Even gamers recently locked into marathon sessions of Halo 2 over Xbox Live have heard the news of the natural disaster that has crippled the southern United States. Hurricane Katrina unleashed the bulk of her fury on the states of Mississippi and Louisiana this past week, leaving citizens homeless, possibly thousands dead, and the city of New Orleans submerged.
Such unfortunate events can bring out the best and worst in people. Fortunately, the majority of community members have grouped together to help in any way they can. Redmond, Washington-based Bungie Studios, the Microsoft subsidiary that developed the Halo franchise for the Xbox, has stepped up to help those in need by sponsoring a relief effort program.
The company is now selling T-Shirts emblazoned with the logo "Fight the Flood!" for $19.99 on its Web site. The white T-shirt shows a caricature of Halo's hero, Master Chief, punting one of the Flood, an enemy in Halo. The double entendre is apt, as the Flood are parasitic organisms that know nothing other than destruction.
Bungie notes that not one penny of sales goes toward profit, and that at least $15 of each sale goes directly to the Red Cross. Bungie is also donating all its store profits for the month of September to aid in rebuilding the damaged area. Later this month, the developer will join with fan site Halo.Bungie.Org to sell rare Halo-related items in an auction for charity.
On a posting on Bungie's site, spokesperson Frankie O'Connor says, "Now, why did we make a T-Shirt? We used the tools we have. We have a company store that can handle the transactions. We have designers, and we were able to make T-Shirts faster than anything else. And a T-Shirt is something you can wear to show solidarity with the folks suffering there, and reminds everyone around you that it's good to donate. It's a billboard for what we're capable of doing when people need help."
Those interested in purchasing a shirt can do so at Bungie's online store.
Over in Norrath, Sony Online Entertainment has added the command /donate, which will take EverQuest II players directly to the American Red Cross donation page, where they can contribute to the disaster relief fund. Additionally, SOE has suspended billing for its more than 13,000 affected subscribers.