Gamers For Giving 2009
GAMERSOUTREACH.ORG - Guest writer Matt “Kirb” Somma talks about the Gamers For Giving 2009 event, held by www.GamersOutreach.org.
Insider eSports has been closely following the Gamers For Giving 2009 event, held by GamersOutreach.org. We were fortunate enough to recieve an article from Matt “Kirb” Somma to explain Gamers for Giving. Their event takes place this coming weekend, February 27th to March 1st - at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. His article is below:
“Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior.” (Craig A. Anderson, http://www.apa.org)
Recent studies have tried to prove a link between the effects of video games on teenagers today saying they result in increased aggression and decreased social behavior. However, a new movement is emerging that defies all recent studies.
As a junior in high School Zach “Sayper” Wigal would walk into his schools lunch and all he would hear around him were the stories of kids boasting and bragging about their recent achievements in Halo 2. He was tired of hearing people talk about it and no one doing anything so it was time to set the record straight. During lunch, Zach and a group of his friends decided to run a Halo 2 video game tournament hosted by their high school. After approaching their counselor about the idea who easily gave it the ok, Zach and his friends set off to solve their first problem. How do you run a gaming tournament? Three months later of tireless research and preparation they believed that they were ready. The group had collected various televisions and xbox’s in order to run the tournament and even went as far to purchase a new one to offer as a cash prize. This was set to be one of the biggest student body uniting events their school had ever seen as 300+ students had signed up.
However, all great visions are challenged and so would this one. Three days before the set launch day for the tournament a local police officer, belonging to a parental group dedicated to media censorship in their town, contacted the superintendent with a few complaints. This group had been successful in shutting down several other local events that they thought weren’t appropriate for teens and used similar arguments for this one. They were prepared to compare Halo to other games such as Grand Theft Auto and more claiming that games like these were “…corrupting the minds of American youth.” Zach and his friends were more shocked and disappointed than angry. Wasn’t this exactly what parents and teachers are always looking for their students to do? Get together and do something united? Due to the outrage of the kids and supporters, the cancellation got big. It started off getting media attention from local news papers and radio stations and slowly moved its way up. Soon it got to digg.com, larger newspapers, and finally to Bungie Studios. For those of you who are not as familiar with the gaming world, Bungie Studios is the creator of the widely acclaimed Halo series. Bungie was equally outraged that they had shut down this tournament because they thought it was great that a group of students could get together, plan, and execute a tournament of this size by themselves.
Zach and his friends were still determined to host a Halo tournament and were not going to let these studies about teenagers and video games get in their way, they were ready to become the exception. To prove the Parents Television Counsel wrong, Wigal and his friends believed that they could use their tournament to do some good in this world. And so began the idea for Gamers Outreach. With this new belief that he could use video games to raise funds for helping others our protagonist set out to plan the comeback tournament. Over 500 competitors and spectators showed up on the tournament date providing their support. This new tournament, Gamers For Giving, raised around $15,000 and donated the proceeds to the Autism Society of America.
After seeing the success that had come out of playing a video game, Zach realized that he could use this idea to do several other things beginning the concrete organization of Gamers Outreach. Along the way Zach picked up the support from several different people and companies eventually merging with Michigan’s largest LAN party MPCon, founded by Jeff Lundeberg. Also joining him on his five person board is David Walsh, acclaimed professional gamer who is known through his achievements in the Halo scene throughout the globe, his supportive father Rusty Wigal, and partner Nick Russell. Through this process, the greatest cause in E-Sports today was born.
Most new organizations start off relatively slow. They start off small, then work their way up to the big times to start really making an impact. However, after hosting a successful 500 person LAN tournament that raised thousands in charity, this was not the case for Gamers Outreach. Already, Gamers Outreach Foundation has raised over $30,000 and plan to keep increasing that figure. From the next event alone they plan to earn over $50,000 and by next year hopefully the six figure range. That’s a lot of money given to charity just by playing video games, and they thought that it was corrupting our youth and decreasing our helping behavior.
