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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Charity garners fundraising by gamers playing video games in a 24-hour span

Extra Life Logo

Megan Bennett played for 20 hours in Extra Life last year and raised nearly $250 for Boston’s Children’s Hospital; her team raised over $14,000. She plans on beating both personal records this year.

Gamers will take to their controllers for “Extra Life,” a 24-hour gaming marathon, to raise money for local children’s hospitals. Extra Life will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 and will end at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3.

People of all ages are invited to ask friends and family to sponsor them while they play games for 24 hours. Since 2010, Extra Life has been a national program through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, raising funds for 170 network hospitals throughout the US and Canada. The event raised more than $2 million last year.

Participants are encouraged to play video games for 24 hours on gaming platforms like PlayStation, XBOX, and PC. However, they are not limited to video games — they can play board games like “Monopoly,” card games like “Magic: the Gathering,” or outdoor games like basketball.

Not everyone can commit to 24 hours of gameplay, and that’s understandable; some people can’t afford to miss out on a day or two of work, or they have other obligations. The event is more about the spirit of gamers coming together as a community to help children in need.

The event is free to sign up and can be done online. As of Oct. 21, more than 16,300 participants are signed up for Extra Life, including some students at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Baxter Mattes, a sophomore at UMass Boston, recently signed up for the event. When asked why he wanted to participate, he said, “it sounds like an incredible idea, and if kids can benefit from me playing video games, then yeah, I’m in.” He plans on participating for the full 24 hours and will be playing “Skyrim,” “Borderlands 2,” “Planetside 2,” and “Team Fortress 2.”

Senior UMass Boston student Alex Kowalczyk participated last year and only made it to the 16-hour mark before he fell asleep. This year, he plans on completing the full 24 hours. Alex will be playing indie games “Dark Matter” and “Spacebase DF-9” on the PC.

Megan Hillier, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Coordinator for the Extra Life program with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, has been working on Extra Life since January 2012.

“We’re looking for you to do something fun, challenge yourself to do it for a longer amount of time, and raise life-saving funds for kids in need,” Hillier said.

Extra Life was started six years ago by Jeromy Adams, who met Victoria Enmon, a leukemia survivor, through a radio program in Houston, Tex. Though Victoria eventually lost her battle, Jeromy realized that gamers like himself wanted to give back — they just didn’t have a way to do it yet. From there, he created Extra Life.

“This truly unique fundraising event is not only great because it’s not your typical 5K, but because you get to choose where your fundraising goes,” Hillier said.

“It’s not just for video game players, it’s for everyone. I would much rather play a yard game, so I can do that. Everything is fair game.”

For more information, visit http://www.extra-life.org/