When 17-year-old Zach Wigal first began organizing a Halo 2 tournament for his classmates at Saline High School, he never dreamt he’d start doing it for a living. After three months of planning, his Halo tournament was serendipitously cancelled by a superintendent after a local police officer raised concerns that video games were “corrupting the minds of America’s youth.” Seeking to refute the officer’s claims and prove video games could be a venue for good, Zach organized a new event to raise money for charity.
A Gamer’s Philanthropic Mission
Gamers Outreach Foundation was born. Facilitating donations for children undergoing medical treatment, Gamers Outreach hosted its 7th annual Gamers for Giving fundraising event at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center.
The event hosted tournaments for popular titles like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo 2 and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
The 2015 Gamers for Giving event streamed on Twitch. Competitive gamers and personalities like Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico — an on-air personality — and Kevin “Mr. Monopoli” Marnell — a world-record holder for Halo speed runs — attended the event.
This year, Gamers Outreach set a goal to raise $25,000 during its Gamers for Giving event. The organization raised over $57,000, nearly triple what the event raised last year.
The funds will be used to support Gamers Outreach Foundation’s Project GO Kart, which donates mobile gaming stations used for therapy and entertainment for over 26,000 hospitalized children each year. The organization is looking to impact more than 80,000 children in hospitals around the country this year.
Other Gaming-Based Charities
But Gamers Outreach isn’t the only organization using video games for philanthropy. Gamers everywhere are plugging in and logging on to make a difference.
Extra Life is an online grassroots movement raising money through 24-hour gaming streams to support children and families impacted by severe injury and illness. Donations pay for research, training, equipment and uncompensated care at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
Gamers for Change uses video games to facilitate humanitarian and educational efforts. An initiative launched in March triggered over 250,000 book donations and raised over $500,000 in direct and sponsored donations.
In 2012, UN-Habitat — a United Nations program focused on building sustainable towns and cities — partnered with the makers of Minecraft to involve communities in the development of public spaces worldwide.
Gaming Continues to Boom
The worldwide video game marketplace is forecasted to reach $111 billion this year, according to Gartner, a technology research and advisory firm. Twitch, the largest gaming video site, hosts about a million broadcasters who stream to some 45 million monthly users.
As the industry grows, gamers are finding new ways to combine philanthropy with gaming to facilitate donations for causes. Now more than a venue for entertainment, video games are bringing gamers together to exact change in the world, all without ever putting down the controller.