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Player 2 Interview: Meet Jon Shim

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Player 2 volunteer Jon Shim plays games with a patient at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Interested in volunteering? Check out this blog to learn how you can be a part of the Player 2 pilot!

Late last year, we unveiled a new program we’ve been piloting within the walls of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital called Player 2. Through the program, gamers have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired through gaming in a manner that supports patients and staff within hospitals.

So far, it’s been going well! Back in February, we posted this interview with Dave Anderson – one of the first volunteers to participate in the program.

Today we’re highlighting a recent conversation with Jon Shim, another volunteer who’s been working inside of Mott to help ensure kids have access to games and activities. Our questions are in bold. Let’s dive in!

Thanks for chatting with us, Jon! Mind telling us a little about yourself?

Sure! My name is Jon Shim, and I’m a full time grad student at Eastern Michigan University. I’m currently working towards an MBA in Marketing. When I’m not gaming, you can find me on a soccer or baseball field. I was the captain of EMU’s Club soccer team, and currently enjoy playing vintage baseball!

That’s an impressive array of activities you’ve got on your plate! How did you find out about Gamers Outreach and Player 2?

Shortly before class one day I was standing in the hallway and saw a flyer advertising Gamers for Giving. I was interested in seeing the event, so a few friends and I decided to sign up for the LAN party. We had a great time, and started attending regularly each year. I found out about Player 2 through twitter.

I really enjoyed attending Gamers for Giving, and I liked the mission of Gamers Outreach. Over time, I became interested in wanting to get involved. I figured a good first step would be to support activities in the hospital, and Player 2 seemed like a perfect fit. Being able to give back to the community is an incredible feeling. It’s been great getting to know all the staff and families at the hospital.

How has your experience as a Player 2 volunteer been so far?

Overall it’s been fantastic. It’s definitely been a learning experience. Depending on the patient, we have to take different precautions or put on medically-safe clothing. Learning about all those procedures took a bit of time, but the hospital trained us really well. It’s also been fun learning about what all the kids like specifically.  I’ve really enjoyed playing with and getting to know the kids. This whole program is making an incredible impact. As volunteers, we get a lot out of it too. You really feel better after leaving the hospital, and it’s a great way to play video games. For someone who’s looking for a volunteer opportunity, I’d recommend getting involved!

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What were your expectations going into the program? Has there been anything that’s surprised you?

Originally I thought the entire volunteer program was going to be pure gameplay, but it’s actually been much more than that. Part of my role has been to go around to different rooms, knock on doors, and ask kids if they want to check out any games. We not only help make sure kids are having fun, but we assist the hospital with managing equipment and inventory.

Right now, we go to three different floors – some of the patients are in the hospital for 1 to 3 days. Another floor is a cancer floor, and there, most of the patients are more long-term. Some of them check out for a couple weeks and then check back into the hospital later, but the majority of patients we interact with we only see once or twice.

It’s all very rewarding. You can see how excited kids get every time we come by with the game cart. Video games are a really big deal in the hospital, and they give the kids something to do.

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Who doesn’t love Lego Batman? Each room at our local children’s hospital is equipped with an Xbox 360 thanks in part to a delivery we helped facilitate in 2014.

Do you have any specific memories or stories you’re able to share?

There was a child I worked with who was looking for someone to play with all day. He was in a room where we had to take extra precaution. He doesn’t get the chance to interact with other kids a lot because of the restrictions in place on his room. Anytime someone goes in to seem him, we have to put on special outfits – apron, gloves, masks – to ensure the room is medically safe.

I spent the whole day playing Minecraft with him, and we built all kinds of things. He was so happy to have someone playing with him, and he asked me if I would come play with him again later. It was a really great feeling.

What’s the reaction been like from hospital staff and parents?

The parents have been absolutely thrilled. They thank us a ton. This gives the kids something to do, and it takes stress off the parents as well. The kids themselves: super excited. They like it when you explain a new game to them. They’re really just happy to have someone there who wants to spend time with them.

The staff have been very responsive. They’re so eager to tell us when kids need help or when we can to go a room to help a particular child. The most supportive staff members have been the playroom workers. They’re able to stay engaged, and help guide our daily activities. They tell us sometimes what rooms to go in and what rooms we shouldn’t bother in case someone is having an off day.

This is all so awesome to hear, Jon. Thanks so much for volunteering. Any final thoughts?

It’s really been a great experience overall. I would definitely recommend this, especially if you’re someone interested in going into the medical field. As a gamer, this program has been so much fun to be a part of. I hope to continue participating.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Jon!

We’re so glad Jon and other Player 2 volunteers have had a positive experience in this first round of the program’s pilot phase. We hope to soon feature stories from others who’ve been a part of this initial effort.

We’ll soon be starting our second phase of the pilot! Interested in being a part of Player 2? Check out this blog we posted to learn how you can get involved!