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Blog: General News


Founder of Charity-Gaming Talks Benefits of Video Games in Hospital

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Jim Weller (second from the right) is the Assistant Director of Patient Experience at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH), and we recently had the chance to sit down and discuss the benefits of video games for children in hospitals.

Jim has worked in hospitals his entire life, and is the founder of Charity-Gaming – a nonprofit organization that help kids stricken with illness feel like normal kids by providing an escape through video games. Charity-Gaming provides handheld gaming systems to patients to make their hospital stay more comfortable. Bonus feature: the patients actually keep the systems!

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Our partnership started when Jim was looking for a video game cart to purchase for SIUH. His research led him to Gamers Outreach – and after a bit of fundraising, Jim managed to construct two GO Karts for patients at the hospital! Most recently, Jim’s organization placed three more GO Karts within nearby facilities in New York, bringing his total number of GO Karts constructed to 5 units.

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Another strong motivator for Jim was his own experience seeing his father treated at the hospital. Jim’s goal is to ensure every patient at every hospital has access to video games. There are many benefits to having video games accessible at the bedside, including building math skills and inspiring creativity with games like Minecraft. Video games are powerful developmental tools for kids to build critical thinking and, we believe as does Jim, that the full potential of this has not been tapped. With the help of video games, Jim notes an upswing in not only patient happiness, but hospital staff happiness as well as the parents of the patients.

We look forward to working together with Jim on our combined quest to provide access to video games to every child being treated at a hospital.

Four Ways To Build Your Own GO Kart

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With the new production process complete, it’s now cheaper and more accessible than ever to build a Gamers Outreach Kart (GO Kart)!

Not familiar? GO Karts are portable video game kiosks built specifically for the medical environment. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, and assortment of games. GO Karts enable nurses to easily provide bedside activities to children in hospitals who are unable to leave their rooms for extended periods of time. Each kart offers a safe and efficient way to ensure kids have access to entertainment.

Once constructed, GO Karts make an impact that lasts for many years. Our first GO Kart was built in 2009 and still exists in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital! We estimate a GO Kart is used (on average) by ~8 children per day, which means a single unit could benefit nearly 3,000 patients per year!

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The donor commitment for each GO Kart is $3,500 – which covers everything – the kart itself, gaming console, games, monitor, controllers, freight shipping (to any hospital in the mainland U.S.) setup, and a 2 year warranty!

Interested in building a GO Kart for your local hospital? Here are four ways you can get started:

Fundraising Platform
Looking for a way to collect donations from friends, coworkers, or fans on social media? Make use of the of the Gamers Outreach Fundraising platform! Each fundraising page can be uniquely tailored to your story. Customize your page by inserting your own fundraising video or stream (or use the default we provide). You can also add a description to your page, sharing why this cause is important to you, and asking friends for support. The goal for a GO Kart is set at $3,500, but you can also edit this amount to a custom goal (perhaps if you’d like to build multiple karts, or just generally fundraise). If you’re interested in building a GO Kart and raising funds on an on-going basis, our fundraising platform is the most streamlined way to get the job done! Once you’ve completed your GO Kart campaign, you’ll receive a congratulatory email, and one of our team members will get in touch to start the conversation about your new GO Kart donation!

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Organize a Community Event
Start your own gaming event, go door to door, throw a charity soccer tournament at school, the possibilities are endless! The old school methods are tried and true. You can’t go wrong putting in some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, and the more accessible you make your event, the easier it will be to start the groundswell of support. Sporting tournaments are a great idea – especially if you’re in middle school or high school and have access to plenty of people and simple marketing. Pick the most popular sport at your school and downsize the roster requirement to allow more teams to participate. If you want to have a football tournament, make it a 5v5 flag football tournament; if you want to have a soccer or basketball tournament, make it 3v3; or any other sport! Or maybe your school has a gaming club (if not, you should be the one to get it started!) that would have interest in helping to organize a fundraiser. The big takeaway here is this: activities help bring people together and can be a great way to raise money. You just have to pick one and get started! Contact some local businesses for sponsorship and ask for gift cards or prizes for the winners. To reduce your stress as the tournament organizer, be sure to have people enter by donating on the Gamers Outreach Fundraising platform. You won’t have to worry about collecting money, and your supporters will be able to receive individual tax receipts!

