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Game Marathon to Raise Money for Children's Health

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The Game Development Club at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will participate in a 48-hour gaming marathon beginning at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. Club members will binge on horror-themed console, card and tabletop games, all the while raising money for charity: To play, they have to collect donations for the Children’s Miracle Network.

The marathon is part of Extra Life 2013, an international one-day gaming campaign that has raised more than $4 million for children’s hospitals. Extra Life started in Texas, where a small group of gamers sent games and gifts to Victoria Enmon, a 15-year-old who was being treated for leukemia. When she died in 2008, the group staged a 24-hour game marathon, asking friends to sponsor them, paying $1 for every hour they played. More than 12,000 people donated.

That money paid for treatment and research at Texas Children’s Hospital, where Enmon was a patient. In the years since, the campaign has expanded, adding hospitals across the Children’s Miracle Network.

The Penn State Behrend gamers will play on behalf of the Saint Vincent Health System. This month they toured the hospital, getting a firsthand look at how the money they raise can help patients.

“Gamers aren’t ‘that pale kid in mom and dad’s basement,’” said Matthew White, lecturer in game development at Penn State Behrend. “They are, like the rest of our student body, focused, community-minded and trying to do whatever they can to make a difference.”

The Penn State Behrend team set an ambitious goal – $10,000 – for its first try at Extra Life. To boost donations, team members agreed to double the time they will spend playing: Their marathon will continue for 48 hours.

“It all sounds like fun and games,” White said, “but 48 hours is a long time. If we can get a dollar for every hour we play, for each player, that’s a lot of money going right to Saint Vincent in Erie.”

To contribute, or to follow the team’s progress online, go to http://perm.ly/psbgamecharity.