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Gaming specialist makes life more normal for kids at Children's Hospital

A guy is paid to play video games and help sick kids forget their problems - if even for a little while.

KUSA — Princess Peach or Mario?

It's a tough choice every kid has to make when they fire up Mario Kart on Nintendo.

Consuela Martinez doesn't hesitate, though.

"I'm gonna be that one," she says, pointing at the screen in front of her.

Michael Kundrat is trying to bring to make the kids at Children's Hospital feel like... kids.

Princess Peach all the way.

"Go!" she shouts, as the race got underway.

During the time it took to complete three laps around the track, Consuela could push her problems to the back of her mind. She could forget she was at the hospital.

"How are you so good at this game?" her opponent, Michael Kundrat asks.

Kundrat is Children's Hospital Colorado's new Gaming and Technology Specialist.

Michael Kundrat is trying to bring to make the kids at Children's Hospital feel like... kids.

"The main goal of my job is to basically use any kind of video games or technology to make life easier or more normal for kiddos here in the hospital," he said.

He's part of the hospital's Child Life Department. Child Life specialists do what they can to bring kids' normal lives into the hospital.

His boss, Chris Coleman, applied for a grant with gaming charity Child's Play to fund Michael's position for a year. The Child Life department got so many requests for things like video games and virtual reality, Coleman decided it was time to act.

"It's just a part of their normal everyday life, so making it part of their normal everyday healthcare experience just makes sense," he said.

The grant runs out this summer, so the Gaming Specialist position is temporary for now. Coleman says the program is working, though, and is looking at ways to make Michael's job permanent.

"I'm super grateful and very privileged honestly to have this job. I love it," Kundrat said.

His job isn't just playing games.

Kundrat uses virtual reality to help kids too sick to leave their rooms escape into other worlds. He's also involved in research at the hospital

Michael Kundrat is trying to bring to make the kids at Children's Hospital feel like... kids.

"I've been helping out with a research project where we've been trying to use these AR headsets... as a distraction tool for kids changing burn dressings," he said.

Whether his job lasts a few more months or a few more years, Kundrat is going to do what he can to make life more normal for kids at the hospital.

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