KANSAS CITY - Tucked away in a corner of the Kansas City Convention Center, a different type of Halo is being played. On the main stage, elevated, with flashing lights and torrents of sound, Cloud9 and Sentinels are squaring off. In the corner, “RealLifeSpartan” is blowing a horn of some kind, live on Twitch after a donation.
Amidst all the noise and din of the event, the tapping of buttons from the open bracket, and the excitement of the main stage matches, a small crowd formed for a few seconds to see what was happening.
The reason these streamers are in that corner? Make-A-Wish. According to Tom Caillouette, a senior manager of corporate partnerships at Make-A-Wish, gaming wishes have grown astronomically over the past decade. Through a partnership with Microsoft and utilizing the Halo Grassroots partners, they’re raising money live at the Kansas City Major. “[Microsoft] were interested in fundraising for us to help fund additional wishes,” Caillouette said. “And so that's in part what we are doing here today is live charity stream from the HCS Kansas City event.”
According to the tally, they’re extremely close to reaching their $25,000 goal.
Part of that process has come from one of the Open Bracket teams, Caillouette says. “Native Gaming” made a generous $12,000 donation, a show of support from the Halo Community. The Grassroots program streamers are volunteering their time at the event to co-stream the matches, or stream content of their own.
The gig is simple – donate to the streamer that’s live from the event, and it goes immediately to the charity fund. They’re on-site to grab an even larger chunk of the community’s eyeballs in hopes of raising more – which they certainly seem to have accomplished.
Make-A-Wish and Microsoft have been partnering for some time, Caillouette says. Microsoft has helped grant wishes from their facilities in Seattle to people who want to learn how to become game developers. Moving into the esports scene is a natural extension of a pre-existing relationship.
Microsoft and 343 aren’t passive in this relationship, either. They’ve donated Halo merchandise and branded items, like a Nerf replica of the Bulldog shotgun, that donators can win if they donate on-site.
Whatever the future of the partnership is – it’s good to see some work being done for a good cause.