A team of Toronto gamers hosted a 25-hour gaming marathon in support of SickKids Hospital this weekend. The Digital Kids Extra-Life Event began at 9:00 pm on Saturday and ended 25 hours later on Sunday evening. Extra-Life is a larger North-American charitable organization made up of eSports enthusiasts in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The annual Extra-Life game day event is in its fifth year. Last year, the event raised nearly $2 million worldwide.
Digital Kids organizer Gabriel Swanson — or GZSwanson, as he is known in the gaming community — is a SickKids alumnus. He spent a large part of his childhood at SickKids in treatment for haemophelia. In a reddit post made in the r/Toronto subreddit, Swanson describes the spirit of the event: “The hearts and minds of the gaming community have come together to raise funds for local children’s charities. The entirety of the gaming community, comprising of tens of thousands of gamers, bring together their various talents and skills spanning from consoles to tabletop games and everything in between to save lives and make a difference in their communities. Extra-Life gives gamers and spectators alike [a chance] to show that they have heart.”
The main event was a StarCraft 2 showmatch between Hendralisk and MaSa, two top professional eSports players in Toronto. Swanson provided commentary. There were also Xbox stations and pcs set up for tournaments and casual gaming. Microsoft provided door prizes, and refreshments were available to encourage mingling among the local gaming community.
In an interview with The Varsity, Ric H. Prager, a producer of the event, spoke to the passion shared by the gaming community as a true strength of the event. “The motivation behind Digital Kids is a reflection of the intense passion behind SickKids and the equally intense passion in the gaming community, specifically our experience with competitive gaming or eSports,” he says. “SickKids has saved the lives of many Toronto children, including members of the active gaming community we have here. It’s a way for us to give back, and a way to showcase the passion behind the competitive gaming community, and how it can be leveraged for a great cause.”
In the future, gaming may have a more direct connection with helping children in the process of healing, says Prager. “Ken Silva, our director, is an eSports veteran, working gaming events across North America and South Korea for the past few years. He’s been in talks with SickKids for a few months now, and really sees a space for video games within the hospital. Competition is a natural part of childhood, and these games can give a great positive outlet to some of the kids that need it the most.”
For more information on Extra-Life visit www.extra-life.org. You can donate to Extra-Life through their donation portal. Follow Team Digital Kids on twitter at @DigitalKids2.