I next ask what were the current and future plans for this new organization towards charity. Zach Wigal wasn’t able to answer this in thirty seconds as the list of planned and completed projects goes out the door, figuratively speaking. Some of the direct plans that are going into effect are events like Gamers For Giving. Wigal also plans to team up with local children’s hospitals and provide newly designed video games to the patients, and send entertainment over to our troops overseas. Zach and his board also plan to adopt the ideas of other past visionaries and to support them. For example, a local school teacher in New York has been using Halo 3 to teach valuable lifelong lessons to his 8th graders. He has taught them things like teamwork and good leadership skills and has successfully connected to his student body. It’s ideas like these that show how much good can come out of playing games that have previously been labeled as destructive to our nations youth. Plans are also being implemented to host several other LAN’s and tournaments with games like Halo 3, Super Smash Brothers, Guitar Hero, Counter-Strike:Source, Counter-Strike 1.6, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty 4, Track Mania Nations Forever, and World of Warcraft.
After looking at recent articles targeting different community service outlets, researchers have shown that donations are down, way down, due to our current national recession. Food and can drives aren’t receiving as much and have to cut back on what they give to some families in order to reach everyone. So, with our current economic crisis how is Gamers Outreach any different? Well while certain aspects of our economy have tanked, technology has always flourished. Inventors, people with ideas, and companies will always be thinking of new ways to improve everything and anything. As we look at the entertainment industry we can see that games, movies, etc. are always being released and purchased in high quantities. Due to the fact that the entertainment industry is still doing better than most, Gamers Outreach Foundation has a step up on its fellow charities.
After hearing fellow gamers like myself impart so much wisdom to me in just a few comments I had to ask what advice they would give to other gamers. From the different board members each was a little different.
“If you have a vision or an idea for something or if you aspire to do something great trying to make a difference, it’s important to keep at it. Believe in yourself. Everyone who is at the professional level had to go through stages where things were not so great. Understand your vision and have goals. Goals are important, people who know where they are going succeed.” Zach “Sayper” Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach Foundation.
“Don‘t let anyone knock you down from what you believe in. If they tell you that you can‘t do it, tell them louder that you can.” Ken “Kenco” Konarzewski, LAN Event Coordinator.
Teenagers and kids will play video games anyway, so why not do a little good along the way while playing your favorite online game? Gamers Outreach is made to promote individual action among gamers and to use that action to address local community needs, almost like the United Way of gaming. Gamers Outreach is constantly promoting the idea that every little bit matters and helps. So what can you do to help out with this growing cause? Quite a few things in fact.
Do what you do best and play your favorite game at one of their events like Gamers For Giving is a great way to have a fun time and help out with a great cause. Advocating the vision for Gamers For Giving by simply joining a group on Facebook, or Steam and telling all your friends about it is only going to help even more. If your dedicated enough then why not try to start your own Gamers Outreach chapter in your town to help out with a local cause and ask one of the board for help in starting it? Finally, donations are probably one of the most key things you can do to help out this movement. When it comes time to make fliers to advertise for their next big event, Zach could be using your $5 that you donated last month to help.
Zach and everyone else would like to thank everyone that has supported him throughout starting this wonderful organization, including his sponsors: Redbull, Astro Gaming, Bungie Studios, Kiaeneto.com, and Allisbrawl.com. Thank you also the media outlets who have helped us spread the word like this article would, including Steve from the Get Pwned Show, mlive.org, Shane from the former Pwned Radio, FOX2 Detroit, Jonathan "FODDER" Reynolds, spokesperson and producer for the Gamers Outreach Foundation, and Matt “Kirb” Somma, a Frag Dominant writer, for writing this article.
If you would like to find out more information about this organization, please visit their website at http://www.gamersoutreach.org, or contact them in on the Gamesurge IRC Network, #GamersOutreach.
Insider eSports wishes good luck to the GamersOutreach with their Gamers For Giving event!