Gamers Outreach Foundation
Gamers Outreach Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to use interactive entertainment in ways that improve the lives of others. The organization's efforts bring together video game enthusiasts of the world to promote concern for others and engage in philanthropic activity.
In March 2007, seventeen-year-old Michigan native Zach Wigal had spent three months planning and organizing a Halo 2 tournament for his fellow peers and classmates at Saline High School. The teenager, along with a group of friends, had received permission from administrators to host a video game tournament in his high school's cafeteria. Nearly three hundred individuals had registered to take part in one of the area's first-ever competitive gaming tournaments.
Three days before the tournament was scheduled to take place, a local police officer (who belonged to a media censorship organization called the Parents Television Council) heard news of the teenager's tournament, and adamantly protested the event be allowed to take place within the high school. According to a voicemail left for the school district's superintendent, it was the opinion of the public safety officer that Halo 2 was "corrupting the minds of America's youth" and that the gaming tournament was a hazard to the public safety of the community. Comparing the game to other M rated titles such as Grand Theft Auto and 25 to Life, the officer strongly suggested the event not take place on school property. The high school's superintendent, convinced by the officer's voicemail, quickly canceled the permit that had been given to Zach and his friends months earlier; citing public safety concerns as reason for cancellation.
Still determined to host a Halo tournament, Zach and his friends began putting together a new event with the hopes of raising money for charity to instead illustrate the positive impact people can make when they come together to play video games. The high school students set out to seek redemption, refuting the negative stereotypes and misconceptions they had experienced first hand that are often associated with video games.
Over the next few months, Gamers for Giving was born, an event that aimed to benefit a local chapter of the Autism Society of America. In the process of planning this new event, Gamers Outreach Foundation was created. Though the organization was originally established to help encourage and facilitate donations for the event, the foundation quickly began taking on a life of its own, maturing eventually into an organization with a clear vision and a simple goal – help people through video games.
Gamers for Giving went on to be a great success. Teaming with a local LAN party, the 2008 event featured a Halo 3 tournament alongside an MPCon BYOC LAN. Over 500 participants and spectators attended, generating $4,000.00 for the Autism Society of America.
In 2009, Gamers for Giving became the annual fundraising event of Gamers Outreach Foundation, and the organization itself experienced a re-launch, merging with two other well-established gaming charities: Fun For Our Troops and Gaming4Others. The organization currently works to develop and sustain initiatives that actually use video games in ways that help others.
The mission statement of the Gamers Outreach Foundation is as follows:
- Gamers Outreach Foundation is a video-game industry charity organization that works to use interactive entertainment in ways that improve the lives of others. Simply put, we use video games to help people out!
The foundation's mission is embodied through three programs which use interactive entertainment to help others. They include...
Project GO Kart
The organization funds the construction of portable gaming kiosks called GO-Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts). GO-Karts are used to provide entertainment to patients in hospitals who have a limited amount of access to activities outside of their rooms. Hospital staff members are able to easily transport video games and other sources of entertainment to patients who may be immobile for certain periods of time.
Fun For Our Troops
Gamers Outreach supplies video game care-packages to U.S. soldiers serving overseas. The effort helps to provide sources of relief and relaxation by providing high-tech and interactive entertainment to deployed troops.
Gaming4Others coordinates online video game tournaments and community game nights to help raise funds for others in need. Through Gaming4Others, Gamers Outreach hosts online tournaments and community game nights for a variety of causes and charity organizations. Gamers from across the country donate funds to participate in online tournaments. Proceeds from the tournaments are then donated to pre-designated causes or organizations.
Gamers for Giving
Each year, the foundation hosts a non-profit competitive gaming event called Gamers for Giving. The event typically features video game tournaments, special industry guests, and a variety of gaming activities and competitions for event participants. Profits from the event are used to support Gamers Outreach initiatives. Gamers for Giving 2015 was one of the LAN events of the Halo Championship Series Season 1.