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iambrooke_
Hello, my name is Allison (aliceclass on twitch) I have been a part of Extra Life since May 29, 2018. I play for Children's Hospital Colorado with a team called nerdology5280 and it has been amazing.
 
To answer the question: Why I Extra Life? We need to go back about 50 years to when my grandmother gave birth to my dad and my uncle (twins), they were born at five months and needed help.
 

 
Without their children’s hospital, I wouldn’t be here to help the community that gave me my father. More recently our children’s hospital has helped my sister when she had to have surgery to remove her tonsils when she was (I think) 10, me when I was a freshman in high school having to have an upper GI done, and my baby cousin who had a really bad asthma attack and needed to be admitted to help her breathing (she’s four).
 

 
I play so that I can help support the hospitals that have helped my family out so much an that have made my family healthier and living a better life. I am more recent into playing video games but the best games I love are the nostalgia games like Pac-Man, Pokémon stadium, Mario 64, and Mario Party.
 
This post was written by first-year Extra Lifer Allison Zolman playing for Children's Hospital Colorado. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Jack Gardner
We haven't heard much about the remaster of the PlayStation 1 since its announcement at PSX late last year. The title is expected to be a full, top-to-bottom revamp along the same lines as the Crash Bandicoots and Spyros that are all the rage these days, complete with new assets and up to 4K resolution support.
 
In a recent appearance on PlayStation Blogcast, Sid Shuman, Sony's social media director, revealed that the company expects the MediEvil remake to release "in the next week or so." This likely puts the game on track for release near Halloween, if not the day of everyone's favorite spooky holiday. Shuman also said that the head of worldwide studios at Sony,  Shawn Layden, would be making an announcement soon on the podcast, so we will likely be hearing more concrete details in the days to come. 
 
 
RIP easily, friends, it appears Sir Dan will be returning from the grave quite soon. 
 
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
If you're looking for something you might have missed in the horror game genre, one of the more obscure coming out for this Halloween takes the form of The Witch's House MV, a remake of an RPG Maker game originally released in 2012. The Witch's House follows in the footsteps of Japanese RPG horror RPGs that were more common back in the 16-bit days before Resident Evil reshaped the genre forever. Expect tons of creepy puzzles, unnerving dialogue, and a more freakish tone than one might expect from an retro indie pixel affair. 
 
The Witch's House tells the story of a young girl who awakens in the middle of a forest with no memories and finds herself drawn toward the titular house. Inside, she finds many insidious and deadly traps, strange denizens, and an engaging mystery that pulls players inexorably into the inky heart of the witch's abode. 
 
Developer Frummy, who returned with a small team to remake the original work, explained the effort that went into the remake, "I’m happy to announce that we’re finally ready to release the game. The Witch’s House MV is an RPG Maker MV remake of the original game, which was released back in 2012. We remade all the graphics, including map tiles and character sprites, and worked hard to enhance the atmosphere and 2D beauty in The Witch’s House. It took us five times as many hours to create this version, but we feel like we’ve finally managed to satisfy ourselves."
 
Those looking for more from the remake need not fear (or maybe they need fear extra?) - there's a new difficulty mode that promises to challenge even the most hardy of horror fanatics. Unlocked by reaching The Witch's House's true ending, players can go through the game again with challenges that all but assure a grueling and gruesome slog full of unexpected death and decay. Frummy also hinted that the new difficulty mode might unlock some new elements of the story for those who brave its challenges. 
 
The Witch's House MV releases October 31 for PC. 
 
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
Lucas Pope, the dev behind the highly acclaimed indie title Papers, Please, brings us Return of the Obra Dinn. Enter a high seas murder mystery set in the 1807 when everything was black and white and made of pixels. As an insurance inspector armed with a mystical assessment tool, players are dispatched to investigate the Obra Dinn, a ship believed to have been lost at sea for five years. What has the ship been doing in its years at sea? What happened to the ship's company? Why has the vessel just sailed back into the port at Falmouth, seemingly under its own power without any crew? 
 
To answer all of these questions and solve the mysteries of the Obra Dinn, players have a watch-like device that has the ability to replay the scenarios surrounding an individual's death. Players will have to make clever use of the device's abilities to access new areas of the ship and, as befits an insurance investigator, identify the remains of each member of the crew, how they died, and who, if anyone, killed them.
 
