Gaming convention GuardianCon raises more than $2.7 million leading up to convention for St. Jude

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GuardianCon 2018 has taken over the Tampa Convention Center.  It’s an event dedicated to celebrating video games and video game culture.

The two-day gaming convention opened Friday after an already massively-successful weeklong charity gaming marathon benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 

More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the Tampa gaming convention that runs through Saturday at 5 p.m. 

“We're incredibly excited to be representing Tampa Bay in a positive light and gaming culture in the world,” said Ben Bowman, with GuardianCon.

Old school arcade games and new school gaming rigs were set up for players to show off their skills.

“It is an amazing family community every year I try to get here and spread the love with everyone else,” said attendee Jese Martinez.

 And no, it's not just for the boys.

“I think girls have always played video games it just hasn't been out there I guess and streaming is a good way to get the girls out there,” said streamer Taylor Dee.

Speaking of streaming, arguably the most popular gamer, Ninja took part in the charity blitz leading up to GuardianCon.

Among some of the goals and incentives were for Ninja to dye his hair once they reach $50,000. He also said he would get a tattoo if they reached $200,000 and anytime someone donated $500, he'd have to drop all materials while playing Fortnite.

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At one point during the blitz, an anonymous donor dropped $100,000. 

"We had 190,000 people watching at the end of the charity marathon last night," said Ben Bowman, co-founder of GuardianCon and Twitch broadcaster known as Professor Broman. "We raised $2.7 million in total for St. Jude Children's Hospital." 

“This event reaches a whole new audience for us,” St. Jude’s Jay Jump said.

The fundraising will continue throughout the weekend at GuardianCon. 

For more information on tickets and events, head to