Gamers fundraise for local hospital

Gamers fundraise for local hospital

By Liam Hofmeister, inside editor

It was his 15th hour of near-uninterrupted gameplay and Johnny Nyugen, a video game streamer from Leominster, needed to move. He left his laptop 11:30 p.m.and walked with an ache of inactivity coursing through his body.

“I just need to get the blood flowing and the bones moving again,” Nyugen said. “Only nine more hours.”

After a short break, Nyugen returned to his computer – back in line with the 20 other remaining gamers – mounted his headphones and became absorbed in “League of Legends,” a strategy-based cooperative fantasy game.

He called out tactics to his teammates in the room, and as the group of gamers worked toward victory, the money donated increased closer to their goal of $1,000.

Nearly 70 video gamers contributed to the 24-hour Extra Life Gaming Marathon on Saturday at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) to raise $6,500. Players needed their mental fortitude to survive the 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift of continuous video gaming. Participants recorded their gameplay live on Twitch, an online streaming site, and viewers donated money in support of CIC’s charity of choice – Boston Children’s Hospital.

“I’m fading, man, but I’ve got to keep going,” TC Jiang, a streamer from Somerville in his 14th hour of gaming, said. “I’ve raised $130 myself, so far. Thank God we still have Red Bull.”

CIC kept the fundraisers geared for success: a kitchen equipped with two refrigerators, an oven and a stove top were available to participants. A kegged soda system allowed gamers to mix their own sugary drinks to keep their energy high.

“CIC organized everything, computer parts included,” Nyugen said. “If you need it, it’s here.”

By midnight, only about 20 endured the day and played on, sitting red-eyed and staring at their display monitors with energy drinks ready to the side.

The most popular games of the day included “League of Legends,” first-person-shooter “Call of Duty” and car-racing-soccer-fusion “Rocket League,” according to Mark Moreau, director of operations at CIC.

Moreau said the popularity of some of these games lies in their simplicity. A player does not need to be a master to have fun, which is what he believes made the fundraiser successful.

“We don’t care about being good streamers,” Moreau said. “Long-term benefits don’t matter for us. All that matters is how much money we can raise for charity tonight.”

Moreau said CMN approached the innovation center to hold the stream.

“We were looking for a charity event to do, and along came Extra Life,” Moreau said. “They got us in contact with Microsoft, which got us 10 extra Xboxes. I was really impressed.”

All of the revenue from CIC’s Extra Life fundraiser will go toward Boston Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Fund, an allocated endowment for the areas most in need at the medical center.

The fund could provide anything from patient care to research initiatives to community health works.

Even though the mission of Extra Life was to attract donations, anyone was welcome to stop by the CIC and enjoy the games. Children were found earlier in the day playing “Minecraft,” a Lego-like world builder. At midnight, a group of college students played a round of “Super Smash Bros.”, and were welcomed by the fundraisers, even though the students were not contributing to the cause.

The American Video Game League, an organization which fosters competitive e-sport events, provided the streaming equipment and a force of additional gamers.

“We decided to collaborate because of the bigger space CIC could offer,” Victor Suski, League founder, said. “We’ll probably do this annually.”

Photo by Scotty Schenck

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