Video Games: A Matter of Life and Death?
Published 4 years ago
Fighting Villains and Cancer with Videogames
In May of 2006, the then 11-year-old boy, Taylor Carol, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, and the doctors predicted that he had two weeks to live. But Taylor proved them wrong. What’s more, he found a special way to cope with the endless months in isolation, and loss of normal childhood activity. Video games rescued Taylor’s childhood, allowing him to communicate with other kids, and distracting him from the otherwise nearly unbearable period of his cancer treatment.
After a grueling five-year battle with cancer, Taylor fully recovered and went on to found the nonprofit organization, GameChanger, with his father in 2008. GameChanger helps children and families suffering from cancer and other rare diseases by providing the kids with game experiences and other types of entertainment.
A GameChanger visit with some gaming goodies brings a smile to a child’s face at UCLA Children’s Hospital.
I’m pleased to say that Unity has now committed to supporting GameChanger with awareness campaigns and donations. We’ll also be contributing tutorials to an exciting new GameChanger technology platform, which will deliver streaming content and interactive activities exclusively to hospitalized children.  
I can’t think of a more worthy cause to support. GameChanger brings hope to the kids and families who need it most. And it does so in a tangible way that has an immediate and direct impact. Every parent and family’s worst fear is having to face a crisis and challenge like this.  I implore everyone in the community who can afford to get involved, even in a modest way, to do so by making a donation.


Straight to the kids and their families

Unlike traditional fundraising charities, GameChanger repurposes donated items and uses digital technologies to help children directly. This business model requires a low overhead and a small staff, which makes them highly efficient.
Charity Watch considers an organization to be highly efficient when 75% of their donations go to the beneficiary. By comparison, 96% of GameChanger’s donations and money make it to the patients and their families.
In the nine years since they were founded, GameChanger has:
  • Met and helped 10,000 kids dealing with life-threatening illnesses
  • Raised over $200,000 towards finding a cancer cure
  • Donated over 20,000 video games to hospitals, children centers, partner charities and families
  • Awarded 57 character-based college scholarships to cancer survivors and other inspiring young role models who battled through adversity
GameChanger founder, Jim Carol, with one of the youngest, and bravest, kids the charity organization has ever met.

Can video games actually help children survive life-threatening diseases?

A 2012 study from the University of Utah suggests that not only can video games help patients with cancer and other diseases to cope, they can actually have health-related benefits.
This research is in line with what GameChangers have experienced with so many of the children they’ve helped. For example, when the organization brought a game to toddler, Christian, who was waiting for a heart transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the impact was evident.
According to his mother, up until then, Christian had been listless and barely had had the energy to sit up. The game had an immediate effect.
“He started sitting up for longer and longer each day, and he learned how to use the Xbox controller and play on his own,” Christian’s mother says. “He has more energy because of how his lungs and failing heart work when he’s sitting up. His occupational therapist is thrilled because of how he’s learning to use the controller.”
In 2016, as a part of the Gamers Give Back tour, GameChanger will meet 8,000 kids like Christian with life-threatening diseases. They will help the children and their families get through some of the most difficult challenges imaginable in life.
Learn more about GameChanger and the various ways you can help:
Make an online donation that goes directly to the cause
Send excess or obsolete electronics inventory to the charity
Schedule a pickup to donate video games, consoles and gear to the kids
Matthew Fini