With all of the continual media controversy over violent video games and their negative impact on society, it's refreshing to see these same games in a positive light every now and then. This is especially true when games are used to lift the spirits of hospitalized children, something we've seen in efforts like Child's Play and the Get-Well-Gamers Foundation. Now, Microsoft has become the latest gaming organization to follow its moral compass, inking a partnership with NHL legend Pat LaFontaine's nonprofit Companions in Courage to bring 450 Xbox 360 game kiosks to children's hospitals in the US.
The kiosks will come pre-loaded with select games, movies and television content, and will allow children to play games and chat with each other across a private "safety-enhanced" flavor of Xbox Live. The kiosks will be rolled out in waves, with the first wave being kicked off with three simultaneous events today at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, the Children's Hospital of Orange County in California, and the Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center of Seattle, the latter of which will feature a presentation by Microsoft exec Robbie Bach.
This morning we had the opportunity to speak briefly with LaFontaine about his charity's role in the humanitarian effort, and as a self-professed hockey fan I managed to keep myself from geeking out long enough to pick his brain. "It's funny," he told us, "because we've actually had a partnership with Microsoft for a long time on our Lion's Den rooms, where kids can play games and chat with each other." He added that the kiosks will feature age-appropriate games and content, including some sitcoms, all designed to offer children what he called a "safe haven experience."
LaFontaine, who joked about how things have come full circle given that he actually began his foundation using Microsoft stock, added that while the kiosks will be primarily used by children to play and interact with each other, "there could be times when celebrities or athletes jump on as well to play with the kids as well." It's a heart-warming effort, and is one that the hockey legend is obviously very passionate about.
"There is more and more research that supports the idea that distracting the mind from pain promotes healing. We're helping the healing process, and with the kids laughing and talking with each other online I think this gives them a much better chance of feeling better about themselves than being isolated and surrounded by cold machines."
Video games, is there anything they can't do?