#WeAreStars Charity Campaign

Ordinarily when I write articles I am careful to keep myself using ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ to address you, the reader. The idea behind this is that the writing is representative of everyone at Gankstars and not just myself. But sometimes, pieces should be personal. So today I’m ditching that. I want to talk to you properly, as me, Gank Toad (hush you), because the topic is something that is close to my heart.

Gankstars recently launched our #WeAreStars campaign. We’ve partnered up with Gamers Outreach to raise money and awareness for their charity. But who are Gamers Outreach? Sure you could just click the link (and I highly encourage you to do so), but I want to talk to you about them as well.

Gamers Outreach are a charity in the USA that provides gaming equipment and volunteers to pediatric units in hospitals. To quote their landing page: ‘Join our quest to provide kids in hospitals with recreation and therapy through the power of video games!’. One of their most exciting creations are the GO Karts: portable, medical-grade video game kiosks that enable hospital staff to easily provide bedside recreation to children who are unable to leave their rooms in hospitals.’

Pretty cool right? Look at these bad boys:

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I mentioned earlier that this is something that is pretty close to my heart. Well, when I was eleven years old four of my teeth decided to recede back into my gums and not only did I need them removed, but they had decayed and become infected, making me very ill as a result. I was far too proud a child to admit how much it hurt and bled to my parents and it was only at my next dentist appointment that it was picked up and off I was sent. Eleven year old me was not super smart.

I only stayed for two nights. It was enough. Even after the surgery was complete I was still sick - the anaesthetic alone just made me more physically ill. And I begged to go home. My parents, the nurses, anyone who would listen. I cried and screeched, scared of spending another few hours in the building all by myself. I won that fight. I endured two hours of puking out the passenger window of my dad’s car so loudly that our neighbors commented.

Yeah, perhaps I might have thrown the ultimate childish tantrum to get what I wanted. But I also was eleven years old and those two nights in that children’s ward were lonely, terrifying, sad and painful. I cannot imagine having to stay there long term, under more serious circumstances. If it was so horrible for me with my bad teeth, how much worse was it for the kid in the bed next to me, who had had his legs crushed in a motorcycle accident and was probably never going to be able to use them again? What about the four year old whose mum made friends with my mum briefly, who had spent only one Christmas ever out of hospital, and whose condition was so bad that my mother wouldn’t even tell me what it was for fear of upsetting me?

But you know what was the most awful part? The dense, crushing silence and boredom. You dig out the same three picture books meant for toddlers over and over again. You run your Gameboy out of battery fairly easily and then there’s nowhere to charge it. You exchange boiled sweets with your neighbours. But there’s nothing to do, no one to do it with, and minutes turn into hours as you wait for the nurse to come get you so that a bunch of strange people can knock you out and cut you open.

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This is why Gamer’s Outreach is so, so, so important. Times have changed. How much easier would the stay have been if me and the older kids in the ward could have had an evening Smash tournament? Or if we could have played Minecraft and messed about and chased sheep and explored? Or even just run around in Fortnite laughing at ourselves because we’re bad but still having fun?

Gaming is an industry that can provide many different opportunities to many different people. But in the end, isn’t the point of a game to have fun? To escape into another world? Slay that dragon, run that theme park, save the galaxy, protect the innocent, experience a story like no other. Who could use that more than those who have to experience some of the roughest patches in life?

So, many of our streamers, staff, and pros will be participating over the next month hoping to snag some much needed donations to help Gamers Outreach. We’ve got some really cool giveaways lined up with our partners too!

‘But Gankstars’, I hear you cry, ‘I am but a poor esports fan in this current economic hellscape. I have no money to give! Is there something else I can do to help out?’ And my answer is, you bet your branded boots you can. Our team will be tracking the #WeAreStars hashtag on social media. One of the goals of this campaign is to encourage others to set up their own projects for a good cause. So if you don’t have that money to ping across (all my bills came today ugh) maybe consider what you can do to donate your time instead! There are plenty of amazing ways to raise awareness. Even just retweeting helps by spreading the word, even if it doesn’t seem like much.

Together, let’s make a difference.