 
Almost four years ago, I gave my thoughts on a preview build of Return of the Obra Dinn. It wasn't a long build, but it left a lasting impression. The haunting visuals and beckoning mystery don't leave you easily. And now, Return of the Obra Dinn has silently sailed into the harbor of digital PC storefronts - check it out if you're looking for a gameplay experience like you've never had before.
 
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
With angry cultists hot on their heels, the gang finally catches up with Daria Stillhelm - and discover the significance of Festival Day.
 
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.
 

 
"Stormfront"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
 
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! 
 
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
I like big games. The potential for truly deep and moving experiences on unprecedented scales often inspires new levels of excited anticipation within my nerdy heart. They almost always fall short of their promised potential, but when marketing promises the moon, how often does one actually get the moon? The triple-A development world and its focus on ever bigger blockbuster games makes clear a problem that has long lingered underneath the dazzling graphical quality and sweeping vistas of the modern gaming industry: The soul-crushing grind of crunch time, the period during which a staggering number of developers push their workers as hard as possible to hit those all important deadlines. 
 
It can be easy to shrug off the vocal complaints of employees, both current and former, who speak up about the working conditions they endured while pursuing the dream of making big and interesting games. They're even easier to ignore if the developer whose workforce complains about its labor practices makes games that people love. Once the game boots up, it can be hard to remember that the spouses of those working on the original Red Dead Redemption had to start a campaign of public shaming because they weren't seeing their partners for prolonged periods of time due to mandatory 60-hour work weeks.
 
An outpouring of criticism occurred recently toward Rockstar Games after one of the studio's co-founders, Dan Houser, proudly declared to New York Magazine that they had been working 100-hour weeks on Red Dead Redemption 2, a claim that was quickly downplayed by a PR clarification that the quote really only referred to the four person writing team that included the Houser. Even if we take the clarification at face value, something I'd argue a reasonable person should view with skepticism given the investment Houser has in the company he helped to create, the conversation about labor and crunch time should still happen. 
 

 
So, let's talk a little bit about labor in the game industry. And to do that, we need to dive into the history of labor practices in the United States. 
 
In 1866, workers in the newly formed National Labor Union began lobbying Congress to enact an eight-hour work day as the standard. Of course, the attempt failed to gain political traction, but the eight-hour work day did become the goal most labor movements pushed for from that point on. People began petitioning state and local governments to limit the number of hours employers could legally force them to work. This eventually led to Illinois mandating an eight-hour workday. Employers hated the law so much that they refused to abide by it, resulting in a workers strike, the Haymarket Affair that crippled the city of Chicago. The strike became what we now know as International Workers' Day, an event that commemorated the large-scale strike to assert labor rights. 
 
Every year following the Chicago protests, strikes were organized across the country to push for additional protections and an eight-hour workday, making small gains here and there. Some unions won the right to ten-hour workdays while others demonstrated for workplace safety, especially following the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that left nearly 150 workers dead due to the poor construction of exits in the factory. While federal employees would eventually receive the eight-hour workday, the private sector's support for such a plan often took the form of outright hostility.
 
What really turned the tide and standardized the eight-hour workday across many private companies was the Ford Motor Company's adoption of the five-day, 40-hour work week in 1926. Though not the first company to do so, FMC and its assembly line production helped shape overall factory culture.(Fun fact: It's popularly believed that Henry Ford moved to this schedule and payed workers a high wage as part of a brilliant way of selling more cars to the very workers producing them. This belief built up the mythos of the American Dream. However, Ford was pushed to the schedule and associated pay raise not by a brilliant, forward-looking business plan, but by the fact that he couldn't retain workers for the production lines at the wages and work week he wanted. The work was so dull and paid so little that in 1913, Ford hired 52,000 workers to maintain a workforce of 14,000.) The decision to make eight-hour work days the standard for factory workers became what many to this day see as a full-time occupation. That was solidified into law in 1940 with the Fair Labor Standards Act amendment which stipulates that employers are required to pay overtime for time worked over 40 hours per week. 
 
That law and the long fight leading to it was (and still is) largely despised by many companies across the United States. However, in the years since its conception many of the higher-ups in those companies devised ways around the law. The most effective way to circumvent the law is by making a 40+ hour week optional, at least on paper. The common way of doing this is by selling the dream that working more than the designated 40 hours serves as a way for the worker to distinguish themselves on the job. Such an outstanding worker would surely be promoted and advance in the company while those working their mandated time would seem slothful despite working their full-time job. This creates a race where everyone tries to stand out and doesn't want to look bad. It's also a huge win for the company because any time criticism comes its way, the representatives can turn around with a shrug and point out that, at least on paper, working more than full-time is completely optional. 
 
