Streaming as a medium has been around for a while. People who game typically enjoy watching other people game, either to see how they overcome obstacles or just to have something on in the background while they are working. There is something soothing in hearing the music from a favorite video game and watching a streamer beat a particularly difficult boss. Platforms like Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube allow gamers to live stream so that people can watch and comment in real time, making it a truly immersive experience for all involved. But, in recent years, streamers have joined up for another purpose: to give back to the community. For streamers that have thousands of viewers tuning in to their channel, this has the power to generate a lot of money - and a lot of help.
While different streamers may have a preferred organization to donate to, many have banded together to donate to St. Jude’s Children Hospital. St. Jude has an Event called St. Jude PLAY LIVE where people can set a goal and work towards it. The mission statement says “[w]hether it's gaming, sewing, crafting, music or tabletop games, you can put your skills on display while raising funds and awareness for our lifesaving mission: Finding cures. Saving children.” Anybody can sign up, and at any time. However, for some steamers the month of May is where it is at. During May streamers compete to see who can raise the most money, and they are awarded prizes depending on the amount raised. The prizes themselves range from water bottles to apparel to gaming staples, many with art from a patient of St. Jude.
Through this fundraising program, more than $35 million has been raised. And that isn’t all. In 2020 many people took to streaming when they couldn’t leave their houses. During this time, streamers on Twitch raised over $83 million for various charities and organizations, leading some to refer to these gamers as joystick philanthropists.
At the St. Jude PLAY LIVE Summit, streamers gather in Memphis to learn about what it is they are raising money for – the kids of St. Jude. The Summit is also a place for people to strategize different ways to fundraise. It’s a chance to meet the kids and to play games with them. The streamers inspire, and are inspired by, the patients.
In 2020 the goal was to raise $2 million; but they ended up raising $3.385 million. This year, streamers raised a “record-breaking” $4,041,112.90 for St. Jude. Streamer couple LobosJr and Bloodyfaster (Mike and Eleni) have been participating in this charity for years now. In 2020 they did an interview talking about their experiences with gaming for St. Jude. Last year Mike “set a single-broadcaster record by raising more than $254,000 for the month.”
Eleni experienced her first St. Jude PLAY LIVE Summit days before her 30th birthday. This experience changed her life. Eleni says: “I dedicated my birthday to those kids and did my first 24-hour stream fundraising for St. Jude. I am not exaggerating when I say that visiting St. Jude back then completely changed my life and gave me a clear purpose.”
It is a really special thing to be able to take something that you love and bond with others over it. It creates a feeling of camaraderie and belonging. But, to take what you love and raise money for something that can impact people’s lives for the better is even more special. It allows you to share a common goal, a common hope, with others. It can be achieved if people are willing to work together.