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Save The Date: Gamers for Giving 2018

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Exciting news, fellow gamers! Our next annual Gamers for Giving event will take place on the weekend of April 28th & 29th, 2018!

In case you’re not familiar: Gamers for Giving is a LAN party + streamathon that generates resources for Gamers Outreach programs. Through ticket sales, sponsorship, and online donations, last year’s event raised more than $300,000 in support of providing entertainment devices to children’s hospitals around the nation (which we are now deploying)!

Gamers for Giving will once again take place within the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, a venue which hosts a wide array of events including concerts, trade-shows, and banquets. Tickets will go on sale in the month of January (date TBA).

We’ll release more information regarding the 2018 event over the coming months – including our fundraising goals, streaming schedule, and list of activities. As usual, you can expect a full weekend of competitive tournaments and casual LAN camaraderie.

You can stay in sync with the latest news related to Gamers for Giving 2018 by following the Gamers for Giving blog, or following Gamers Outreach on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to use the official hashtag #GFG2018 on Twitter!

2018 is going to be a massive year for Gamers Outreach. As of this blog post, we’re in the process of scaling our programs from ~30 facilities to nearly 200 across the U.S., Canada, and even a couple hospitals overseas! We can’t wait to share our progress with you at Gamers for Giving. We’re looking forward to another year of gaming competitions and streams in support of hospitalized patients!

Hope to see you at the EMU Convocation Center on April 28th & 29th, 2018!

Gamers Outreach & AbleGamers Team Up For Kids With Disabilities

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Today, we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with our friends at AbleGamers, a charity organization that provides equipment to children and adults with disabilities who need help accessing video games.

We’ll be partnering with AbleGamers to outfit select GO Karts with their “Expansion Packs” – an assortment of specialized controllers and devices which help make games more accessible to hospital patients with limited mobility. The official press release with all the details can be found below!

It also helps that our organization colors are fairly similar. #TeamOrange

Gamers Outreach and AbleGamers Team Up for Kids with Disabilities
Charity orgs unite to promote gaming accessibility for hospitalized children.

Los Angeles – October 17th, 2017 – Gamers Outreach and AbleGamers are thrilled to announce a new partnership to bring fun to children and adults with disabilities in the hospital setting. AbleGamers is a charity organization that grants custom-made, 3-D printed and specialized equipment to people with disabilities who need help accessing video games. Gamers Outreach is an organization that provides a gaming kiosks (GO Karts) to enable videogames to be brought to anyone anywhere in the hospital. The two charities are partnering to expand accessible gaming opportunities within pediatric environments by equipping select GO Karts with Expansion Packs.

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Expansion Packs by AbleGamers are customized packages of equipment provided to healthcare professionals which contain an assortment of assistive technology such as modified controllers and custom devices used to enable people with disabilities to play video games. AbleGamers also provides accessibility experts to install and maintain these Expansion Packs throughout the life of the project. First launched in early 2016, Expansion Packs have been donated to facilities with multiple special needs patients as a way to ensure gaming experiences are widely accessible.

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GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable video game kiosks constructed specifically for the hospital environment. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, games, monitor, controllers, and occasionally VR devices. GO Karts are secure mobile entertainment units which allow hospital staff to easily provide children with access to recreation at the bedside environment or during long-term treatment.

Gamers Outreach plans to offer AbleGamers’ Expansion Packs as accessories to GO Karts, with the hope of expanding the variety of materials available to hospital staff who support patients with limited mobility. The partnership will kick off with a joint donation being made to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“In the hospital environment, we support a wide array of patients, including children who have limited mobility,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach. “There’s an obvious synergy between our programs and the work of AbleGamers. The Expansion Packs equipped to our GO Karts will provide healthcare professionals with a diverse entertainment toolkit. Ultimately, we believe these devices will help ensure the joy of gaming is experienced by all patients, regardless of their circumstances.”

“The work we do to support people with disabilities is bigger than us.” said Steven Spohn, AbleGamers COO. “There are 33 million children, adults and veterans with disabilities in America alone. Gamers Outreach has been a friend and ally since the creation of both organizations. It’s a natural fit, now that we both have generous supporters who believe in helping those in need, to come together and help even more people. Together, we will ensure that children inside the hospital and at home can enjoy a distraction from the sometimes scary hospital environment.”

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The partnership will be celebrated October 20th – 22nd at TwitchCon 2017 through a joint exhibition between the two organizations. Streamers and gaming fans attending TwitchCon will have the chance to learn more about each group’s work and contribute to the cause.

More information about the two charities can be found at www.GamersOutreach.org and www.AbleGamers.org.

