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I heard about Extra Life from Rooster Teeth and RT Sidequest about the same time.
I play for my cousin’s eldest child, Molly. She was a premie and when she was little it was hard. Helmets and surgery. Braces for her legs. For a while, she seemed more distracted by lights and shiny things to even realize people were there.

Now she’s 7 years old with the biggest smile and personality. 
I have been playing since 2013 and have no intention of stopping. I’ll play anything from video games to D&D and share as much as I can.

This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Robin Moore. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

I've had three grandparents pass away due to cancer, and my hope and prayer is that projects like Extra Life and Folding @ Home will one day help save someone's son, daughter, mother, or father from cancer.
I joined Extra Life last year after hearing about my friend Brad Senkovich who has done it for years.
Last year I joined his team, but this year I'm trying to get my whole squadron to join! (I'm active duty military and I'm navigating the fundraising process as we speak. I'd love to see my whole base join in someday, but for now I am starting at a more realistic goal...) I'm playing for the Children's Hospital Colorado at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver, CO.

My game of choice? Too many to count! But my son and I love builder/crafter games like Minecraft, Portal Knights, Terraria, and Starbound. And I love playing RPGs with my wife like Final Fantasy 14.
My motto? "Speak for the silent. Stand for the broken." Love what you guys are doing! Keep up the good work!

This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Nate Swanson playing for Children's Hospital of Colorado. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

I have two children that were born with Cystic Fibrosis. This is a disease I never even heard about until the first one was diagnosed with it.
Everything that these two boys go through just melts my heart, and I love seeing how strong and brave they are to push through it all. This is why I Extra Life.

This post was submitted through Extra Life’s Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Kristen Connor. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Hi, my name is Luke and 2018 is my second year with Extra Life.

I Extra Life because of my grandpa that passed away a couple months ago from cancer. Our local hospital did all they could, and I just wanted to pay them back by supporting them and raising money for them through Extra Life by doing something I love, which is gaming and streaming!!!
As we all know, having a relative or someone very close pass away is the hardest thing to deal with, but having friends and charities that support you every day is something to love!! THANK YOU EXTRALIFE ❤️ #4THEKIDS

This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Luke Eaton playing for Children's of Alabama. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

I Extra Life for Kaden Stinson.

He is the 9-year-old son of one of my best friends in the Kansas City area. Kaden was born with a heart defect that required open-heart surgery within days of being born to save his life.


To this day, CMN Hospitals continues to help and support the family with their trips to the pediatric cardiac team in Kansas City.

It’s this support long after the surgery has been completed that really makes the heart warm and fuzzy. It makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing to help support an amazing organization that does so much good, no matter what the situation is.

This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Joseph Skorupski playing for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Even though my brother Hunter wasn't diagnosed with cancer, our family got a big scare when he got sick at the end of April 2014.

He was always extremely energetic, laughing, and talking about everything until he didn't want to eat or do anything. Then he kept throwing up even without having eaten anything the entire day. My mom took him to our doctor to see what was wrong and he told my mom Hunter had appendicitis. He said it was serious and called for a helicopter escort to the only hospital that could help him.
Hunter was flown to the children's hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas and stayed there for nearly three weeks. During that time, the doctors had seen that his appendix ruptured and whatever was inside was spreading fast. They caught it in time before anything worse could have happened. My mom had to miss my senior band concert and awards ceremonies before my graduation, but I didn't care about that, I just wanted my brother to be okay.
He recovered from his surgery and he got to see me graduate from high school. He came home two days before I walked across that stage. I gave him the biggest hug when I got my diploma! I have been thankful every day since then, that Children’s Miracle Network and the hospital in Little Rock helped my little brother and now he is 13 years old!

I have been participating in Extra Life since September 2014 because I heard from the gamers club at CSUB that they were playing video games to help raise money for the Lauren Smalls Children’s Hospital in Bakersfield. I love playing all kinds of video games and I wanted to help any child that I could, so I signed right up. It's been 5 years since then and I try to make donations at least once a month. I want to help children and families because my family received help in our time of need.
This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Jordan Bailey. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Why do I extra life? I do not have a heartfelt reason or personal connection, however, I feel like it is my responsibility as someone who was lucky to not have a hard childhood. Someone healthy and lucky who didn't have to grow up as fast as the children who benefit from this program.

