We support the gamers who play games and volunteer for charity. BigHeartedGamers.com wants to recognize people who support their communities, locally or at large.
What was the game that turned you into a gamer?
The game that turned me into a gamer would have to be The Legend of Zelda on the NES. My mother was really deep into video games in that era, and she always kept her games to play with me. Zelda was the first game that I got to pick out and discover for myself,
What video game charities do you play or volunteer for?
Extra Life is my main focus. It’s so broad and inclusive to all games, and allows people to raise money for their local children through Children’s Miracle Network. Everything about Extra Life is what I would want out of a gaming charity.
Do you volunteer or support any non-gaming charities?
My Extra Life team consists of many international participants, choosing hospitals at will, or that they have some tangential connection to. As a result, our community started a marathon event to raise money for more international affairs, such as Doctors without Borders and Pencils of Promise . Though they are non-gaming in nature, our event is a weekend of gaming marathons to raise that money.
What made you decide to play for charity?
I got started playing games for charity in a very unexciting way. I saw a post on the forums of Giant Bomb advertising team sign ups and told myself ‘That’s easy, and I’d be helping!’ So I signed up. Five years later, I’m the Detroit Guild President, I’ve raised and won thousands of dollars to help sick kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My first year of Extra Life, I played every console Power Rangers game thinking that I’d play games of my childhood heroes. I streamed it all from my iPhone taped to a tripod. I raised $200. Now, I turn my entire living room into a studio, set up a few air mattresses for my friends and family, and go all night. As soon as the marathon is over, we all get breakfast and plan for the next game day!
How do you promote your campaigns?
In the past, I haven’t done much promotion aside from telling friends and family, social media, and donation jars. I’m now the guild president for Detroit, and am in the process of starting a podcast, year-round streaming schedule, convention appearances, and more!
What are some of your most rewarding experiences in gaming for charity?
My most rewarding gaming experiences for charity is going to Extra Life United in Feb. 2016. I told myself I really needed to go after being unable to go the previous year. I booked a flight, found a room to share with complete strangers to try and win money for my hospital. I met about 150 people with the same goal, to help kids with games. I felt the immediate friends-for-life that you get at summer camp. We all bonded and it was an incredible experience. Through the tournament, I won $16,250 for my hospital, and my life was changed.
What is your defining “Big Hearted Gaming” moment?
The moment that cemented my efforts for ‘Big Hearted Gaming’ would have to be the time I set up and information table in the lobby of the hospital after touring the children’s hospital. It was so cool to actually see where my raised funds were going. I met some of the staff, saw the specialized equipment, met some kids and parents, and knew whatever I’d raise was going to a great place. I then set up a table in the lobby, and was shocked at how people were so supportive of what we were doing. Most of the staff were likely giving to the hospital through payroll, but they stopped to ask questions, sign up to help, and even give more. I was blown away.