Student-led fundraiser gives back through gameplay

By in News

While the University of Saskatchewan Games Club is no stranger to gaining extra lives within various digitally-simulated or imaginary worlds, club members have found a way to translate this seemingly arbitrary advantage into a real-world benefit for sick children.

The Games Club is made up of approximately 50 members and regularly meets on a monthly basis. Later in November, the club will be hosting the Extra Life event, a 24-hour gaming marathon that generates donations for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

According to Jay Olbort, vice-president of the games club and psychology student, the club strives to provide a safe and fun gaming environment for all gamerExtra Life - Jeremy Britzs on campus.

“It’s definitely a great networking opportunity, a great opportunity to meet new people and just kind of turn gaming into a more social activity,” Olbort said.

While the club’s monthly meetups are open to the public, members must be current students at the U of S. A membership card, which costs only $10, provides a discount to each of the club sponsors including various comic book and gaming stores around the city such as Collectors Lane, Amazing Stories, Dragon’s Den, Bell Island Pizza and King Me Boardgamery.

Olbort explains that the club provides an environment for like-minded students to get together and play a variety of games spanning from trading-card and board games to computer and console video games.

Alongside these attributes, on Nov. 21, the Games Club will also be hosting the Extra Life event. Starting at 6 a.m., the gaming marathon will begin at TCU Place and features a plethora of games for attendees to participate in, as well as some surprise additions at the strike of midnight.

While Olbort admits that the event is enjoyed by many, it is not all about fun and games and actually stems from quite unfortunate circumstances.

“Extra Life was originally started for a little girl seven years ago and it has since enveloped all of North America. The proceeds go to various children’s hospital foundations across North America,” Olbort said.

The girl, Victoria Enmon, was diagnosed with cancer at age 11. Her battle lasted several years but eventually ended in tragedy. The Extra Life initiative has carried on after her death in memory of her struggle and now aims to support other children going through similar situations.

Olbort reiterates that although Extra Life events occur all across North America, anyone can participate, noting that participation is possible even from the comfort of home by way of in-house gameplay and online donations.

For the 2015 fundraiser, Extra Life has already raised over $6.5 million and counting and the U of S Games Club hopes to contribute $6,000 to the running total.

As stated on their Facebook page, the U of S Games Club encourages attendees to bring cash for game buy-ins and supplementary donations. Attendees are also offered food and drink, and there are raffles and silent auctions available to help further support the cause.

Olbort insists that the event is not only a great deal of fun for students interested in gaming but it can also be a rewarding experience above and beyond the gameplay itself.

“It’s a great event for students to give back to the community through donations and it just lines up so well with what our club is all about, just kind of all things gaming.”

Jack Thompson

Graphic: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor