U of W student group gathers to ‘Smash Homelessness’

Super Smash Bros. gamers raise money for homeless youth

Matt Dankewych helped found the U of W Smash Bros Association.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Part of the University of Winnipeg (U of W) gaming community will host a tournament to raise money for youth living in poverty.

Fans of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. video game series can take part in a charity event called Smash Homelessness to support the Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY) as part of 5 Days for the Homeless, a fundraiser for RaY that post-secondary schools across Canada participate in with many other fundraisers.

Matt Dankewych, co-founder of the U of W Smash Bros Association (UWSBA), is looking forward to hosting Smash Homelessness for the second year in a row.

“We set up tables and chairs in the Bulman Centre with old (CRT) TVs and GameCubes, as well as a projector, so people can watch some of the matches,” Dankewych says.

Dankewych explains tournaments usually have two main fees: one for admittance to the venue and another to enter a tournament bracket.

“As a charity tournament, it’s definitely not as competitive as some of our other tournaments, so we’ve lowered the (tournament bracket) entrance fees so that more people will enter,” he says.

The student group came from very small beginnings, Dankewych says.

A console set up for the UWBSA event.

“(We) officially started the group two years ago in September. We used it as an excuse to book out rooms at the university and play Smash,” he says.

The group gained a larger platform when it hosted last year’s iteration of Smash Homelessness in partnership with the Business and Administration Student Association (BASA). This sparked the weekly tournaments that UWSBA hosts, as well as their annual fundraiser in partnership with 5 Days for the Homeless.

Kate Armstrong, the communications assistant at RaY, says U of W has been participating in 5 Days for the Homeless since 2017.

“Funds raised by 5 Days for the Homeless are used to support programs for homeless, street-entrenched and marginalized youth in Winnipeg,” she says.

According to Armstrong, the organization provides a wraparound system of supports from basic needs and street outreach to housing, mental health and employment supports.

Players focus on playing Smash Bros. in the Bulman Centre.

“Other opportunities for third-party community fundraisers include barbeques, funding drives, walkathons and more,” Armstrong says.

With the upcoming release of the next installation in the Smash Bros. video game series, Dankewych foresees more newcomers to the community.

“We’re slowly bringing in the casual audience that saw the advertisement for (the new game),” he says.

Dankewych says the Smash Bros community at U of W is more oriented toward building the community rather than playing competitively.

“We’re definitely more inviting and a lot less competitive than other established communities,” he says. “Most of us are there to play the game and get better, but also to hang out and have a good time.”

Published in Volume 73, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 15, 2018)

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