Starlight Gaming: Delivering Happiness to Seriously Ill Kids Through Video Games

When a child is hospitalized, they often feel pain and become restless, bored, and anxious. They’re in an unfamiliar environment that can be really scary. Kids are away from all of their own toys, movies, and games that would typically bring them joy and comfort. That’s when the Starlight Gaming Station rolls into their hospital room and transforms the whole environment.

For Starlight kid Corrigan, who suffers from citrullinemia, a rare genetic disorder that causes ammonia and other toxic substances to accumulate in the bloodstream, Starlight Gaming brought him hours of happiness at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

“It is critical that these children experience joy in medical circumstances. Their mental health is so affected by long stays, scary procedures, and separation from friends and toys,” said Corrigan’s mom, Mindy. “Playing familiar games and systems, like the ones Starlight donates, gives them that little connection to home and sense of normalcy, allowing them to escape a bit from the hospital they’re stuck in.”

What is Starlight Gaming?

For over 28 years, these Starlight Gaming Stations have provide fun on wheels!

Our specially manufactured stations were designed to meet hospitals’ strict infection safety protocols and can be easily transported throughout the hospital — from the ER to a waiting room or even up to a patient’s bedside.

"The Starlight Gaming Stations are an incredible and unique tool that helps turn a sick or injured child’s pain, fear and stress into smiles and, we are thrilled and thankful to Starlight Children’s Foundation for this generous gift.” —Dr. Anthony Scaduto, Orthopedic Institute for Children

Kids can play by themselves or enjoy gaming or watching movies and TV shows with siblings and friends.

For a hospitalized child, the Gaming Station helps combat pain, boredom, and loneliness by giving them instant access to popular games like Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Madden NFL, NBA 2k13, and more. For caregivers, it’s a tool that supports recovery by providing opportunities to engage and to promote activity.

Starlight’s Long History with Gaming

Starlight made its big debut into gaming back in the late 1980s. Starlight’s founder, filmmaker Peter Samuelson, visited a child in the hospital and realized that kids had no form of entertainment except a small TV mounted way up on the wall that required a nurse to change the channel.

So, working out of his garage, Peter set out to build the first-ever Gaming Station, formerly known as a Starlight Fun Center, specially customized just for pediatric patients. He used a hospital lunch tray on wheels, a television, and a Nintendo Entertainment System — and Starlight Gaming was born!

In 1992, we created the first-ever Starlight Gaming console fully customized to deliver happiness to seriously ill children.

Starlight Gaming provides hospitalized kids with hours of fun and distraction through their favorite video games and streaming movies and TV shows right from the comfort of their hospital bed or in a playroom with a group of other kids.

Fast forward to 2021, and more than 11.6 million hospitalized kids have enjoyed playing their favorite video games thanks to Starlight.

Thanks to our generous donors, 7,200+ Starlight Gaming Stations have delivered happiness to over 11.6 million children at 900+ children’s hospitals and pediatric units in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Gaming’s Impact on Hospitalized Kids

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, school-aged children and adolescents seek play that contributes to feelings of mastery and achievement.

That’s just one of the reasons why kids love video games so much.

Research also shows the emotional benefits of gaming include improved moods, reduced anxiety, and that it is an effective distraction method.

We’ve seen that time and time again with Starlight Gaming.

“Starlight Gaming has been a great aid in helping patients cope with hospitalization,” said Lexi Little, Certified Child Life Specialist at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System in Shreveport, Louisiana. “We cannot thank Starlight enough for impacting the lives of our patients, families, and staff members on a daily basis.”

Starlight Gaming also provides fun for the whole family. When siblings visit the hospital, they typically don’t have many things to do and have to wait for hours at a time so Starlight Gaming provides respite for the family, and siblings and parents can enjoy a fun game together!

Delivering Happiness through Gaming 

“I couldn’t do my job without Starlight's Gaming Stations. They make a huge difference, especially for kids who are having pain management issues.” —Heather, Child Life Specialist

Help us deliver happiness to pediatric patients, parents, and hospital staff through Starlight Gaming.

Just $15 provides 15 hours of happiness to thousands of seriously ill kids.

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