For companies that embrace this work ethic, a culture emerges that holds up those hard-working employees as examples to the rest of the workers. This can lead to those deemed "too lazy" for working their full 40 hours to be labelled as the kinds of people who aren't team players. Their coworkers begin ostracizing them for slowing down projects that are already moving faster due to many people putting in overtime. And so, the social pressure to conform to an ever longer work week escalates, sometimes to the point that employees are let go for not being a good fit for the company's culture because they work their required time.
 
At an individual level, the pressure to advance in a career and earn money will always be a strong one under capitalism. Compounding that with the social pressure of wanting to fit in and help the rest of the team achieve a collective goal makes it even harder to realistically stick to what is generally considered to be a full-time job. Many people slowly erode over time and find themselves giving more and more of their lives to the workplace, especially if that workplace benefits from their enthusiasm. 
 

 
In the video game world, many developers go through periods of crunch where an average work week ranges from 60-80 hours. These periods vary from developer to developer, but a staggering number of companies enter into crunch to meet deadlines and release dates. Sometimes crunch can last months or even over a year. It happens so often that it has just become a given in recent years that crunching before the release of a game is just the way things are.
 
Game devs could stick to 40-hour work weeks and still finish large, impressive, triple-A games, but it might take them a bit longer without pressuring employees to work more than full-time. The reason that becomes a problem from a business perspective isn't that it couldn't be done or that fans couldn't wait - I mean, look at games like The Last Guardian taking so long to come out people thought it was dead - it's because the people who have invested in game development want to get the quickest return on their investment. For example, if you invested $100 million into an Assassin's Creed game, you would rather get that back with profit in two years instead of two and a half years, especially if you as an investor exist largely removed from the creation process of the game. 
 
And those long hours? Those are destructive to the developers themselves. Research has suggested that working more than 50 hours per week results in a decline in productivity and more than 55 hours per week results in almost no increased productivity. A Stanford study found that, on average, someone who puts in 70 hours accomplishes remarkably little, even with the 15 additional work hours, than the person who works a 55-hour week. And that's just productivity.
 
Workers often find health issues exacerbated by working over 40 hours per week. These include increased likelihood of cardiovascular problems, relationship woes with friends and loved ones, substance abuse, depression, injury, and hormonal imbalance. One could make a compelling argument that pushing workers to put in those longer hours just so that an investment returns a few months faster is killing the people who make some of our most beloved video games.  
 

 
Normally, I'd like to end on a cheerier note about how, if we all work together, we can change the way the video game business works and eliminate crunch time so that our games are made more ethically. Unfortunately in this case, most of the power rests in the hands of publishers and developers. Video game workers could unionize, of course, and exert pressure on their employers to limit hours and impose standard practices across the industry, much like how the voice actors worked together to secure better deals following a strike against various video game companies who initially refused their terms. This idea only just seems to be gaining traction with organizations like Game Workers Unite advocating for unionization in the game industry, though whether or not workers in the game industry will actually unionize remains an open question.
 
It's also possible that those in positions of power in the game industry could look at the studies and conclude that putting employees through crunch ultimately leads to a worse product, though those studies are a couple years old at this point and not much has been done to combat crunch. It's also possible that Congress could step in to pass a law that better regulates the industry, but considering the political situation of the United States at the moment, it's unlikely that regulation of video game developer's working hours will be a high enough priority to gain any traction. 
 
A boycott could weigh the scales a bit in worker's favor. However, it seems unlikely that gamers as a whole would effectively boycott all the companies that contribute to making crunch a common occurrence in the game industry. Despite that, the potentially harmful practices companies implement in order to increase profits will always be something worth discussing.  
 
Maybe talking about it, making it a point of public discussion, and raising awareness will help, little by little, to make this industry one where the people who make our games aren't crushed just to make the art we love so much. 
       
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!

iambrooke_
Two pictures. 2009 and 2015, 2009 Bailey Grace Ehasz spent 11 days at CHOP ICU after being hit by a truck suffering broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. Followed by six months rehab at the Seashore house at CHOP. The doctors told us to expect our daughter would never communicate again.
 

