Video games are a large part of my life. And when anybody takes video games and uses them to make the world a better place, that’s a banner day in my opinion. And that’s exactly what the Gamers Outreach Foundation is setting out to accomplish.
The Gamers Outreach Foundation was founded in 2007 after Saline High School student Zach Wigal’s local video game tournament was canceled by a police officer who believed that video games were corrupting America’s youth. Wigal, determined to prove that gamers can do good, created the Gamers For Giving charity event in 2008, in which gamers get together to play video games for charity. The event still goes on to this day, with this year’s tournament taking place on April 1st and 2nd.
Then, in 2009, Gamers Outreach approached C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital to collaborate by offering the sick children video games to play. The tremendous positive impact that the video games had on the hospital morale was quickly evident. And, within 6 months, GO created their first “GO Kart.” The GO Kart is a specially designed portable, medical-grade gaming center created specifically to bring video games to children who could not leave their hospital bed. The GO Kart Project, along with the Gamers For Giving events, is the foundation’s main point of focus, looking to get the karts in as many hospitals as possible.
And while some may not exactly see how the GO Kart can help, the benefits are certainly quantifiable. Not only do the karts help make the hospital a less lonely and scary experience for the children, but they can actually have positive physical effects on the children. For example, an article from Engadget describes a young boy who would need multiple nurses to hold him down in order to change the dressings on his arm due to the pain. However, once he was introduced to the Go Kart, the young boy was able to focus on the video game, playing with one hand while nurses tended to his arm. The process went from an hour long ordeal to a 20 minute process because of the GO Kart.
The organization has grown since its humble beginnings, earning media attention from news outlets and even industry executives, such as Xbox’s Head of Marketing, Aaron Greenberg. With Greenberg’s help, GO was able to raise several tens of thousands of dollars to fund the creation of more GO Karts.
Again, I personally appreciate seeing an industry that I’m so attached to do good for the community. Hopefully GO can continue to thrive and get a GO Kart in every children’s hospital in the country.