16th October 209 - Journey with me, if you will, as we look at a global gaming event for this coming weekend. From 8am 17th October 2009, 100s of gamers around the world are coming to gather for one united event. The meeting point is undefined, and the goal, very simple. Sit down for 24 hours and play video games.
Extra Life is an initiative started through www.sarcasticgamer.com and to some, may sound like a dream come true. But Extra life is a charitable event and the cause; more noble. Entering into Extra Life requires being sponsored to raise money for pediatric cancer by playing games for a whole day straight.
To be fair, 24 hours is a long time, most marathons, triathlons or pie-eating contests are a lot shorter, but the endurance more grueling. Participants are encouraged to gather friends or hire out halls to keep each other awake. What we have is a united front of gamers, with one of the greatest hobbies in the world, using it to strike a blow for a very real problem and raise a bunch of money in the process. The first Extra Life event, in 2008 raised over $100,000 with players from every continent in the world, sans Antarctica.
But the first question I want to pose is: If you had 24hrs to play any and all games you could, what would you do? This weekend that is the challenge I face. Realistically, there are probably more than a few players out there who have already, perhaps without realizing it played a game for at least 24hrs. Multiplayer games are probably the most distracting while role playing games could easily last the longest. As tempting as it would be to go out and buy a new game or even hire one, It seems redundant in the face of raising money for children's cancer research. The morality of our self indulgent addiction is suddenly put to question.
Maybe a more important question is, for what or for whom would you give up a whole day to play video games for? Most of us are all too ready to shell out 100s of dollars for our favorite past-time, without ever even considering it could be used for a better cause. What if we flip this on its head and say, would you give up video games or the use of your console for 24hrs, to raise money for sick kids, you have never even met. Extra Life aims to answer those questions.
See as simple as it is, it is entirely possible that for 10s if not 100s of gamers, this weekend, video games are going to mean something more, that by the time I peel myself off the couch Sunday morning, I may never look at games the same way again. Weather it's a life altering MMO or simply partying up on XBOX Live to spam `nades at a passing Warthog, you can't help feeling good that games are giving back. They give so much already and ask for nothing in return so now, for two days we can turn the other cheek and declare; ' video games save lives '.
With casual gaming bleeding into every aspect of our lives, claiming to help you lose weight and learn to cook, why shouldn't games help to cure cancer. With so many people invested in virtual lives escaping the harsh realities of our western culture; does it hurt, that for once we embrace something real with real implications for saving lives. The opportunities for video games to change the world are far reaching or as simple as recycling. Already phones in Australia are recycled, why not the mountain of disks as well. From the same people to Bring you Extra Life, another initiative 'pass it on' was started last year. Play a game, pass it on, mail it to one person and share the love. See how far one game can really go.
This year NBC America covered the story of Extra Life, and only last week feigned interest that video games were something other than suicide simulators. Play games. Heal Kids. Extra Life.
Article Written By Ian Crane