This article is a part of the Notes from Leadership series, a collection of articles from leaders of the OU Esports Club releasing throughout the fall 2019 semester.
We’ve all heard the stereotypes. Gamers are lazy shut-ins with poor social skills. They don’t contribute to their communities and spend all their time focused on their games with no other hobbies or interests. Games themselves are villainized as the cause of violence. Recently, a hopeful trend has started, and these stereotypes and accusations have decreased as gamers are starting to be viewed as the fully functioning adults that most of us are. However, I’d like to take this further and argue that videogames, especially the streaming of videogames, have become a large force for good.
The streaming of games has also been met with its own unique criticisms. Why would you watch someone else play a game that you can buy yourself? What this question ignores is the very social nature of streaming. Streamers interact with their viewers in a way that is completely unmatched by other forms of traditional media. They provide a community in which people can talk about their favorite games and real life in equal measures. From my own experience, I have met people and talked about a variety of topics including which Overwatch character is our favorite, to school advice, and to a debate about which dialect of Spanish was the easiest to learn: all in a Twitch chat channel. Streams are a new social space that go beyond just gaming.
Streams have also expanded beyond just their immediate impact on individuals. Charity streams are on the rise with more and more gamers being concerned with making a difference. GuardianCon, a gaming convention, ran a collaborative charity stream prior to their convention that raised $2.7 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Popular streaming personalities such as Ninja and Dr. Lupo raised well over $300,000 each. But these efforts are not confined to popular streaming personalities with large audiences. During my research for this article, I discovered numerous guides and outlets for individual gamers to find a way to contribute to various charitable causes. Our organization itself has participated in Extra Life, a collaborative charity stream raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, in the past and raised almost $3000. More and more gamers are becoming concerned with how they can use gaming to help others.
Gaming has come out of the basement. Gamers are acting more openly and with a greater purpose than ever before. Gaming should not only be viewed as the completely normal and acceptable hobby that it is but also as the force for good it has become.
Update: After the finalization of this article, an incredible event occurred. During a three day stream, a group of about 50 French streamers cooperating through an organization called ZEvent managed to raise over 3.5 million Euro for the Institut Pasteur, a nonprofit hospital that studies disease and vaccines. ZEvent smashed their record from last year when they raised around 1 million Euros, but that’s not the only record they beat. According to the event organizers, this is the largest amount of money raised by a Twitch stream yet. This a very clear demonstration of the rising prominence of gaming charity.
— KARA BRIGHTWELL
Community Outreach Coordinator
[header image] credit to Extra Life