Featured Big Hearted Gamer: Jesse Henning

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?

“Do I have to pick one? I’ve been gaming about as long as I could reach a keyboard. My parents brought home an Apple IIe when I was three years old, and I cannot think of a time I haven’t been playing since then.”

What video game charities do you play or volunteer for?

Extra Life is the big one! The fact that I can help a cause to help out kids and families in my own home community is a big deal for me, and the fact that it’s for Children’s Hospitals is very important. I know a lot of people who have had to make use of such facilities, and to hear them describe the life-changing — and life-saving — work that goes on there… I think you’d have to be made of stone not to be touched.

I’ve also contributed to charities like St. Jude’s and Child’s Play.”

What made you decide to play for charity?

“I’ll level with you; I got into this for all the wrong reasons. A friend of mine was doing an Extra Life campaign, and when I read about it, I was just amused by the idea of a 24-hour gaming marathon. I figured, if I could bring in some money for a good cause in the bargain, that’d be icing on the cake.

Then the donations started coming in. Before I knew it, I had my entire family and a massive circle of friends pitching in, and telling me their stories about what Children’s Hospitals were really all about. Suddenly my modest “”let’s raise $500!”” had quadrupled, and I realized I could make a real difference. I wound up linking with my local hospital liaison, concentrating my efforts, and now, three years in, I’ve raised over $12,000.

I have never felt so humbled to know the people that I know as I do when I say that.”

How do you promote your campaigns?

“Every way I know how. Whenever Extra Life’s game day starts getting closer, my Twitter and Facebook feed turn into a (probably annoying) cavalcade of updates, reminders, and begging. I email my close family and friends. I bring it up in conversations. I wear the shirts. I stream. I do game giveaways.

Most importantly, I keep up on all of the great people I’ve met who are also participating in Extra Life, St. Jude’s, and the rest. I try to learn from them; work to be more like them; try to live up to their examples. You’re always going to do your best work ‘selling’ something that you personally believe in. When something is important to you, the people who care about you will know it.”

What are some of your most rewarding experiences in gaming for charity?

“Last year, an amazing cousin of mine hit the “”maximum donation”” button ($1337!!) while I was live on Twitch, and I pretty much lost my mind.”

I’m also in the uniquely fortunate position of working in the games industry with a number of publishers and developers, and ever since I connected to the Extra Life leadership, I’ve done what I can to get involved on a more ambitious level. This year I convinced one of my clients to dedicate a Humble Bundle to Extra Life, and I’d guess it brought in $20,000 for the charity!”

Is there anything else we should know about you in regards to being a “Big Hearted” Gamer?

“To this day, I maintain that I have no idea how this happened, but I’m pretty sure I have the best friends and family on the planet. If you try to claim otherwise, I will have to fight you.”

Thank you Jesse! You can support Jesse and his endeavors with Extra Life on his participant page. Are you a Big Hearted Gamer? We would love to hear from you! Strike up a conversation with @bigheartedgamer on Twitter.

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