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Summon Your Fellow Gamers
Through the power of streaming sites, like Twitch, you can broadcast your fundraiser to the masses! Hop on the sticks (or mouse and keyboard), and start streaming your favorite game in support of the cause. Take this to the next level by organizing a streaming marathon with your friends. We’ve had marathons last up to a full week, featuring multiple streamers in shifts, but you can play for as long or short as you’d like. Similar to organizing a community event, you can reach out to companies for donations so that your stream will be packed with giveaways and other fun activities for the viewers. Don’t forget to drop that link to your fundraising page in your panels and blast it out all over social media!

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Direct Contribution
Perhaps you’re in a position to directly contribute $3,500. Sponsoring a GO Kart build or purchasing a unit for a hospital is fairly straightforward. Simply email us at contact@gamersoutreach.org letting us know you’d like to acquire a unit. We can provide you with an invoice, or you can make a straight donation on our website. Just be sure to drop us an email so we can know where you’d like your GO Kart sent! We’ll follow up with all the usual questions, and even help organize a visit with the hospital if it’s of interest! We recognize all our donors atop each GO Kart – so sponsoring a unit could be a great charity project for your workplace!

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Got another idea for how to build GO Karts? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Thinking about getting started yourself? In the words of a famous sports company – JUST DO IT! But most importantly, GL HF. We can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish for kiddos in hospitals!

Annual Summary: 2016 – 2017

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The year-end is an exciting time. It’s an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and preparation.

I often think on our role within hospitals as a video game industry charity, and how we can be of help to patients. To that end, our purpose remains clear: Gamers Outreach exists to inspire and heal patients through the power of interactive play. By providing equipment, technology, and software to hospitals, we’re actively working to ensure children have access to activities during treatment. At our core, we’re a group of video game enthusiasts eager to make a difference.


Through the last decade of service, we’ve come to learn a lot about the healthcare environment. As our programs have expanded – and the breadth of supported hospitals has increased –  I’ve become more convinced of the incredible benefit games have in the hospital setting. I’ve also been surprised to realize how much work there is yet to be done. We’ve talked extensively about the role of video games in hospitals, and we know hospital staff turn to games as a way to provide children with access to activities. However, many hospitals still lack streamlined hardware mechanisms that ensure content is available to patients. With that, we also know it’s often difficult for staff to actively manage equipment and accessories even when they’re made available.

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One of our solutions has been Project GO Kart, and the majority of our focus this past year has been on effectively scaling the manufacturing process of the carts to meet the demands of hospitals nationwide. Even while undergoing manufacturing upgrades, 2017 was a strong period of growth, and the generosity we’ve seen from the gaming community has astounded our team. Our outreach has expanded significantly in the course of the past year. In our last annual report, I mentioned Gamers Outreach programs were benefiting an estimated 105,000 children across 19 hospitals. Since then, the impact of our programs has more than doubled. At the time of this writing, Project GO Kart is benefiting as many as 236,000 patients in nearly 30 hospitals around the U.S.

What’s more, thanks to some major fundraising events and partners this year, (e.g. PUBG, Child’s Play, Gamers for Giving 2017) in 2018 we expect Gamers Outreach programs to be of service to more than 800,000 children in nearly 200 healthcare facilities.

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With this expansion comes the need for increased capacity. We’re actively recruiting volunteers willing to help fulfill Gamers Outreach programs at their local hospital. For us, volunteer opportunities within hospitals take on a couple different forms:

  • Player 2: Though only available in a select few hospitals, by Q2 2018 we anticipate rolling out a dedicated program page for the Player 2 initiative on our website. Through Player 2, we’ve been inviting gamers to serve as “digital activity managers.” Volunteers help solve minor tech problems, distribute software, and play games with patients. As of this writing, Player 2 exists in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and recently launched in Rady Children’s Hospital (San Diego).
  • GO Kart Race Crew: We’re looking for volunteers throughout the U.S. & Canada who can assist with regional GO Kart deliveries. As a Race Crew member, you’ll be volunteering to ensure GO Karts are fully operational once they’ve been shipped to hospitals. If you’re interested, check out the full write-up here.

