Gaming for Good
Students raise funds in support of Parkinson’s Foundation.
Michael Foote ’22, president of the Stonehill College Gaming Club, had trouble coming up with an answer when recently asked to name the video game character with whom he most identifies.
“It’s funny that I like to play action-adventure games,” he said. “Sometimes I look at the characters and I say to myself, ‘I’m not like that. I could never do what they do. I don’t have the physical or mental strength for any of that.’”
He may not run as fast as Sonic the Hedgehog or wield a magical sword like The Legend of Zelda’s Link, but the Stonehill senior is every bit a hero as those characters. The same can also be said for the other members of the Gaming Club. The student organization recently raised over $3,000 for the Parkinson’s Foundation during a day-long streaming event.
“This was such an ambitious project and it ended up being successful,” Foote said. “It feels great to end my senior year on such a high note with something like this.
Utilizing Twitch, a streaming platform popular among gamers, Foote and his peers treated their audience to colorful commentary while playing games like Mario Kart and Minecraft. Those who tuned into the 30-hour broadcast were given a link to a webpage allowing them to donate directly to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Besides experiencing the fulfilment that comes with helping others, viewers had plenty of incentive to contribute to this initiative. Patrons were given a raffle ticket for every $10 pledged. Prizes included a pair of Amazon gift cards donated by the Student Government Association, as well as product codes that can be used to activate games on different platforms.
The Gaming Club also agreed to participate in various challenges whenever they hit donation benchmarks. For example, a club member who does not like the horror genre agreed to face his fear by putting on a virtual reality headset to play a scary game live on air if a certain fundraising goal was reached.
Originally, this event was only supposed to take place over 18 hours. When the club hit its fundraising goal within the first two hours of the stream, they decided to extend it so they could raise as much money as possible. Foote notes that this proved quite challenging.
“We had to figure out pretty quickly how we were going to fill 30 hours of content,” he said. “It was difficult trying to keep our energy up all that time, but people ended up taking on different shifts so that others could take a break or go get some sleep.”
The Parkinson’s Foundation approached the Gaming Club about organizing this event in recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Last year, Foote and his friends produced an eight-hour livestream in support of the organization. They raised several hundred dollars.
“Our hope is to hold this event annually,” Foote said. “Some of our club members have loved ones living with Parkinson’s, so this cause is personal to us.”
The Gaming Club has also held fundraisers benefitting other causes. The group raised approximately $1,000 for breast cancer research during the 2018–2019 academic year. More recently, they raised $2,000 for Child’s Play, a charitable organization that donates toys and games to children’s hospitals around the world.
Given that Foote is set to graduate from Stonehill in a few weeks, the Gaming Club’s recent streaming event is one of the last major programs in which he will participate as a student.
“Every year, it’s so hard saying goodbye to seniors,” he said. “Now, I’m on the other side of that. I’ll always support the club from the outside, though. Being a part of this family has meant so much to me.”