Video Gamers Gather at Eastern Michigan University to Help Charities

Emily Olsheffski wasn’t a video gamer when she and her boyfriend started dating two years ago.

Now, she’s part of a video game club at Purdue University, where she’s a senior, and competes with friends regularly.

Today, Olsheffski, 21, and her boyfriend Matthew Shanks, 22, also a Purdue student, were among the approximately 600 gamers at Eastern Michigan University participating in Gamers for Giving, a charity tournament that raised money to buy video game kiosks for childrens hospitals and care packages for troops overseas.

The tournament and foundation that supports it were the brainchild of Zach Wigal, a 24-year-old EMU marketing senior from Saline.

“We’re very passionate about video games so anything that we can do to kind of take that passion and use it for good is awesome. It feels really special and does a lot of good for other people,” Wigal said.

This is the group’s sixth event since 2008, featuring a bracket-style double elimination tournament today and Sunday. Teams compete in popular games like Halo, Call of Duty and League of Legends and the event has a goal of raising $20,000 for charity, in part through donations.

Today gamers carrying their computer hardware poured into the student ballroom, and despite an Internet connection glitch that caused a temporary delay, geared up to compete and have fun.

For Olsheffski, gaming offers a connection with her boyfriend and others.

“It’s like a nice little bonding thing,” she said of the effect on her relationship, noting that Shanks “actually got me into” gaming.

The pair and the rest of their team will be competing Sunday, during the second day of the competition in EMU’s student center ballroom. They will be playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a first-person shooter game that pits teams of terrorists against counter-terrorists.

For Shanks, video gaming culture and competitions are often unfairly maligned.

“There’s a usually a very bad stigma with gaming events that doesn’t really represent the community,” he said, explaining that the purpose is to make connections.

“It’s become like a form of social networking for me,” Olsheffski said. “It’s cool because I get to meet people I never ever would.”


About the Author

Ivan Castilho is a citizen of the world; CEO at Mindfield Digital and Executive Director at AppleMagazine, and Techlife News. Ivan's been an avid Apple user and consumer since 2008, with a major in Marketing and extensive experience in strategic management and consulting for tech companies. Hobbies include photography, design, and music.