OP Live Teamed with Extra Life to Help Gamers “Play Games, Save Lives”

October 23, 2018

When the first OP Live Dallas esports event was held at the Irving Convention Center, it was designed to benefit the entire community of North Texas. Gaming fans benefited because they were able to watch the largest collegiate Overwatch tournament in North Texas and a day-long Fortnite “Bounty Royale Brawl” the following day. Students benefited because they had the opportunity to learn about the full breadth of options available in the esports industry. Parents benefited because they could attend informative workshops on the educational and career possibilities in esports. And the community at large benefited – specifically patients at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals – because OP Live partnered with the charitable organization Extra Life.

“There were door prizes where, for a donation to the hospital, you could win X, Y, Z, and we were able to take donations at the table, and then all co-branded t-shirt and apparel sales benefited us. Also, we were able to register well over 40 players to play for Extra Life this year for either Children’s Health or other hospitals in the US and Canada,” said Aracely Munoz, Manager for Corporate Engagement at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Extra Life was founded in 2008 by Jeromy Adams. While working as a radio DJ, Jeromy met an 11-year-old girl named Victoria Enmon who was battling leukemia. Over the next few years, Victoria would experience relapses and several complications, yet she remained a vivacious girl who would often help other children in the hospital maintain their spirits. Victoria passed away at the age of 15, and Jeromy wanted to do something in her memory so Victoria could continue to help children. His original idea was a 24-hour video game marathon to raise money for Children’s Health (the hospital that treated Victoria, which is a member of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals), but it has grown significantly over the past 10 years. Today, thousands of gamers participate in Extra Life to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of their choice.

“For those who are in the fundraising world, this is a very nontraditional way of fundraising, but it is also a very nontraditional way of activating a community. There are very few charities out there that are geared toward individuals who have a passion for video gaming or tabletop gaming,” said Munoz.

“That idea of bridging and activating this gamer community – which is very involved and wants to give back while being social and activating other gamers – was incredibly effective. I have  many discussions with people here at the hospital, and at first, I get a lot of confused looks. But once I’m able to explain the why and how easy it is to give somebody – somebody who is already passionate about gaming – the opportunity to do something in addition to what they’re passionate about by giving back, a lot of people jump at that.

“Sometimes parents will get concerned when they hear ‘24 hours of gaming,’ especially parents with children in middle school and high school. What I tell them is, ‘Everything in moderation.’ While some gamers do spend one weekend gaming for 24 hours, your child doesn’t have to.  This is something they can do every weekend throughout the year, that’s just two hours every month dedicated to Extra Life. You can also make it a family event and have a family gaming night that counts toward Extra Life.”

Anyone who is interested in donating or participating in Extra Life can head to the website (extra-life.org) and click either “sign up” or “donate.” Participants can choose to sign up individually or as a team, and the who process takes only a few minutes.

“I always recommend that folks sign up as an individual participant first because they can always join a team later without any issues. The typical fundraising goal through Extra Life is usually a minimum of $100. However, I get a lot of elementary school students who raise $5, and we’re just so excited that they were able to fundraise for any amount because the whole point is awareness and letting people of all ages know that they can give back.

“The Extra Life website will auto-populate your local Children’s Network hospital based on your zip code. However, you can change that if you want to play for an out-of-state hospital. Just type in that state and all of the hospitals for the state or particular zip code will populate.

“Next it will send you a unique URL, and you can customize your giving page. This makes it super easy to take donations without having to deal with any money or credit card information at all. All a participant has to do is copy and paste his or her unique URL to friends and family – one click and they can easily donate to the page. 100 percent of those donations are tax deductible.”

The idea of including Extra Life as the charitable element of OP Live occurred because the tournament was a collaboration between eGency Global and the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Guildhall, the top-ranked graduate school for video game design in the world.

“Some SMU Guildhall graduate students actually found out about Extra Life about four years ago. They decided that they wanted to get the Guildhall involved and see if they could play for 24 hours. They have participated every year since. They usually do a Saturday and a Sunday combination, 12 hours each day. They stream as they play and the whole time they’re shouting out and showing their support for Children’s Health. And this is almost 100 percent student driven and activated with, of course, oversight from the graduate school department. So, this relationship brought us to OP Live,” said Munoz.

“I’ve been able to go to several cons with my time here at the hospital and going to OP Live was night and day. It was very family-friendly, and there was a large focus on educational. Not all cons are that way. I loved the parent TED-like talks (Powered Talks) and the teaching breakouts presented by the SMU Guildhall.

“We had 30 volunteers from the hospital who went out to help OP Live be successful in its first year. We have been able to collaborate with SMU Guildhall so well over the past few years, and we wanted to thank them for their support in choosing Children’s Health as their charity of choice. Everyone was blown away – our leadership from the hospital was blown away. I would say that none of our leadership had ever been to a video gaming conference before. They were completely surprised and, at the same time, very proud to know that we were working alongside organizations, like SMU Guildhall, eGency Global, and The Trade Group, that are actually at the forefront in thinking differently and doing things differently. I don’t know of any other video gaming expo that is affiliated with a university. I know our folks were very proud to see the creativity and the educational aspects that went into OP Live. And I think, for a lot of the families that we invited to the event, it was a great way to connect to their son or daughter.”

If you would like to donate to or participate in Extra Live, please click here. And for those who would like to learn more about OP Live or are interested in setting up and running an esports tournament, give eGency Global a call at 972-323-6354.