Opinions Clash Over Mastiff’s Pledge To Japan

I’m sure by now, all of you have heard about the tragedy in Japan and how leaders in the gaming industry have been recruiting gamers for the cause. Most recently, Bill Swartz, owner of Mastiff games, a specialty company that focuses on Wii shooting games, has pledged in the below open letter to donate $100 for every 100 people that ‘likes’ Mastiff’s Facebook page.

An open letter from Bill Swartz, President, CEO and Head Woof of Mastiff

Mastiff’s thoughts are with the millions affected by the immense disaster suffered by Japan this weekend. I am relieved to report that Mastiff’s staff and friends in Tokyo are all safe and accounted for.

The United States and Japan have accomplished great things together. The videogame industry in particular owes much of its success to the partnership of our two countries. Our work at Mastiff would not be the same without our Japanese employees, partners, and supporters.

I have loved Japan since before my first visit there in 1977. My wife, and my second language, are Japanese. I have spent more than 12 years of my life in that great country. I owe my career to the Japanese games industry, which gave me my first job out of college, working in product design for Koei (now called Tecmo Koei Games), located outside Tokyo in Yokohama. The Japanese industry continued to support me during a ten year stint as Managing Director at Activision Japan, a subsidiary of US game publisher Activision.

I hope that you will join Mastiff and me personally in helping Japan’s recovery. In addition to the funds that Mastiff and I are personally contributing already, Mastiff pledges that for every 100 people who like us on Facebook between now and the end of April, Mastiff will donate $100 to the Red Cross for Japan relief, up to $25,000. The Mastiff Facebook page can be seen at

Most Sincerely,
Bill Swartz

At the time of writing, there has been 869 ‘likes’ of the page, meaning that so far $800 will be donated, with another $100 coming in after 31 more people visit the page. However, many Facebook users are angered, as shown on this discussion board, by what Facebook user Michel Leung calls “some sick PR thing.” Facebook user Jenna Fang, among others, seems to agree, and calls for Mastiff to “just go ahead and donate the full $25, 000,” and goes on to say “As is, it seems like you’re using this disaster for free publicity.”

My take? Bill Swartz already said in his letter that he is personally contributing, and I think this is a pretty easy way to legitimately give some funds to the Japanese without actually giving any funds. Sure, you can just ‘like’ the Facebook page and ‘unlike’ it when the crisis subsides. At least, that’s what I’ll be doing. I haven’t played any games by Mastiff, and probably won’t, but Bill Swartz is definitely taking his place among the Japanese Gaming Greats that have spent enormous effort in helping their own country.

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