YPSILANTI (WWJ) — More than 600 video gamers from around the country will descend on Eastern Michigan University this weekend for the Midwest’s premier video game competition.

The Gamers for Giving competition was founded a few years ago by EMU student Zach Wigal, a 23-year-old senior in marketing at EMU who also consults with the gaming industry around the country.

The goal of the event is to raise $20,000 to build portable video game kiosks for use in children’s hospitals.

The 24-hour nonstop competition begins Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs through Sunday morning in the ballroom of EMU’s Student Center, 900 Oakwood. It will also be webcast around the globe at http://www.Twitch.tv/GamersOutreach by headline sponsor Twitch, the video platform and community for gamers.

Gamers for Giving features tournaments with cash prizes for the hardcore enthusiast as well as casual activities for those who enjoy the light-spirited side of gaming, Wigal said. Several professional competitive gamers will also be on hand to assist with the weekend’s activities.

Gamers can participate in a number of tournaments including Call of Duty: Ghosts; Halo 4; Killer Instinct; Starcraft II; League of Legends, and a BYOC (bring your own computer) LAN party.

The event is open to the public by registering at GamersForGiving.org. It is free for spectators.

“The funds will be used to help support the construction of portable video game kiosks, called Gamers Outreach Karts or GO Karts, for use in children’s hospitals,” Wigal said.

GO Karts contain a monitor, an Xbox console and Astro Gaming headphones, and are crafted for use in medical environments where children have limited mobility or access to activities away from their bedside. It takes six to eight weeks to make one Kart at a cost of approximately $3,800.

“Many donations may end up in the hospital’s playrooms, but there are a lot of children who can’t leave their room,” Wigal said. “The Karts are portable, which allows children to do what they love and promotes socialization as they play together with their parents or roommates.”

Video game care packages to the military contain games and consoles, with recipients based on soldier nominations. The gamers’ foundation has already sent more than 300 care packages, totaling $140,000 worth of video games, to troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and South Korea.

Wigal says, “The children and soldiers who receive our donations really benefit from a virtual escape, and I’m always impressed by the generosity and support of the gaming community and video game industry.”

Gamers Outreach Foundation, a non-profit agency, hasn’t had a major grant yet, so the gamers have had to fund the foundation themselves, Wigal says. The first prototype GO Kart was built in 2010 and the first one was delivered that same year. The group donated three Karts in 2013 and that number is expected to increase to eight or more GO Karts after this year’s event.


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