I Extra Life because I want to help push the research, technology, and advancements so that hopefully one day these children no longer have to grow up so fast.
I was introduced to Extra Life by Josh Silverman of @ConCalPod on Twitter. He is a champion for charities, betterment, and overall humanitarian. He has involved me 2 years in a row and I plan on doing more, all for the kids.

I am validated and honored to stand with the men and women who work towards charitable goals every year and help more good go to the cause. Thank you for giving us a funnel to work into and a campaign to champion for. See you in 2019! ❤️ -Jordan Woodruff "Cutwright"
This post was submitted through Extra Life's Why I Extra Life by Extra Lifer Jordan Woodruff. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Jack Gardner
Technology develops at a rapid pace, but sometimes it can be hard to appreciate just how quickly things can move. This can be easily seen in the history of hard drive growth. Weighing in at a monstrous 550 pounds, IBM created the first 1 gigabyte hard drive in 1980. Less than a year ago, Sony worked with IBM to develop a magnetic storage system that can save up to 330 terabytes—330,000 times the storage capacity of that fridge-sized device in the palm of your hand. That’s also 330,000 times the amount of data being stored—data that can be obtained in a large-scale data breach. To keep pace with the escalating need to secure that data, cybersecurity has grown from a practically unheard-of industry in the 1980s into a multibillion dollar industry, ballooning in size from $3.5 billion in 2004 to over $120 billion in 2017. 
The cybersecurity industry develops alongside the wider tech world to meet its ever-evolving needs. Increasingly, recruitment has become one of the biggest problems facing the industry. It’s not necessarily an issue of budgeting or technical infrastructure, though both of those can become concerns. The Black Hat conference, a yearly gathering of cybersecurity specialists, has routinely ranked the inability to bring in new talent as the number one reason digital security measures fail and an overwhelming majority of conference attendees felt as if they lacked the means to refine their abilities. In other words, cybersecurity has emerged as a technological necessity so quickly that many programmers, both inside and outside the field, feel that they lack access to the skills required to compete.

One of the most unexpected solutions to the pressing question of recruiting promising cybersecurity talent has been the turn toward video games. McAfee conducted a recent survey of 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals from across a wide variety of major corporations. Of that pool of 950 cybersecurity experts, 92% believed that skills fostered by games, such as tenacity, logic, and predicting hostile strategies, could make the gaming community an ideal, untapped reservoir of candidates.
Why, exactly, do these professionals believe gamers make such attractive candidates for cybersecurity positions? Michael McKeirnan, a Security Consultant at Deja vu Security, offered an explanation, translating the industry’s unexpected assessment. “To me, the skills developed by gaming could be arguably summarized as practice obsessing over digital problems. I think anyone who has seen both a hacker and a gamer obsessing over something can immediately understand the relationship. That ability to completely lose yourself in the problem is a valuable skill in the industry—partially because of the work ethic that comes from that obsession, and partially because of the comprehensive knowledge that type of person usually has in their domain.”
When it comes to skills, there seemed to be some degree of overlap, a similar line of thinking that gives a certain type of gamer a mindset with many applications in cybersecurity. “I'm personally not much of a gamer,” said McKeirnan, “but in my experience there's a small, intangible reward for every goal reached, or level cleared; the same can be said of finding bugs in code. That similarity means that the mindset transfers pretty fluidly from gaming to hacking.”

