11 Oct 2009

Raising funds for the Texas Children’s Hospital

One of my upcoming print columns in Library Journal is going to be about “gamers with heart.” In the original draft (due out November 15th), I talked all about Child’s Play, a charity I have come to care passionately about. However, I expanded the column with other ways gamers showed that we are truly good people who care about more than killing pixels in virtual worlds. Along the way, I discovered Extra Life, a 24 hour gaming marathon to fund pediatric cancer research and treatment at the Texas Children’s Hospital.

And I decided to hop into the game.

What and Why
photo2140 Gamers have heart and, through charities like Child’s Play and Extra Life, we put a lie to those who think we don’t. We suffer stereotyping as mouse potatoes, or basement-dwelling anti-social killers-in-training or dicing with the devil because we played tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or, in my case, Tunnels & Trolls. Well, that’s bullshit. As Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade said, “I know for a fact that gamers are good people. I have had the opportunity on multiple occasions to meet hundreds of you at conventions all over the country. We are just regular people who happen to love video games.”

I’ve met thousands of you (as I’m sure he has) and I agree. I’d also add — not just video games but all games.

I don’t have children. I don’t have close friends who have children fighting cancer. My charity efforts usually extend to places like The Nature Conservancy. But this matters. We won’t get into my opinions about health care in general (and not just in the US) although one of these days I’ll tell you about my trip to Thailand to get my gallbladder removed because I was uninsured by my then-employer. My only personal connection to cancer — ever, I hope — is that my father died of lung cancer after decades of smoking.

Children and Cancer: two things that don’t belong together
As the Extra Life website says: Cancer kills a classroom full of kids every day worldwide. It takes kids from all walks of life, and respects no borders. Cancer doesn’t care about ethnicity or religion. It doesn’t care if a child is from privilege or poverty.

I have raised funds for children’s hospitals before. During Magic’s heyday, I attended a gaming convention in Albuquerque where Doug Shuler and I each auctioned off the right to be painted into a Magic card, with the money going to the UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital. That card is the Freyalise Supplicant. Doug is co-credited not for painting any part of it, but because he was the photographer who caught the perfect picture of the model. (I’d link it but card sites change often. Google the card name and you’ll find it.) Each of us raised about $1500 for the hospital doing this.

World of Warcraft
world-of-warcraft-logoSMFor those of you who don’t know, I play WoW. I run a small guild of friends-in-real life but I also play occasionally on the Aerie Peak server with the “Libraries and Librarians” guild (Alliance): a WoW library guild for library staff and their loved ones. It’s a pretty cool gang and they are going to play host to me and maybe some others for the October 17th Extra Life event.

So here comes the pitch:
Do you work in a library, or are you closely associated with someone who does (loved one, family, s.o.)? Are you interested in joining our team of players, and do you think you can raise pledges among just four of your friends in support of the charity? Sign up on the team page, then!

If you can’t play with me there (or even if you can), will you pledge your dollars? You could pledge $1 for each hour I play — it can’t be more than 24 hours since that’s all the time the marathon runs and in truth, there’s no way I can stay awake 24 hours even playing WoW! Pledge me $2/hr, or $5 if you’re feeling generous! Because I got into this late, I have a modest goal to raise just $300; I’d like to hope it will be more.

I may be running my Death Knight Recalled which, after all, is appropriate … battling back from death’s door, which is what the children of the hospital must do every day but in real life. I may launch a level 1 paladin named Zenodotus (the first librarian of the Library of Alexandria) in order to work in a group with others on the team starting new toons. [Kudos and thanks to MissP for making me aware of the name!] This is the link to my own page on the Extra Life website.

Added incentive
I’ll give you a bit of extra motivation: from every individual who makes me a pledge of at least $1/hr played, I’ll randomly chose one of you (if you’re not giving anonymously) to receive one of my signed limited edition prints and five signed artist-proof whiteback Magic cards as a thank you for stepping up to the plate. I know times are hard; your dollars will go for a good cause.

ETA (10/14): I’m planning to include as many of the child-specific quests as I can: notably little Pamela Redpath (for the Battle of Darrowshire), will help Alicia in SW to deliver her poem in Shattrath, and on Hordeside, go feed Ahab Wheathoof’s dog Kyle. I remember there’s a quest in Grizzly Hills as well but I doubt my DK can get there unless she levels faster in 24hr than I expect. Perhaps a higher-level guildie can escort me around…

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