The natural world and #VideoGames don't really go together. Sure, we've seen wildernesses like no other rendered in-game and certain directors like to comment on how we're f***ing up the planet with their work. But you don't really hear about game developers saving the earth with the money they've generated from the occasional successful video game—until now, that is.
Tim Sweeney; Epic Games CEO/ Wildlife Conservationist
If you don't already know, this is Tim Sweeney, one of the Gods of the industry. Tim was one of the co-founders of Epic Games, that company that's brought you the likes of Unreal Tournament, #GearsOfWar and that little engine you might have heard of, Unreal—gamers have created some truly remarkable stuff with it!
But aside from developing revolutionary technology, exceptional games and being crowned a Development Legend at the Develop Industry Excellence Awards, this highly successful individual is a philanthropist in the best sense of the word.
This is an image of the Box Creek Wilderness in North Carolina, Tim's home State. It covers over 7,000 acres and is home to some of the rarest plants and wildlife found in this part of the country. Recently this area, which is a Registered Natural Heritage Site, had come under the threat of an energy company that wished to build power lines through its beauty. They're essentially one of those evil and faceless corporations we're so accustomed to in this day and age.
Therefore, in order to ensure the land and its natural splendor were protected, Tim Sweeney decided to step in and do something about it—15 million dollars worth of something.
The 46-year-old donated $15,000,000 to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to permanently block any kind of development on this land. This enormous sum of money will ensure that nothing will harm this region, its wildlife or plants. Just look at some of the beauties this money will help protect!
This here is the South Mountain Gray-cheeked Salamander. It's a Globally Critically Imperiled species found in Box Creek Wilderness and is one of several regionally and locally endemic species, which occur nowhere else in the world. Sweeney's contribution will ensure its home remains untouched.
Though the game developer has bought more than 40,000 acres within the state and donated other areas for conservation, this is his largest to date. The Box Creek Wilderness is closed to the public now, but there are ways of visiting!
"It's still in private ownership but the easement ensures it can never be developed. It's not open to anyone in the public at any time, but people can email and get a permission card and go and enjoy it." — Tim Sweeney
In these dark times as humans boil the planet and decimate wildlife population, it's wonderful to see people like Tim Sweeney using their inordinate wealth to help keep certain pockets of the planet safe from our despicable meddling. Nice one, Tim.