 
2015 Bailey graduating high school. Presidential award for academic achievement.
 

 
I have supported CMN Hospitals since my time at CHOP with my daughter and some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Parents and kids facing unimaginable odds while dealing with tragedy and triumph. My family is filled with long-time gamers and I have dabbled in streaming for a few years.
 
In 2017 I noticed a twitch campaign that matched donated bits using the tag #charity to an organization called Extra Life. Once I found out what it was I signed up immediately. This is my second year with Extra Life. I joined the Philadelphia guild this year. Once again, I found myself meeting some of the most amazing people all with one thing in common. A deeply personal connection to CMN Hospitals. And we are gamers which is a single united shared activity. We play, and playing is the core of childhood
 
Mark Ehasz, and this is my story why I extra life. And P.S. Bailey is currently in her 3rd year of college working on an early education major. She wants to be a teacher.
 
This post was written by second-year Extra Lifer Mark Ehasz playing for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

iambrooke_
This is my brother. His name is David. He may get on my nerves, I may want to smack him upside the head, but, he is family. He's family and I love him, faults and all. You may have seen my charity drives for #ExtraLife, donations to Child's Play, and stuff like that. I do this fundraising because of him.   Back in 2008, David was in a nasty car crash. He swerved to avoid a deer, hit a tree, whacked his head on the steering wheel. It was one of those nights no parent ever wants to experience. My mom still gets flashbacks whenever NBC reruns that night's SNL episode. She called my brother, who was on his way home from a party with some friends.   He was supposed to be home by 10:30, but he never showed. My mom called him at 10:45, no answer. She called again at 11:00, no answer. Finally, she gets a call on her cell phone at 11:45 from the Minnesota Highway Patrol, telling her that her son is in the hospital and in a medically induced coma to keep him stabilized and reduce the swelling.   David suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) caused by the whiplash of hitting his head on the steering wheel and then on the back of the headrest. He missed his Junior Prom, spending it instead in the hospital. Some of his classmates came to visit, taking time from their night to come see him. You know those Subaru commercials with the wrecked car? The ones where everyone looks at the wreck, someone says, "he lived," and they all look on in surprise and amaze? Yeah, it turns out there's an ounce of truth to those stories. This was his car after the crash. My mom still has trouble looking at this picture. So does David, for that matter. After he was brought out from his coma, he had to re-learn EVERYTHING. He had to learn how to walk, talk, eat, get dressed, everything. My mom, bless her soul, was by his side the entire time. She also finished the canine good citizen exam with Jack, pictured above and on the right in the first picture, and was able to register him as a therapy dog so he could come to visit David. Actually, this was instrumental in his recovery. You see, Jack has always had the nickname, "puppy." Even now, he's 11 years old and we still call him that. David eventually distorted it into "poopy" for reasons that we will never know.   When David first saw Jack, he moved his mouth into a round shape and tried to force some sound out. Mom looked at him and asked, "are you trying to say 'poopy?'" And David grinned from ear to ear. That moment, that moment right there? That's when we knew he was going to be alright. He recognized Jack and knew who he was. Which is a lot more than most people with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can boast. Remember what I said about having to relearn everything? I meant it. Things we take for granted, like opening a jug of milk or holding a hand of cards were difficult if not impossible for him after his injury. He spent, oh, something like two or three months at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare that same year. It was tough, but he persevered.   As time progressed, his dexterity improved. He was able to do more on his own. I brought one of my spare PS2s (what can I say? I'm a collector) and Guitar Hero 2 so he'd have something to do in his spare time. Turns out this was also really good for the Occupational Therapy (OT) that he was doing, so we were able to double-dip a bit!   This story has a happy ending. Even with his TBI, David still managed to graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA. He then went on to college, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He traveled to Thailand, twice, with his church to teach English over there. He might not fully realize his dreams now, but you know what? He's overcome a lot to get where he is. He is the definition of a miracle if there ever was one. I owe a significant debt to Hennepin County Medical Center and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. They literally saved his life.   I try and raise money as often as I can, in as many ways as I can. And this, my fellow Extra Lifers, is why I do what I do. I encourage you to share this story with the people around you. And if you can donate, even if it's $5, you can help save a kid's life. Every little bit helps. Know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that yes, it does get better. David overcame the challenges, you can too.   This post was written by fourth-year Extra Lifer Ryan Juel playing for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. You can learn more about Extra Life at extra-life.org. 

