By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi State University’s Video Game Club is raising funds for Global Solutions in Reproductive Health Care through Video Games for Africa, an event at the Colvard Student Union begun on Friday and continuing through Sunday.
On Friday, club vice president Ryan Gilbrech and other club members sold hot dogs on the Drill Field to raise funds, supplementing planned income from entry fees for video game tournaments over the weekend. Meanwhile, the club opened the Union ballroom for MSU students to enjoy casual play on displays ranging from laptop monitors to the ballroom projection screen, on systems including XBox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, PCs and Sega Dreamcast.
The event will be open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day and may move from the ballroom to the Dawghouse downstairs.
Gilbrech said the idea for the fundraiser sprung from his friendship with Benjamin Weed, vice-president and co-founder of the locally-based GSRHC.
“Ben and I are both in the agricultural and biological engineering department, and we both happen to play video games,” Gilbrech said.
Weed said while GSRHC is an independent nonprofit yet to become an official MSU student organization, it was founded by MSU students and alumni, and its members are largely biomedical engineering graduate and undergraduate students at MSU.
“We deliver targeted engineering-oriented solutions to medical care units in the developing world,” Weed said. “Our first colony is in Capetown, South Africa. There’s a lot of really great, interesting engineering problems in that area. The MSU Video Game Club has been nice enough to help.”
Gilbrech said once Weed told him about GSRHC, it became a clear choice for a fundraiser for his own club.
“It’s a really great cause,” Gilbrech said. “I mean, you’re helping pregnant women — and babies — in Africa.”
Club secretary Patrick Hyde said Video Games for Africa is not the club’s first fundraiser, but it is its most ambitious event yet. At the end of the spring 2011 semester, Hyde said, the club held a small fundraiser for victims of the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The club also held several tournaments over the course of the last year, Hyde said, featuring game series including “Super Smash Bros.,” “Halo,” “Call of Duty,” “Street Fighter,” “Marvel Vs. Capcom,” and “Mortal Kombat.”
The club hopes to reprise such tournaments with entry fees to raise funds this weekend, Hyde said, instead of charging fees just for people to come play casually.
“We were going to do some sort of entry fee, but we changed our mind,” Hyde said. “We might do some sort of tournament later, a tournament with entry fees.”
In addition to raising funds for GSRHC, Hyde said, the event is also intended to raise awareness of the MSU Video Game Club and attract members.
As of Friday, Gilbrech said the event has already raised hundreds of dollars.
The club formed almost one year ago, and Gilbrech said it has “come a long way since then.”
“It was between 12 and 13 people (back then.) We don’t really charge dues, so it’s hard to judge who our active members are now, but I would say we have about 40 now.”