A billionaire businessman invited to Blenheim for a gaming tournament sent his apologies – and $500 for a good cause.
Stranded in New Zealand after borders closed due to Coronavirus, American gaming tycoon Gabe Newell, 57, was asked to a LAN party in Blenheim.
And while the president of video game developer and digital distribution company Valve couldn’t make it, he gifted the community organisation money instead.
Marlborough Media reporter Matt Brown helped organise Saturday’s successful MAG LAN gaming event to raise money for Crossroads Marlborough Charitable Trust.
He says he saw the gaming giant on TV One’s Breakfast show last week and decided to invite him along.
“I heard he was quite responsive to emails,” he says.
Gabe is helping to put on a concert to thank New Zealand for having him during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was on holiday from Seattle when the virus struck and opted to stay in Auckland and work remotely.
Matt says he thought Gabe might fancy a day out.
“I just thought I would try it on and see what happened,” Matt says.
“He got back to me really quickly; I didn’t expect an answer at all.
“I woke up to the reply email and was blown away – it really made my day.”
MAG LAN organiser Nathan Cross says it was a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with people you would otherwise only chat to over the internet.
“It was great to see everyone there having a good time,” he says.
About 12 people attended the LAN party which raised nearly $700.
Crossroads kitchen supervisor Richard McDonald was delighted with how the day went, and the unexpected windfall for the charity.
“I was really happy to see people in here having fun and seeing people connect over a hobby that doesn’t get a lot of support,” he says.
“We’re looking forward to building on that and getting more people in next time.”