When asked specifically about the McAfee survey, McKeirnan found himself split on the issue. There are compelling arguments to be made on behalf of gamers, but the mindset and skills many cite as making gamers good candidates for cybersecurity aren’t necessarily unique to gamers. “With regard to the survey question, I certainly agree that the two have many similarities and that a certain type of gamer may make an excellent computer security engineer, but I'm not sure I'd buy in to the degree of hiring a gamer with no security training or experience,” he explained. He went on to describe what Deja seeks out in their hiring process, saying, “During our interviews, one of the qualities we look for is the ‘attacker mindset.’ The goal is to find that dogged problem-solving, goal-oriented mentality that we believe makes excellent hackers. In my experience, this mentality is shared by many excellent gamers; but I think that it's certainly possible to be a gamer and not have that mindset, and to have that mindset but not be overly excited about video games. As such, I'd say the candidate's drive and interest in our field, coupled with that attacker mindset, is much more important to me.”
However, despite any reservations regarding gamers, senior managers at cybersecurity firms across the industry find themselves turning to more drastic measures to fill their short-term needs. The McAfee survey found that 75% of senior managers at cybersecurity firms reported that they would hire a gamer with no experience in the field and train them internally just to meet their projected short-term needs. The talent shortage in cybersecurity poses a large, persistent, and growing problem for both private and public interests in the long-term.
Luckily for those managers, there’s no shortage of people who play video games. The medium has become the most popular form of entertainment on the planet, grossing record-breaking profits year after year. In 2016, 1.8 billion people played video games to some extent, a number that’s only expected to go up as technological infrastructure spreads around the world and the population increases.

Having identified a large and growing field of potential talent, tech firms have been puzzling over how to break into gaming to snag some of the most qualified candidates. Offering bug bounties to anyone who can find an exploit that leaves sensitive information vulnerable stands as one of the oldest and most generalized approaches to digital security. While it certainly works to fill in unknown vulnerabilities, the process is often too vague to engage anyone outside of a niche community of hackers or enthusiasts and doesn’t cast a wide enough net to recruit talent to the company itself. Not to mention there are emerging concerns over the uncontrolled nature of such programs that can alert those outside of proper communication channels that data breaches have occurred.
Framing cybersecurity as an evolving puzzle can change public perception of the industry, gamifying it in the eyes of future professionals. Meeting that changed perspective with competitive initiatives can create a game-like atmosphere around the industry. The most popular of these competitions are Capture the Flag (CTF) events. These trials test the ability of participants across a wide range of skills relevant in the security industry. Often these competitions are sponsored by companies like Uber, Walmart, Raytheon, Snapchat, Amazon, or IBM, and are used to recruit promising talent.
The two most popular formats of CTF are called jeopardy and attack-defend. Jeopardy presents teams with several categories of challenges that require technical answers to problems facing areas such as cryptography, hacking, forensics, networking, and programming. Attack-defend challenges pit two or more teams against each other to use any means necessary to take and maintain control of an isolated network of computers. Competitive CTF events can be found throughout the industry, with notable examples like the US Cyber Challenge, the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, or at larger tech meetings like Google’s Chromium Conference. Those who rise to the top of these competitions become highly sought after by the companies who watch them intently. Rather than a job interview, excelling at a major competition can prove to be a method of entering the industry for those who find it engaging.
 “[The founders of Deja] were on a team that won the DEFCON CTF several times and subsequently ran that competition for a number of years afterwards,” Deja vu Security’s McKeirnan explained when asked about these competitions. “We love to talk about CTFs and CTF problems with our candidates, but we also sympathize with people who aren't overly fond of them. Some CTFs have a few ‘guess what's in my pocket’-type problems that can really rub some bright folks the wrong way.”
Thankfully, the competitive space has become more varied with time. More variations on the traditional CTF types appear frequently and McKeirnan offered that a more equitable type of challenge could be found in wargame simulations. “There are some public wargames and challenge sets that we really like, and we love to chat with candidates about how they solved these problems and what they learned by doing them.” McKeirnan’s two favorite wargames of note are The Matasano Crypto Pals published by Matasano Security and the Over the Wire problems. “These types of wargames don't generally have a leaderboard or anything, but most people in the industry are familiar with them and they're a great way for folks to show some serious initiative and play some games at the same time.” While those exercises aren’t flashy and won’t win prestige in a public setting, they will teach valuable skills in a gamified format that will leave potential employers in cybersecurity eager to hire.

