Of all the stereotypes facing video game enthusiasts on a regular basis, philanthropy is pretty far down the list. However, over the last eight years, Extra Life has served as a charitable vehicle for gamers to raise funds to benefit about 170 children’s hospitals spread throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the past two years, a Milwaukee “guild” of Extra Life has received about $200,000 raised to benefit Children’s Miracle Hospital Network through button-mashing, board gaming, laser tag battles, and a variety of other engaging and inventive game-based fundraisers.
Between Saturday and Sunday night, a brave and borderline crazy group of gamers will gather at Boone & Crockett to attempt 24 uninterrupted hours of gaming. At the end of the literal day of grueling gameplay, the event will likely push Milwaukee’s Extra Life chapter over the $100,000 fundraising threshold for 2015 while hopefully resetting some of the negative perceptions shrouding gamers in the process.
The marathon was organized by Boone & Crockett owner John Revord, a lifelong gamer and unabashed World Of Warcraft and Magic: The Gathering player.
“I absolutely adore gaming. I love the culture, and I think there’s a lot more positive in gaming culture than negative,” Revord says. “Honestly, I thought it was hilarious I could find an excuse to game for 24 hours straight for a cause.”
Beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday and running continuously through 8 p.m. on Sunday, Revord and five others will base themselves in front of six monitors and three computer terminals wedged in a corner of the Bay View cocktail bar and will play systems from all generations. In the rear patio of the bar, customers can donate money to obtain gaming minutes. The Boone team will solicit donations by playing throughout the night and through executing a series of dares or stunts proposed to them either on site or on the Twitchcast that will stream the event.
“It’ll be really interesting to see people’s reactions live throughout the course of a busy Saturday night in here while we’re all doing our thing on stage,” Revord says.
The owner will be joined by Boone & Crockett bartender Rob Maass, another lifelong video game player. Maass will be working at the bar until close then will take a controller for the remainder of the time. Though the bar has done its fair share of charitable things in the past, this is Boone & Crockett’s first gaming-based benefit. Maass hopes this marathon will be the first of many Extra Life events at the bar.
“It’s for a charity, so you can’t hope to not do more things like this,” Maass says. “We’re going to play video games and raise money for sick kids. Where is the negative in doing things like that more often?”
Greg Reynolds, President of Extra Life’s Milwaukee guild, was pleasantly surprised the benefit was organized and was already being promoted before he’d even learned it was happening.
“It’s something we’re seeing more in Milwaukee and something that’s got me super excited,” Reynolds says. “We’re trying to find other neat ways to help promote the cause.”
Not only do events like Boone & Crockett’s 24-hour marathon and a recent Bounce Milwaukee laser tag contest between Sprecher and Lakefront breweries raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Reynolds says they’re also invaluable in helping to build a common goal and work against the assumptions people make about gaming culture.
“It’s about meeting this place where we can create a better community,” Reynolds says. “People in the gaming community can complain and moan about how we’re represented or we can go out there and make what we represent very clear by going out there and making a positive difference—showing people as opposed to just telling people.”
Revord and his teammates will show Boone & Crockett customers the generous side of gaming this weekend, and will hopefully have at least some fun over the course of the taxing campaign.
“It’s fun, but charity is definitely the focus to it,” Revord says. “I think that will keep us going for the whole 24 hours.”
Extra Life’s “24-Uninterrupted Hours Of Gaming” event will take place at Boone & Crockett between 8 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. You can donate to Boone’s team on-site (during regular hours of operation only) or online.