Answer the Call

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Every year, a new Call of Duty game for the masses. The multi-billion dollar franchise has sold millions upon millions of copies all over the world, has a competitive and dedicated fanbase, and continues to up the ante with each new sequel.


Every week on Geekology, I take a closer look at what’s happening in the geek world. The opinions expressed in Geekology articles are mine and mine alone. Blame me, everyone. Blame me.


The Call of Duty Endowment

It’s like clockwork.

A new year, a new Call of Duty.

With Infinite Warfare, the franchise heads above and beyond to space, and special editions come bundled with a remastered version of its most lauded game — the venerated Modern Warfare.

The new release will likely sell millions. Even without the remastered version whetting fans’ appetites, Infinite Warfare is already a bonafide hit even if it sells only half the units of last year’s Black Ops 3 — though, by Activision’s crazy-high standards, that would be a bit of a disappointment.

And with this upcoming release, Activision is hoping to raise awareness for something even the most hardcore fans might be not be privy about, though the Call of Duty Endowment has started to make waves and a real-life difference for veterans.

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From October 21 to November 15, Activision is partnering up with Snowball Express and GameStop to raise money for our nation’s veterans and the families of those who’ve been killed in action. Customers shopping at GameStop can add a dollar or more to their purchase, and the proceeds — all 100% of it — will be split equally between the Endowment and Snowball Express.

I had a chance to talk to Dan Goldenberg, the Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment, and I learned about Activision’s efforts to help those who’ve done so much for our country. And it also spoke to the potential we gamers can reach when we give of our time, effort, and a bit of pocket change to help those who really need it.

According to Goldenberg, the Endowment is the brain child of Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick who also serves on the board for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Kotick wanted to get veterans more involved after seeing the need, and after he asked the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for more opportunities, he decided to create the Endowment. More than just a charity, the Endowment works hard to get veterans meaningful employment. Kotick was spurred to act when he found out the unemployment rate for soldiers returning home from duty was at a staggering 20%.

Goldenberg explained, “We owe it to the military.” And since its inception, the Endowment has found employment for 29,000 veterans with the sort of efficiency a game developer like Activision thrives from. Goldenberg explained that the government spends about $3083 to place vets. The Endowment, on the other hand, only needs $606 to do the same. The veterans who work with the Endowment also have higher average salaries, and they stay at their jobs longer. That kind of efficiency builds trust, and it shows the sort of dedication that comes from a company wanting to get the job done and done right.

When I asked for a specific story about a veteran who had gained much from the Endowment, Goldenberg mentioned DJ Watson, a wounded veteran who served in Afghanistan. Upon returning, Watson gmade the transition from the battlefield to civilian life by getting employment in the IT field. When Watson started his own business, he decided to hire veterans as well. It’s a feel-good story and one that is hopefully happening with many veterans returning home.

As the country continues sending soldiers overseas, the need to help our servicemen and women continues. Goldenberg pointed out that veterans can receive help by going to the Endowment’s site. The Endowment’s services are also free to employers who want to give back.

And for GameStop, this holiday season is a chance to capitalize on Call of Duty’s success by asking gamers to spend a little more to help veterans and the families of soldiers who are killed while on duty. Again, all proceeds will be split between the Endowment and Snowball Express, which holds a special event every year to help families recover from the devastating loss of a loved one. Goldenberg made it very clear and known that Activision foots the bills and working costs of maintaining the Endowment. That means 100% of the money that reaches the Endowment does not get pocketed. Of the $21-million that’s been donated so far, $19-million has been spent. As more donations come in, the Endowment works to spend it quickly, wisely, and efficiently to help those who need it as swiftly as possible.

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On November 5, 2016, gamers will take out their consoles, controllers, and board games for Extra Life day. Streamers will take to the Internet to try and raise money for worthy causes. The Endowment also relies streamers for their own events, and the Race to Prestige event will happen this year beginning November 3 at 2:00pm CDT and ending November 7 at 8:00am CDT. Details from the press release state that OpTic Gaming, Twitch, and Best Buy will live stream an “around-the-clock, relay-style video game marathon” for Infinite Warfare. Viewers can donate as they watch the stream on the Call of Duty Twitch channel and also on MLG.tv.

Goldenberg says last year’s event was “incredibly helpful” with 2.8-million viewers tuning in. Even if only a fraction of the viewers donated a dollar or two, that equates to a lot of money going to help a lot of veterans.

It’s another way gamers can participate and help those who inspire our video games. It’s also a way to game responsibly, knowing that the reality of war isn’t a pretty one, especially for those whose lives are impacted by it.

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