Unicef's 'Game Chaingers' asks gamers to mine cryptocurrency to support relief efforts in Syria

Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, is looking to gamers to help the children of the Syrian civil war through a program called Game Chaingers—spelled that way as a pun on "blockchain," which is how the scheme works. Instead of donating money, participants will donate GPU time to mine the Etherium cryptocurrency on behalf of the agency. 

"Humanitarian collections often solicit the same people with the same methods, but cryptocurrencies and their revolutionary approach are an opportunity to raise funds differently," the Game Chaingers FAQ explains. "Have you heard of Bitcoin? Etherium is the same, except that you can more easily 'mine' the Etherium via your computer and that money will go directly into the Unicef wallet." 

The setup is simple, as the site will pre-configure the Claymore mining software prior to downloading. Install the client, which comes in at a little under 5 meg in size, enter your chosen nickname, and you're off. A stats page keeps track of relevant information including the total number of miners, active miners, and—of course—leaderboards. There's not a lot of action yet, but it's growing: Over roughly the past hour the amount raised has gone from from €950 ($1175) to €1238 ($1530)—small amounts for an international effort, but headed in the right direction. 

Cryptocurrency mining has taken a real toll on GPU pricing and availability in recent months, driving graphics cards to record highs as people buy them up to fuel their blockchain fantasies. That's not a great situation for people who need to upgrade, but for gamers who are already packing powerful graphics cards, this is one way to put them to good use during downtimes.   

The Unicef Game Chaingers initiative is scheduled to run until March 31, and a support channel is available on Discord.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.