While these initiatives are often aimed toward adults, some competitions are designed to educate the ever more technologically literate youth and offer scholarships to talented youngsters who excel. Programs like the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot aim to make cybersecurity problem-solving fun for kids grades K-12.  Introducing the next generation to a world of competitions is framed as a long-term investment by the public and private interests sponsoring these initiatives. They seek to secure a steady stream of talent for years to come.
The creative solutions to reach gamers have taken many forms over the last few years. Information security companies often make use of low-tech games that are meant to demonstrate skills such as codebreaking. Deja vu Security, for example, makes use of cards printed with different bite-sized challenges. McKeirnan explained that “puzzles like the cards are somewhat common in the industry, though certainly not ubiquitous. They provide excellent signals about how motivated and skilled candidates are before they even show up to an interview. Typically, if a candidate has completed or made significant progress through a challenge, they're an excellent fit.”
These pocket-sized challenges can be easily distributed, and they offer a wide range of puzzles from simple codebreaking to deciphering elliptic curve cryptography. This makes them ideal for identifying competitive candidates in the wild at job fairs, though they aren’t the only options available. “Lately we've using an in-person ‘find the bug’ challenge instead [of the cards]. For that one, we post a sample of code at the booth with some known security vulnerabilities and direct anyone who's interested to ‘find the bug.’ This one is a big hit at career fairs.” McKeirnan said. “We consistently have crowds [of people] blocking off the whole area, just staring at the code until they think they've figured it out. Even recruiters from other companies usually come over near the end of the event to try and give it a go. We really like that type of challenge because it gives us a chance to talk over the problem with our potential candidates; we can see how they're thinking, and get to know them a bit better before we've even added their resume to the pile. Better still, many folks who wouldn't have submitted their answer online will come talk to us about it because we're right there.”

This type of approach brings in new types of people with gamified challenges, though it operates on a small scale. Larger solutions loom on the horizon. If it’s difficult to train people up to dealing with the current level of complex technology, maybe it is possible to streamline complicated cybersecurity functions down to meet new talent on their own level with a game-like setting.
In an announcement issued earlier this year, McAfee’s Chief Information Security Officer Grant Bourzikas stated, “With cybersecurity breaches being the norm for organizations, we have to create a workplace that empowers cybersecurity responders to do their best work. […] Keeping our workforce engaged, educated, and satisfied at work is critical to ensuring organizations do not increase complexity in the already high-stakes game against cybercrime.” Bourzikas makes a good point about streamlining the protection process on all fronts, and that includes recruitment. ProtectWise CEO Scott Chasin builds on that idea with the assumption that attracting new talent will be easier with a less daunting interface that feels more intuitive. What better way to do that than with a gamified digital environment to make the positions more attractive? 
To that end, Chasin’s company developed a tool called ProtectWise Grid, a UI overlay that creates a virtual city within which all devices connected to a given network appear. The software represents each device as a building that varies in size and shape depending on the kind of device, connection, and amount of data being used. Chasin believes his software holds at least part of the key to solving the cybersecurity shortage facing the industry by using a game-like model to lower the skill level necessary to enter the industry.

The goal of the technology is to meet incoming talent in a manner they intuitively understand, skipping a lot of the technical know-how that traditional candidates require currently. "Level one analysts today require very advanced skillsets. In a UI like this, we can remove that," Chasin said. Given the ubiquity of gaming in the tech world, this could be a great help in bringing in entry level candidates. Of course, those who move up to leadership positions in cybersecurity will really have to know their stuff, but as Chasin notes, “You don't have to be a pilot to fly a drone.”
By 2019, some organizations like Symantec, ISACA, and Cybersecurity Ventures predict a global shortage of over two million digital security specialists. However, the numerous gamified solutions to the ongoing cybersecurity shortage offer hope to those struggling on the frontlines against cybercriminals. An increasing emphasis on gamification techniques, both the tried-and-true methods of companies like Deja vu Security and the seemingly sci-fi solutions on the horizon, might just help us thwart the next big data theft or cyberattack.
This piece has been cross-posted on the Deja vu Security blog.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Being a buster of ghosts without a proton pack takes a lot of work. HellSign tosses players into a dark and spooky world filled with hauntings and supernatural beings out to make the world a living nightmare. Each new case will have players tackling a new kind of monster; it'll take some sleuthing and preparation to correctly identify the spirit take it down successfully.
As a paranormal investigator, players will create their own characters from scratch. Initially armed with nothing but some rust-covered hunting gear, players will work their way up the ranks of ghastly entities. Each case will help further open up the non-linear narrative, making each journey through HellSign unique to that investigator. 
HellSign takes place in Australia where players earn a living by fighting ghosts n' ghoulies. The game was created with the intention of mimicking monster-of-the-week television shows like Supernatural or The X-Files. Not gonna lie, the idea of becoming an Australian ghost hunter with an RPG framework and intriguing mysteries to solve is an easy sell for me. 
Players will explore locations like abandoned houses, barns, warehouses, etc. as they try to figure out what happened to draw a supernatural creature to that area. While exploring these spooky locales, various clues can be discovered, like blood spatters, tracks, or mysterious relics, that will help point toward what kind of apparition might be present. Everything a player discovers and identifies will be recorded in the Cryptonomicon for future reference. 
Once players have figured out, or believe they have figured out what sort of being haunts the area, it's time to gear up for battle. Players can only hold so many items at a time, so there's an element of inventory management and survival gameplay going on. Do you take the silver bullets or do you need a specialized scanner to see the creature? How you answer questions like that will mean the difference between victory and defeat. 
HellSign manifests on November 7 via Steam Early Access.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
The beleaguered adventuring party spends its first night relaxing in the safety of Riverton until a dastardly crime leads them astray. 
We Wanted Adventurers is a liveplay Dungeons & Dragons podcast that follows a motley trio of unlikely heroes as they bumble into adventures both big and small across the fantastical continent of Nevarrone. For the uninitiated, a liveplay podcast features an unscripted recording of a traditional tabletop roleplaying game, with all of the goofs and drama that comes with the territory.

