I've spent some time working with charities over the years, and I've been in many companies that donated time and effort towards a charitable cause. That said, this is the first time I've seen anything like this done. (And pardon me if I gush a bit, but this is one of the reasons I'm a devoted Blizzard fangirl.)
Recently Blizzard had the honor to have a 10-year old join their Development team - if only for one day. You see the boy, Ezra Chatterton, has a brain tumor. The diagnosis is not too good. But despite the news, and facing a lot of treatment, Ezra's wanted one thing and one thing only since he woke up in the hospital -- to be allowed to play World of Warcraft.
You see, Ezra's parents are divorced. While he spends time with both of his parents, playing WoW is a special treat that Ezra and his father, Micah Chatterton, share. This is largely because his father was also interested in WoW since the original release. The only problem was that money was too tight to buy a system, pay for an account and Internet. So that dream went by the wayside until last fall -- when his house burned to the ground. (Talk about adding insult to injury...) Since Ezra had lost all of the toys he had at his father's house, he and his father agreed to get a computer, Internet and WoW together so that they could play. Since then, the two have bonded much closer than ever before, and love to spend long hours discussing all different aspects of the game.
Blizzard, hearing about Ezra's wish, arranged a whirlwind trip at Blizzard's main offices in almost no time. Ezra got to spend a long day with Jeff Kaplan designing a new weapon (a legendary flame-shooting crossbow), and a new character and quest. (Ahab Wheathoof) He was even allowed to add his dog Kyle to the game for the "lost dog" quest he designed. From there, he was taken to a recording studio and allowed to record his own voice-overs for this new character. On top of that, Blizzard bumped Ezra's own personal character to L70, outfitted him with all the best gear, gave him tons of gold. But before they were done, he was given the abilities of a GM, if only temporarily. This allowed him to have the power to death-touch some of the mobs recently on the PTR when it came time to test Supremus.
After a long day, Ezra was thrilled, and understandably exhausted. He seemed to be in an incredibly good mood, with thoughts of his future and what he wants to do when he recovers. You see, he's planning for his future as a paid developer & play tester for Blizzard -- a lofty goal I truly hope that he someday attains.
[via OC Register, thanks to Boubouille]
*edit* My apologies to Ezra's mother, Elizabeth for the misunderstanding on my part. I have changed the post to reflect the correct information.