Philanthropy & Houston Gaymers

One of the main things that we encourage through both our actions as a 501(c)(3) non-profit and to our members is a sense of philanthropy. We have in the past participated in and with other organizations such as the AIDS Walk Houston, HRC Houston – Hero Bowl, and Bunnies on the Bayou in their efforts to raise funds. We’ve run food drives for the Houston Food Bank, participated heavily with the organization Extra Life and in 2015 alone, we raised more than $3,200 for sick children within the Children’s Miracle Network.
With this attitude towards helping others in mind, we created our own charity named Project Blue Shell.

What is Project Blue Shell?

Project Blue Shell, named after a unique item within the Mario Kart games that helps players when they fall behind, is a custom box that contains a Nintendo 2DS, a copy of Mario Kart, and one other game. It also contains information on Houston Gaymers, along with branding on the system itself that says the box was donated by our group.  If the box is sponsored by another organization or business, their name will be included in the branding as well, recognizing their contribution.
While the boxes are mainly distributed to children’s hospitals, they are also given to other locations like nursing homes, women’s shelters, veteran’s organizations, and more.

What Project Blue Shell Accomplishes

The benefits to Project Blue Shell are numerous.
Its most obvious benefit is to bring happiness and increased wellness to sick children who can’t leave their beds or are having to spend a difficult amount of their childhood in a hospital. Texas Children’s Hospital, for instance, has a floor specifically dedicated to children, but children who are bedridden are not able to visit it. Having a engaging portable game ensures that all children are able to have something to do.
These boxes also serve as community outreach both in and for the LGBT+ community. Our parameters are aimed to improving the mental health and wellness of those in need within our own LGBT+ community at large, like with Lazarus House and Legacy Community Health.
While the boxes will be given to these groups, they will also be given to locations outside of our community.  Imagine you’re the parent of a sick child that is unable to leave their bed, but now they have a gaming system to distract them from their pain and being scared.  Noticing that this has been supplied by the LGBT+ community helps form a bridge between communities.
One of the most important benefits is that gaming heals. Study after study has shown that video games are good for those that are sick or in pain. Playing games is beneficial for the following reasons:
  1. Video games are therapeutic for children with chronic illnesses: The University of Utah released a study in 2012 that examined the effects of regular gaming on children diagnosed with illnesses like autism, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. Kids who played certain games, including one designed just for the study, showed signs of improvement in “resilience, empowerment, and a ‘fighting spirit.’”
  2. Video games reduce stress and depression: 2009’s Annual Review of Cybertherapy and Telemedicine included a study that found that gamers who suffered from mental health issues such as stress and depression were able to vent their frustration and aggression by playing video games — and showed a noted improvement. The study hypothesized that games gave certain “Type A” personalities time to relax in “a state of relative mindlessness” that allowed them to avoid reaching “a certain level of stressful arousal” as they tried to relax.
  3. Video games provide pain relief: Video games don’t just provide relief from emotional pain. They can also help those who are suffering from physical pain. Psychologists at the University of Washington developed a game that helps hospital patients suffering from immense physical pain by using an age-old mental trick: distraction. The virtual reality game “Snow World” put patients in an arctic wonderland in which they throw an endless arsenal of snowballs at a series of targets, such as penguins and snowmen. Military hospitals found the experience helped soldiers recovering from their battlefield wounds. The soldiers who played “Snow World” required less pain medicine during their recuperation.

How to Get Involved

Please e-mail us if your organization or business would like to help sponsor a box, talk to someone about receiving a box during our next distribution cycle, or would like to suggest an organization to receive a box.