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About AbleGamers

The AbleGamers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that wields the power of video games to break down the barriers of economic and social isolation for people with disabilities. Through received support and donations, AbleGamers provides disabled gamers with assistive technologies (including their Expansion Pack program) that allow those with limited real-world mobility to experience what it is like to walk, run, climb, drive and even fly – in a virtual world.

About Gamers Outreach

Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community. Hospitalization can often be a lonely, isolating, and scary experience for young people. Gamers Outreach eases those burdens by providing equipment, technology, and software that help kids cope with long-term treatment.

Microsoft Giving Campaign

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Each year, Microsoft employees participate in fundraising and volunteer activities which support a diverse number of charities. In 2016 alone, more than $142 million was contributed to nonprofits and schools across the globe.

Through the “Giving Campaign,” Microsoft matches employee donations to nonprofits dollar-for-dollar, up to $15K. The Giving Campaign takes place throughout the year, with a special push every October.

This year, we’re proud to announce Gamers Outreach will be visiting Microsoft as a “featured charity” among the many causes Microsoft employees contribute towards. We’ll be hanging out on Microsoft’s Redmond campus on October 9th, 11th, and 19th to raise funds / awareness for Gamers Outreach programs and our anticipated expansion.

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If you’re an employee at Microsoft, we hope to see you throughout the month of October, and look forward to sharing the progress being made in pediatric hospitals nationwide. You can support our efforts and unlock a matching contribution from Microsoft through the Benevity charity portal by searching for “Gamers Outreach Foundation.”

For any of you that may have available hardware or software, we are currently seeking in-kind contributions for controllers, consoles, and games! Anything you can spare would be truly appreciated.

Hope to see you on campus!

Gamers Outreach Receives Community Service Award from SXSW

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Awesome news to share, fellow gamers! We’re proud to announce Gamers Outreach has been selected to receive a Community Service Award from the organizers of SXSW!

The SXSW Community Service Awards celebrate the unique spirit of community in Austin by selecting six individuals and six organizations to receive grants to further their goals, complimentary badges to SXSW, and a chance to spread the word about their work to the SXSW community. As an award recipient, we’ll be one of the organizations to receive more than $50,000 in shared grants and be honored in a ceremony on March 12, 2018 during SXSW.

The free and open to the public ceremony does not require a SXSW badge to attend and is one of the most anticipated events hosted by SXSW in March. You can read more about the award and the selection process here.

Team members from Gamers Outreach will be attending next year’s event to accept this award, and to speak with the SXSW community about our quest to support hospitalized patients through digital play.

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We’re super thankful to the folks from SXSW for creating this award, and recognizing the impact being made by so many great causes, including our own! We can’t wait to advocate for the patients and families who benefit from the support of our community. We hope this brings more awareness to the importance of interactive technologies within medical environments, and ultimately generates more support for the work being done!

Looks like we’ll be seeing you in March, SXSW! Massive thanks!

Lurie Children’s Hospital Adds Four More GO Karts

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This past July, Lurie Children’s Hospital brought its grand total of GO Karts in its wing to 7 thanks to the effort of its Child Life department.

Located in the Windy City, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) has more than 1,200 physicians on staff and has been treating kids in the midwest for 130 years. For a major hospital in the heart of the country, 7 GO Karts can do wonders for the team’s efforts when it comes to boosting the moods of patients and their families, or assisting with physical therapy if any injuries or ailments correspond to any of the tissue or function also used while gaming.

We were lucky enough to submit a robust lineup of possible gaming titles for patients to choose from as well, including Rocket League, Minecraft, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, NASCAR Heat, and the Mega Man Legacy collection. A wide breadth of titles means all the more adventures to choose from those who truly need it most, and we’re thankful to the teams and companies that brought them to life and continue to update them.

Special thank you also goes out to the entire team at Lurie Children’s Hospital for being so incredible to work with every step of the way — we hope these Karts bring your staff and their patients some more joy and laughter each and every day.

 

NETWAR Gears Up for LANFest Oct. 6-7

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Since this past spring, we’ve been extremely fortunate to have a number of individuals, organizations, and corporations contribute to our dream of delivering and maintaining GO Karts in every children’s hospital in the country (and one day, the world over). From the teams at Xbox and Bluehole Inc., to Child’s Play and the Dooley family (to name a few), more children and their families have good reason to smile and laugh a little more each day due to the kindness and generosity of the aforementioned men and women. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you, that much is clear.

