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Jack Gardner
Extra Life has always been about helping kids through gaming. Many people support their local children's hospitals by playing and streaming video games, but a not insignificant portion of the Extra Life community does the same with tabletop gaming. Tabletop Appreciation Weekend exists to celebrate the people who take up pen and paper, miniatures and dice, cards and tokens to raise money for the kids. We here at Extra Life endorse and encourage all gaming, whatever form that might take.
 
To that end, Tabletop Appreciation Weekend approaches! This marks the third year Extra Life has set aside a weekend in August for our tabletop gamers to gather and play their favorite games to support the Children's Miracle Network Hospital of their choice. This year, Tabletop Appreciation Weekend will take place August 24-25. Tabletop Appreciation Weekend serves as a reminder that Extra Life is driven by you. However you play, you can use that to fundraise and make a difference in the lives of children in your community.
 
Magic the Gathering? Dungeons & Dragons? Risk? Whatever you enjoy playing with your friends and family can be both fun and help those in need. The event also serves as a springboard to get people thinking about Game Day, which is coming up on November 2. Consider Tabletop Appreciation Weekend your chance to experiment with things before our main event. See what works and what doesn’t before jumping in for the long haul gaming marathon.
 

 
Last year, we put out a flurry of content on the community site like an interview with an indie board game developer, a primer on how to get into tabletop role-playing, and even a humorous take on how to set up a game night with Monopoly. Heck, we even put out a liveplay podcast series, Dragonguard, which will conclude during this year’s weekend. We’ll be doing something similar this year as we ramp up to Tabletop Appreciation Weekend.
 
We plan to be rolling out features spotlighting members of our amazing tabletop community as we near the upcoming weekend. On top of that, we have a number of fantastic partners in the tabletop gaming space that we will be working with to put some intriguing things together. We’re really excited, and we hope you will be, too.  
 
Expect to hear more about Tabletop Appreciation Weekend as we go through July and in the lead up to August 24. You can learn more about it on our dedicated landing page, which includes some tabletop-specific streaming overlays if you happen to be interested in broadcasting your role-playing, board gaming, or rules-wrangling.
 
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
Supergiant Games' Pyre released in 2017. It presented a bold and exciting new world created by the people behind the brilliant Transistor and indie darling Bastion. The title offered conflict filtered through the lens of sport mixed with religious undertones, the theme of loss, and a fantastical imagining of purgatory, where the unworthy vie for the chance to return to the "real" world, the Commonwealth, as reformed champions. While a fantastic title, we might never get the chance to talk about it on the main show, so here's a shorter (not by much) monologue about how great it is and what might have kept it from achieving the same popularity of the studios' first two titles.
 
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: Escape from Monkey Island 'Rum Barrel' by Yffisch (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03921)
 
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
 
One of the common misconceptions about Extra Life is that someone can only participate if they play video games. Not true! Extra Life supports and encourages all kinds of play. To that end, we have been supporting Tabletop Appreciation Weekend for the past few years. This year, the event takes place August 24-25th and will be a time for players to gather together and play board games for the kids. Learn more about Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend and be sure to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Marcus Stewart
I don’t own a virtual reality headset and have little familiarity with the Sniper Elite series but Sniper Elite VR made me consider diving into both. The upcoming game, a collaboration between developers Rebellion and Just Add Water, uses the immersion of VR to enhance the already tense thrill of sharpshooting. 
 
This reinvention on the popular series is a standalone entry set in World War 2 era Sicily. Nazi forces, specifically German U-boats, occupy the Italian city. Players join up with the local resistance force to help drive them out. Story specifics are scarce, but author Tony Schumacher, known for his John Rosset series of war novels, lends his writing chops to the campaign. Rebellion boasts the adventure will take players across a variety of locales, from wartorn villages to airfields and bunkers. 
 
I spent a brief time with Sniper Elite VR at E3 where it had been officially unveiled. Rebellion had the game set up for PlayStation VR, though it’s also compatible with Oculus Rift and available through SteamVR and Viveport. On Sony’s headset, players can control the game using either PlayStation Move, PlayStation Aim, or the DualShock 4. The Aim became my weapon of choice;  it’s gun-shaped form lends to the most authentic sniper experience. 
 

 
The demo began by dropping onto the rooftop of village warzone. Shots whizzed perilously towards by my head from an enemy on the ground which forced me to quickly grab a weapon to retaliate. As I brought the the Aim controller to up my eye the view transitioned into a sniper scope for realistic aiming. It’s an awesome mechanic that effectively sold the idea that I was holding an actual sniper rifle. 
 
I took the shot which then entered into Sniper Elite’s famous slow-motion x-ray kill cam, which has been rebuilt from scratch to suit VR. The bullet tore through his sternum, graphically displaying every shattered bone and ruptured organ as it exited his body. I dashed across makeshift bridges to other rooftops and took down foes hunkered in adjacent buildings and on the street. At one point a tank entered the fray and unleashed a barrage of cannonfire. The explosions looked and sounded great. The well-tuned controls impressed; I never had an issue with performing an action. Popping in and out of cover, physically dodging incoming fire, then peering into the scope and nailing a clean headshot felt unexpectedly thrilling. 
 
Movement and camera control can either be the standard smooth transition like in regular shooters or the staple VR teleport. I opted for the former and used the sticks to run and look around as normal. Though functional and familiar, that smoothness came at a price: a mild spell of motion sickness that forced me to wrap things up sooner than expected. 
 
 
Still, as I hobbled out of the demo room, I walked away pleased with what I played. Rebellion has done a lot of work to make VR a natural fit for Sniper Elite and it should be a unique treat for fans. Unfortunately, the game has no release window as of yet. We’ll have to wait and see when we can engage in this brutal and immersive fight for liberation. 
 
