In an effort to fight online medical disinformation and raise money for research, the Fred Hutch Cancer Center is tapping into video games.
The Stream for Fred Hutch charity program launched in late 2018 and pairs online content creators from all over the U.S. and Europe with Fred Hutch scientists to create video logs, chat sessions, and Q&As.
Dr. Amitabha “Guppy” Gupta, a Fred Hutch scientific content strategist, said the goal is to meet the younger audience “where they live,” on livestreams and other new media platforms, in order to give them reliable information from experts on topics like COVID research and cancer prevention.
“The role that I play is as a connector between all the science that is internal to everything external,” said Gupta, a self-described in-house science translator. “That [position] doesn’t actually exist at other places. It gives us this massive capability to share science at scale, if you will.”
Fred Hutch’s efforts in the charity streaming space have included direct broadcasts by its staff and researchers, as well as collaboration with the Seattle Online Broadcasters’ Association.
“Especially during COVID, when there was so much misinformation out there, we wanted to be a place where we could answer general questions,” said Jackie Montstream, Fred Hutch’s streaming coordinator. “It was very positively received.”
The content on Fred Hutch-sponsored charity streams has ranged from gaming-focused, where hosts have played multiplayer video games with Fred Hutch scientists and researchers, to live music and Q&As. Stream for Fred Hutch has raised $70,000 for medical research since its debut, including just under $5,800 late last year as part of a special “Raids for Research” event.
“We are really hoping to grow the program and continue connecting with communities,” said Montstream. “We want to make our science accessible to the most people possible, and if that’s on these charity streams, that’s awesome. If folks feel empowered to fundraise for us while also learning about science, that’s just an extra plus.”
Streamers who work with Fred Hutch are given tools to help with their broadcasting, including a special streaming toolkit and access to Fred Hutch’s staff. Montstream and Gupta make a specific effort to match partnered creators with causes that align with their particular interests.
A Washington state-based streamer who worked with Fred Hutch is ItsN0G00d, from Wenatchee, Wash. ItsN0G00d is a Gulf War veteran and Twitch affiliate whose broadcasts focus on music, first-person shooters, and the popular battle royale PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
As part of the now-defunct 303 eSports team, ItsN0G00d streamed for almost a full day on Twitch with Fred Hutch’s Alex Germanos, playing Apex Legends while discussing Germanos’ cancer research. In conjunction with the other 303 eSports streamers, ItsN0G00d raised a total of $4,000 for Fred Hutch.
“My older brother passed away from leukemia,” ItsN0G00d told GeekWire. “I also have a very dear friend who is up and down, in and out of remission. Fred [Hutch] is just working so hard to keep people fighting.”
Gingersnaps97 is another creator who streamed for Fred Hutch, among several other charities. As a variety streamer, her broadcasts cover art, video logs, and games like Minecraft. In December, she raised $4,000 for Fred Hutch’s HIV/AIDS research, with Fred Hutch’s Carley Gray guesting on Ginger’s stream to answer audience questions and play Dead by Daylight.
“I have raised for other organizations like Fred Hutch, but when Jackie told me they also research infectious diseases like herpes and HIV/AIDS, I was in,” Ginger told GeekWire. “I have friends who have HIV/AIDS and have lost friends to it, so for me it was a no-brainer. I still am trying to plan a visit to Fred Hutch and this won’t be my only event for them.”
Content creators of any size who are interested in working with Fred Hutch can sign up with the organization via the official Fred Hutch website, or by reaching out to Jackie Montstream directly.