You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. You can follow the show on Twitter for updates. Let us know what you think of the show! We know that some parts of it are a bit bumpy, but I hope it doesn't get in the way of your enjoyment as we all learn and grow together. Thank you for listening! 
New episodes of We Wanted Adventurers will be released every Wednesday
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
BioShock Infinite, the swan song of Ken Levine's now defunct Irrational Games studio, released in 2013 to critical and commercial success. Over the years it has been subject to countless think pieces and theory articles diving into its esoteric world and thick layers of semiotics. It also found itself in something like a controversy surrounding criticism of its use of graphic violence. Despite it all, many point to it as a milestone in game design and praise the depth of its narrative.

Now that it has been half a decade since its release, does BioShock Infinite stand as one of the best games of all-time? Is it the best BioShock of the series? Listen in to find out!
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.

Outro music: Dragon Warrior VII 'Deeper in the Heart' by Bluelighter, Arvangath, Chris ~ Amaterasu, and Katamari (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03762)
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well!
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
The company that both develops and publishes the popular MMO Black Desert Online has announced that CCP Games will be coming into its fold. The move will have CCP Games' three studios in Reykjavik, London, and Shanghai continue operations independently for the foreseeable future, so worry not EVE Online fans! Going forward, Pearl Abyss will be combining the skills of CCP with its current projects, presumably meaning Black Desert, as well as future projects on the horizon.  
EVE Online has been going strong since 2003, 15 years of ever larger space conflicts, political backstabbing, and economic swindling. The space-faring RPG is one of the biggest MMOs in North America and Europe, markets the South Korean Pearl Abyss has been attempting to expand into over the past few years. The CEO of Pearl Abyss, Robin Jung, said about the acquisition, "We are thrilled to have CCP Games join our team as Black Desert Online continues to branch out globally. CCP is a seasoned publisher with over 15 years of digital distribution experience and know-how. They have done an incredible job of engaging and maintaining their playerbase, which we aim to learn from and hope to integrate natively into Pearl Abyss’ general practices across all our games. I am confident CCP’s reputable IP and expertise in global publishing will help reaffirm our company’s dedication to developing and servicing the world’s best MMORPGs.”

“I have been seriously impressed with what Pearl Abyss has achieved ever since I first visited their website for Black Desert Online and subsequently became an avid player of the game,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, the CEO at CCP Games. “Pearl Abyss is a fast-growing company with lots to offer in terms of technology, capability and vision. I believe our two companies have a lot to learn from each other. We are very excited to join forces with them and achieve great new heights for our companies, our games and – above all - our players.”

Pearl Abyss has been riding high since the 2014 launch of Black Desert Online. It has overseen successful expansions of the game into markets outside of South Korea over the years and recently launched Black Desert Mobile in South Korea, pushing it into a record sales year. Of course, this is also helped by the recent launch of Black Desert Online Remastered, which gives a whole new level of shine to the aging MMO. 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!