A Vancouver company has created a video game character in memory of a five-year-old video game fan who died of cancer, raising $50,000 for medical research in the process.
Sarah Parries loved to sit on her father's lap as they played MechWarrior, an online robot shooter game made by Chinatown-based Piranha Games.
When she was sick with an inoperable brain tumour, Jon Parries asked the gamer community to say hello to his daughter at Canuck Place hospice in their online forum. She passed away a few days later.
The company posted a memorial and got a huge reaction from subscribers. Many wanted to donate money in Sarah's memory.
"When you look at our demographic, 25 to 40, we have a lot of people who have families and have kids, so I think it struck a nerve there," said Brian Ekman, founder and creative director of Piranha Games.
"Our community said, 'Hey, I'm that dad, I'm that mom, I've been there, I've lost somebody to cancer, I know what this is like,'" he added.
The company quickly built a character in Sarah's honour and this week invited subscribers to donate $10 to play the game.
The robot is decorated with things Sarah liked, such as a teddy bear, a horse, hearts and rainbows. The developers also added Band-Aids and yellow daffodils from the cancer society logo.
Close to $50,000 has already been raised for the Canadian Cancer Society.