Social games for social good

Raising money through new games and old

Virtual-reality arcades can be a good way for newcomers or skeptics to experience VR for the first time.

Supplied image

On Nov. 2, two fundraisers for children’s charities will happen with very different types of activities at their centres: Lee-Ann’s 5th Annual Pool Tournament to benefit Snowflake Place children’s advocacy centre and the Extra-Life Charity Marathon (a worldwide gaming marathon fundraiser for local children’s charities), in which Ctrl V Virtual Reality (VR) will take part.

While these two types of games might seem extremely different, the co-ordinators of both local events emphasize that social games tend to work better for fundraising, and both pool and VR meet that criteria.

Robert Fedoruk, the owner of Ctrl V Winnipeg, says that “virtual reality might not seem like it on the surface, but it’s a very social activity,” with groups of people playing together or sharing a VR setup. Because many people haven’t used VR, have used a cheaper version using a phone and cardboard headset or have used someone else’s system, people often come to a VR arcade like Ctrl V in groups and are interested in trying out a lot of experiences.

“If you’re going to an escape room, you know you’re going to do an escape room,” but “you walk into an arcade, you can choose from 50 different games and experiences,” he says. “The flexibility is probably the biggest differentiator between some of the other events that are out there.”

Lee-Ann Snydal-Bock, the founder of the Pool Tournament for Snowflake Place, says pool has been an important source of community.

“I play pool twice a week. Six years ago, when I started volunteering with Snowflake Place, we were looking for fundraising ideas, and I said ‘huh, what about a pool tournament?’” she says. Since then, Snowflake Place has held an annual pool fundraiser. Snydal-Bock says she is also friends with the owner of Crazy 8 Billiards, who donates space.

“It’s a good social game,” she says. “For most people who join the pool league, it’s a social night out.”

While both of these activities might be a little intimidating for people who haven’t played much pool or haven’t used a VR system before, the hosts say fundraisers like these are good chances to learn a little bit about the activities while supporting a good cause.

“Even if you don’t play pool, come on out. You’ll meet a lot of people, get in on the draws and maybe pique your interest for next year’s (tournament),” Snydal-Bock says.

Fedoruk says that for people who haven’t tried VR before or who have tried a phone setup and got dizzy or had vertigo, “the equipment that (Ctrl V) is using is set up in a way that gives you the best experience possible” and the staff can accommodate and tweak things for people who have had bad experiences with VR in the past.

Both fundraisers are also running side activities in addition to their main events. Ctrl V has a side station set up for Beat Saber, a VR rhythm game, for $5, and Snowflake Place’s Pool Tournament has a silent auction and 50/50 draws.

Lee-Ann’s 5th Annual Pool Tournament takes place at Crazy 8 Billiards and Lounge (42-480 Berry St.) from noon to 10 p.m. on Nov. 2. Register to play at Crazy 8 or by emailing [email protected]. The 24-hour Extra-Life Charity Marathon will take place from Nov. 2 to 3 at Ctrl V (G-1045 St. James St.).

Published in Volume 74, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 31, 2019)

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