubiquitous enemies in his way.

I’ll cover two more games that caught my eye while playing through the offerings:

Braid, a game released two years ago on the Xbox Live Arcade, is another 2D side-scroller, a game in which you control Tim, an average guy who seems to have made a BIG social mistake concerning his love, a beautiful princess. If only he could go back in time and ensure he never made that damning faux pas… Well, perhaps with his time-traveling powers, he could! Traversing the various worlds of Tim’s imagination, collecting puzzle pieces that enable him to re-assemble his memories of the good times with his love, avoiding nasty monsters and finagling his environment with his trusty time controls (which change in every world), Tim (apparently) hopes to somehow acquire his powers in the real world!

Osmos is a rather unique game in which there’s no real story, but you are a living sub-atomic mote, a nondescript spherical blob of matter, and you want to gain more atomic mass. You do this by propelling yourself through the miasma (ironically by losing your mass!), absorbing other motes which are smaller than you, and avoiding those which are larger. Different levels throw curves your way as you’re asked to absorb more “interesting” blobs of matter, which may try to avoid you! The temptation to speed through the miasma to gain more mass quickly is quite present, but remember, as in most things, slow and steady wins the race.

So, check out this awesome bundle, and get that warm feeling for helping out independent game developers as well as very needy charities!

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