Anyway, you can’t really open a blog post like that and be surprised when we tell you that at The Mark on October 6th and 7th, NETWAR — the Omaha, Nebraska chapter of the national LANFest organization — will host one of its biannual BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) weekends with Gamers Outreach (and by extension, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha) being the charitable focus of the proceedings. Tickets to this incredible 586 seat, 26 hour-long LAN are still available but hurry: If you planned on attending but haven’t registered yet, they’re going fast! Passes can be purchased online here. Have a specific question about anything pertaining to the event? Their info page is a good place to start.

For announcements leading up to the event or updates the weekend of, you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

 

GO Karts Revving Up This October

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In late July, we dropped one of the biggest announcements in the history of Gamers Outreach. In case you missed it: we’re partnering with an organization called Child’s Play to construct GO Karts for more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada!

With support from Child’s Play, we’ve also been able to upgrade our manufacturing process. Fellow build-geeks will be excited to hear we’ve updated our tooling from vacuum forming to injection molding. Injection mold tools allow for higher quality finishes on plastic materials, and reduce costs associated with building large numbers of GO Karts.

One of the tools used to construct the base of a GO Kart!

One of the tools used to construct the base of a GO Kart!

To that end, we’re pleased to share we’ve nearly finished the upgraded tools, and as mentioned in the Child’s Play announcement, are currently on track to roll out the latest batch of GO Karts this coming October!

In addition to the GO Karts built on behalf of Child’s Play, we’ll also be deploying units funded by donors / streaming efforts in the last year – including karts supported by events such as Gamers for Giving and the PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS fundraiser! Collectively, more than 200 GO Karts are being constructed for hospitalized children!

This is a massive quantity of units, representing more than twice as many GO Karts as we’ve ever constructed to date! Our current expectation is to fulfill deliveries throughout the months of October 2017 – February 2018.

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Interested in getting involved? We’re looking for volunteers across the U.S. and Canada to help equip GO Karts with gaming peripherals once they arrive to hospitals! Volunteer applications can be submitted here. Once we start scheduling deliveries, we’ll reach out if a unit is expected to be deployed in your area!

As always, we’re incredibly grateful to the gaming community for supporting this work in pediatric hospitals. The need for activities and recreation in these environments is massive, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing joy and relief to hospitalized kiddos across the land.

 

NZXT Donating Portion of Online Sales 8/30-9/5 to Gamers Outreach!

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While it may be true our GO Karts currently house consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, but that doesn’t stop PC-centric companies like NZXT from wanting to help support so many of the children’s hospitals across the country that could benefit from a GO Kart.

For online purchases made from August 30th through September 5th, NZXT has pledged to donate 10% of each sale to us as part of their HUEmanatarian Labor Day Sale! They’ve slashed prices across the board in celebration of the holiday weekend, so if you’re in the market for any cases, cooling, or other PC accessories, you should definitely peruse the wide-selection available on their site.

If you pick anything up, we’d love to see it! Tweet us and NZXT a pic of what you snagged so we can witness your rig in all it’s newfound glory!

Helping Others Level Up at PAX West 2017

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If you’re attending PAX West in Seattle, we’ll be hosting another panel this year at 4:30pm in Sandworm Theater!

For “Helping Others Level Up: How Games Support Health Care”, the topic will be centered around how video games and virtual reality have incredible therapeutic potential within the hospital environment. Those attending will learn how games can be used to support the healing process, in addition to how you yourself can make a difference at your local hospital. A list of those comprising our stellar panel can be found below:

If you’re able to attend the panel and curious to revisit some of the discussion, check out the content roundup we’ve created here: PAX West 2017 Panel Discussion.

Independent of the panel above, Gamers Outreach crew members Zach Wigal and Nikki-Colette Manzie will be on two additional panels: “Play It Forward (Charity and Giving Back in Games” and “How to Broadcast Safely as a Marginalized Streamer,” respectively.

We hope to see you there!

Forbes 30 Under 30: Gamers Outreach Feature

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Earlier this year, Gamers Outreach founder Zach Wigal was recognized by Forbes as part of their 2017 class of “30 Under 30” honorees.

As a team, we’ve been proud to share this honor, and we’re thankful to Forbes for recognizing the work of our volunteers and donors who help us make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children.

Forbes recently dispatched a film crew to interview Zach in Los Angeles, where they had the chance to learn more about the impact Gamers Outreach programs have within hospitals. We’re incredibly proud of how the footage turned out, and feel it does a fantastic job of summarizing how games can help children going through treatment.

The video interview can be found below…

We continue to be grateful to everyone who has been a champion for the kids and families we support on a daily basis! Major thanks go out to the crew from Forbes for highlighting Gamers Outreach!

You can read the full write-up on their site, located here.