As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m a bit of a magnet for all sorts of downloadable gaming junque. I’m not a total addict (at least not to the point of needing an external hard drive to keep up with stuff), but I’m always curious to see how creative minds approach any number of gaming-related topics. So, yeah, I’ve downloaded more than my fair share of PDF rulebooks, supplements, terrain tiles, counter sets and figure cutouts.

It did not escape my notice last month when the DriveThruStuff.com family of websites made their pitch for donations to their Haitian Relief Fund. As you may imagine, I was particularly attracted to the “Haitian Relief Bundle”,  which offered a large number of downloadable products – all digitally donated by their publishers – as an incentive for the rather small donation amount of $20.

OK. So I took the deal. But more on that in a minute. Right now, I’d like to give props to the krewe. Here’s the REAL deal: The gamer-powered donation drive for Haitian relief collected $178,900.

That’s extraordinary. That’s not chump change, boys and girls. Here’s a little perspective. In late January the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pledged $750,000 for Haitian relief. $250,000 was immediate relief from existing funds and the remainder was pledged from anticipated future donations to a relief fund.

Now, the ELCA isn’t some televangelist who can rake in millions in a few days with warnings about lightning bolts from God – but neither is it a small organization (about 4.6 million members as of 2008).  Even if you figure that’s a little over 1 million households, that’s still anticipating far less than $1 from each potential ‘donating budget’.

I’m not privvy to the customer records at the DriveThruStuff web sites, but I’d be really surprised if they had over 1 million customers. The donation total was more likely generated from the giving of 10,000 – 12,000 people – which is a pretty generous response, if you ask me.

Of course, some folks are probably wondering about the goodies that were included in the downloadable bundle. A lot of publishers participated. The ‘order’ appears in my account the same way as a ‘standard’ bundled product would – links to individual downloads for each product. That means I don’t have to waste bandwidth downloading product that I don’t want.

To be sure, the bundle includes some products that aren’t exactly world-beaters. If you’re not familiar with the state of the downloadable gaming press, then I’ll clue you in that it includes its fair share of less than impressive products. However, the relief bundle also includes a fair number of top-quality downloads – some of which ‘retail’ for more than $20 on their own. I was even nicely surprised to find several products in the bundle that were on my ‘wish list’ for the site.

Kudos to all involved – the web sites involved in the donations, the publishers who offered their wares and the gamers who ponied up. Great job, folks.

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