Every year, the Digital Worlds Bachelor of Digital Arts and Sciences Society (BADASS) hosts a 24-hour game-a-thon get-together called Extra Life that raises money for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. This year, the group partnered with Charity Nerds, an organization that gives games to children in need, and was able to raise over $2,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.
From 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, until 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, the Digital Worlds facilities were full of pajama-clad students playing games like Overwatch, Undertail and Nidhogg. A live stream was available for viewers to tune in to and to encourage them to donate. The students created incentives for the various gaming tournaments. During the Overwatch stream, the group met its $300 goal, so student Jimmy Brannock pied Professor Kyle Bohunickyin the face.
As the students played, the money trickled in, and Rachel Brown said it was really fun using gaming knowledge in support of a great cause.
“It’s putting our love of gaming to good use,” she said. “It just feels very rewarding.”
BADASS officers are currently working on scheduling a visit to Shands Children’s Hospital so that the gamers can visit the children they helped.
“It was definitely worth the lack of sleep,” Brown said. “I’m looking forward to next year. I hope I’m looking forward to more tournaments and seeing more people attend.”
One of the novelties of this event was Digital Worlds’ partnership with the group Charity Nerds, which started when Heath Locklear, the creator, used his own hospital stay as inspiration to help hundreds of other kids.
"The Extra Life event was amazing,” Locklear said. “Six of my high school friends and I played Rainbow Six Siege to raise money. The Digital Worlds PICT was the absolute best place to stream. We raised $450 during our portion.”
He and his friends enjoyed both the gaming and the difference they know it made.
“It was fun to play with a live audience watching, and we are happy to have helped the Children's Miracle Network,” he said.
The event was Dennis Yelito’s first as a part of Digital Worlds. He is serving as a historian for BADASS and as a tech assistant at the event, along with Brown, he was responsible for setting up the stream, going over the schedule and making everything as high-quality as possible.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” Yelito said.
While his position didn’t allow him to play as many games as the participants, he said he enjoyed commentating a Rainbow Six Siege tournament during the event. But even more fun than that was knowing where the money they raised was going.
“I can’t imagine being super young and going through something that stressful,” Yelito said. “I think it was awesome, and we should have it every year, because it was such a fun event all around.”