Jack Gardner
In case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Bowsette is all the rage. Following an announcement from Nintendo in early September that depicted a Toadette donning a pink "super crown" and transforming into Peachette, internet comic artist Haniwa posted a fateful strip. The comic showed both Bowser and Mario facing rejection at the hands of Peach before Bowser puts on the crown and appears to become Mario's girlfriend in the final panel. Since then, the internet seems to have gone crazy for the new character.
 
Despite the craze, which has been attributed by a bump in the stock value of Nintendo, the makers of Mario don't have much to say about the character as of yet. However, modders have now taken up the cause of bringing Bowsette into the wild world of video games. YouTuber and modder Lynard Killer, whose previous work includes modding Linkle into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, uploaded a video of Bowsette running around in the open world Legend of Zelda game. Her now iconic black dress blows somewhat realistically in the wind and reacts to different stance changes and environments. Much like Link in the unmodded game, Bowsette can also strip down to her underwear - because it is the internet and of course she can.
 
 
Overall, this is a pretty neat mod, though it's unclear if others can download it yet. 
 
Oh, and modders? Put Bowsette into Mario Odyssey because that would be freaking rad. 
 
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
A PC adaptation of a Wii on-rails shooter that shifted the shooting mechanic into a typing mechanic in homage to a surreal 90s Dreamcast title doesn't sound like something that would turn out well. However, Typing of the Dead: Overkill inexplicably works. The quirky game asks players to improve their typing skills while also playing through a grindhouse schlock-fest of gore and f-bombs.
 
Despite the educational nature of its mechanics, kids should definitely not play Typing of the Dead: Overkill. We can't stress that enough. But adults? You make your own choices and decide whether this C-tier romp through zombies and low-budget film cliches might just secretly be one of the best games of all-time. 
 
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: Undertale 'Gaster's Legacy' by DS (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03761)
 
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
Star Citizen has been in development for the past six years following a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign. The game has been envisioned and pitched as a spiritual successor to the Wing Commander series with modern sensibilities and a massively multiplayer galaxy. Though Star Citizen has received most of the media attention, the original Kickstarter was also for a single-player campaign set within the Star Citizen universe. That single player campaign was originally slated for release in 2014.
 
However, one thing that neither Cloud Imperium Games nor the fans who backed Star Citizen could have planned on was the massive and ongoing crowdfunding that has gone on since the initial success of the Kickstarter. To date, the company has raised well over $150 million from players who have fallen in love with the dream of what Star Citizen could be. With all of that extra money, the scope of both Star Citizen and Squadron 42 has expanded. 
 
The new single-player game will have considerable star power, like Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, John Rhys-Davies, Mark Strong, Andy Serkis, and more high profile actors and actresses. The acting chops going into Squadron 42 is pretty astounding, even by blockbuster gaming standards. We get to see snippets of that throughout the trailer as Cloud Imperium also shows off their impressive game tech, interesting sci-fi universe, and proves that Squadron 42 still exists and will eventually release. 
 
So it is that four years after the projected release date of Squadron 42 we are just now seeing an extended trailer full of gameplay and story (but still no release date).
 
 
Overall, the trailer is incredibly impressive and looks to be the next hard sci-fi experience on the horizon with a chip on its shoulder to tell a compelling narrative. Add on deep and engaging space combat, and you have a great recipe for something really special. 
 
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
Frictional Games, the developers behind Penumbra and Soma, have released a free update for their most famous title to date. Amnesia: The Dark Descent revolutionized horror with its physics-based gameplay and use of tension to make it feel like an ominous presence constantly pursues the player as they progress through a haunted castle. It was so successful that the classic first-person horror game changed the way games handled horror for years.
 
The update adds a hard mode to the game for veterans looking for a new experience while replaying their dark descent. The hard mode disables autosaves, but don't worry! Players can still save - in exchange for four tinderboxes, the items that allow players to light the very important torches that illuminate the environment and restore sanity. In hard mode, dropping to zero sanity will kill the player. There will also be fewer tinderboxes and oil refills. Monsters will be faster, more alert, stronger, and more persistent when it comes time for them to hunt. And those hunts? They'll be more dangerous than ever with the removal of music cues announcing their presence....
 
If you're planning on conquering that hard mode, good luck. 
 
Since its initial announcement last week for traditional PCs and Xbox One, the update has been slowly extended across other platforms like Mac and Linux. Currently, Frictional has partnered with Blit Works to bring the mode to PlayStation 4 in the near future.
 
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!

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