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As you can see, the next several months will be quite busy for our team. However, even with the dramatic expansion of supported patients, we’re barely reaching the incredible volume of children hospitalized annually. Each year, millions of kids are treated across hundreds of hospitals around the country, and we’ve realized the benefit in teaming up with other folks working in the hospital setting. In 2018, you’ll see us joining up with groups like Child’s Play and AbleGamers to extend our collective impact. Earlier in the year, we also partnered with organizations like GameChanger charity to help drive awareness of the various ways games can help in hospitals. In other words, yes – 2017 marked the beginning of the video game charity justice league, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this work with such wonderful partners.

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This growth wouldn’t be possible without the help of our community. In 2016, total public support for Gamers Outreach programs tallied nearly $430,000.00. And while it won’t be formally noted until next year’s report – our 2017 revenue is hovering between $1.5 – $2 million. Funding in support of our initiatives is largely driven by grassroots contributions via the gaming community and hospital donor networks. That said, in the last year, we’ve been able to diversify our revenue streams to include a slightly wider spread of grants and program-related services. Thankfully we’ve been able to maintain fairly lean operating costs alongside this increase in resources. Our 2016 management and operating expenses accounted for less than 13% of total expenditures. For those curious, our full 2016 Form 990 can be found here.

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A major driver of Gamers Outreach culture and impact is our annual fundraiser, Gamers for Giving. Through ticket sales, online donations, sponsorship, and with the help of Twitch broadcasters – more than $315,000 was generated at our 2017 event! In 2018, we’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Gamers for Giving – truly a momentous occasion. It was in 2008 we hosted our first LAN party (one that didn’t get shut down by police), marking the start of Gamers Outreach programs. The event will be taking place on April 28th / 29th, and we’ll be chasing down a $350,000 fundraising goal! This will certainly be the largest fundraiser we’ve organized, and we can’t wait to chase down the goal with all our attendees and supporters online. If you’re near Michigan or feel like making the trip, we invite you to join us! Registration will open on January 26th, and information for the event will be posted on GamersforGiving.org.

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From everyone at team Gamers Outreach, we’d like to thank you for your support throughout 2016 & 2017! It’s a privilege to do this work, and we look forward to making an even greater impact for children and their families in 2018!

Have a wonderful new year! We’ll see you in 2018!

Zach Wigal
Founder, Gamers Outreach

Xbox Holiday Giveaway – Thanks PUBG!

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Over the past year, we’ve been honored to receive an incredible amount of support from our friends at PUBG Corp. Collectively, with help from the community, the PUBG team has been able to raise more than $363,000 in support of Gamers Outreach programs.

That’s a lot of chicken dinners… and GO Karts for kiddos.

It all started earlier this year with the 2017 Charity Invitational. During a single 12 hour event, streamers joined together to raise more than $200,000 for Gamers Outreach, with $100K coming via a direct contribution from the game’s developers. Closing out the year strong, PUBG and Twitch recently teamed up again to host a winter charity fundraiser – generating an additional $140,000 to further our work in hospitals.

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And did we mention 50% of their merchandise sales are being donated to Gamers Outreach and our friends at GameChanger? How generous can one game dev be!?

As a small token of appreciation, we’re giving away five game keys for the newest iteration of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, recently made available on Xbox!

You can enter for the chance to win by clicking here.

Each action grants an additional entry, so be sure to increase your chances!

Our deepest thanks go out to PUBG Corp. and the community of gamers who’ve helped been a part of this year’s massive fundraising effort. We can’t wait for you to all see the result of this work as GO Karts are deployed nationwide!

 

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.

 

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!