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

Marcus Stewart
Jetpacks sit high among the list of awesome contraptions many of us will likely never use. Fortunately, Ascend is a virtual reality title that simulates that experience while adding a competitive wrinkle. Team Newspaper Hats’ upcoming game pits competing headset users against each other in clashes that combine aerial dogfights with Capture the Flag-style gameplay. At E3 2019, I strapped inside of an Oculus Rift to take to the skies in, quite literally, high-stakes combat. 
 
Ascend takes place on an abandoned, dystopian world where its remaining warriors engage in aerial contests in the name of glory. The demo features two characters: Mufid the Inventor and Gloriana the Highborne. The former wields plasma blasters while the latter uses twin holoswords. Ascend’s multiplayer supports up to three players so I imagine at last one more warrior will be added in the future. Since I have more experience using guns in VR than melee weapons, I opt for Mufid. 
 
The free-for-all mode Fracture stands as the centerpiece of Ascend. This contest tasks players with collecting objectives and then delivering them to the top of a tower at the map’s center. The first person to deliver them all wins. Objectives are represented by glowing orbs scattered across the area. Since VR still hasn’t been widely adopted, a multiplayer game runs the high risk of having a shallow user pool. Thankfully, Ascend supports cross-play across its three platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows MR. This should hopefully help bolster the player count. 
 

 
Flight is executed by Ascend’s Lean Motion System. Leaning your head forward allows players to soar in that direction. Designated buttons on the Oculus Touch controllers operate upward and downward propulsion. While it does emulate the sensation of a using a jetpack, I also couldn’t help but feel like I was piloting Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. As I load into the tutorial area  the somewhat sensitive head-tracking takes adjusting. I repeatedly wiz headfirst into walls (the virtual kind, thankfully) until I figure out the right degree to lean in for smooth flight. Once I do, I’m able to zip around the world with relative ease and it feels great. Best and most importantly of all, I don’t feel a hint of motion sickness. 
 
Fracture begins and I immediately notice the in-game markers indicating the general locations of the objectives. I spot the first orb, collect it, and then race upwards towards the top of the tower. Just when I figure out how to correctly stick the landing in this zone, my opponent and demo partner discovers and eradicates me. If nothing else, the setback reminds me of my own offensive arsenal.
 
In addition to shooting lasers Mufid has a neat special ability. Holding the controllers sideways charges her Bullet Hell technique. Upon release Mufid fires a spherical barrier that traps and ricochets any bullet fired inside of it. This is great for capturing foes and then tearing them to shreds with a single shot. After respawning I locate my opponent, now clutching an orb, racing to the tower. I see this as a great chance to try my special move. Miraculously, I catch her inside of the sphere on my first attempt and watch in glee as my follow up shot annihilates my adversary. 
 
 
I collect the now free orb, fly up to the tower unimpeded, and, after waiting for a timer to deplete, score the first point. I have my bearings by this point so I proceed to go on the offensive, relentlessly chasing and blasting my opponent before they can locate the last two objectives. Shooting feels good and it’s genuinely thrilling to take someone down. My aggressive strategy pays off; I capture the remaining two orbs with relative ease, giving me the 3-0 victory.
 
Ascend plays well and definitely has its thrills, but I worry about its longevity. Fracture seems to be the only mode it has going for it thus far, and playing the same thing will eventually get old. Hopefully some more destinations will make their way into the game. But if jetpacks + sports + combat sounds like a winning formula, look for Ascend to launch on PC this summer. 
 
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
Drawn in by some discrete and dubious markings on the side of a local inn, the party enters an inn and becomes acquainted with a reckless thief with a bold plan. The enigmatic rogue possesses grand ambitions that might somewhat align with the group's mission to save their captured companions. Pribi begins concocting a scheme to unleash chaos upon the city of South Gate and distract the guards during their upcoming infiltration.
 
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. If you've never listened to the show before, here's a handy playlist to get you caught up.
 

 
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! 
 
New episodes of We Wanted Adventurers will be released every Wednesday
 
One of the common misconceptions about Extra Life is that someone can only participate if they play video games. Not true! Extra Life supports and encourages all kinds of play. To that end, we have been supporting Tabletop Appreciation Weekend for the past few years. This year, the event takes place August 24-25th and will be a time for players to gather together and play board games for the kids. If that sounds intriguing, learn more about Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend and be sure to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Across the United States, today represents for many a time during which people celebrate unity and freedom. The 4th of July commemorates the United States' independence from Great Britain. For many across the US, the day presents an opportunity for celebration and relaxation (or a futile attempt to comfort pets scared of fireworks). With celebration inevitably comes games - so what gaming activities are ideal for the holiday?
 
Four seems like an apt number given the day, so here are the best games to play during the 4th of July festivities. 
 
4. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
 
 
Look, nothing brings people together quite like the prospect of the Soviet Union invading the United States. The classic real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 does just that in an alternate timeline where dirigibles soar the skies and science can produce magic-like effects. The Soviet forces come equipped with destructive blimps that darken the skies, destructive missiles, and terrifying, mind-controlling powers. The Americans, however, learn how to harness the power of nature, deploy elite jet pack commandos, and even manipulate time itself. 
 
While the subject matter might seem serious, the live-action cutscenes that propel the story forward stand out as a real joy. Immediately recognizable television actors take on pivotal roles like Ray Wise as President Michael Dugan, Udo Kier as the conniving and unnerving Yuri, and Barry Corbin the gruff and boisterous General Ben Carville.     
 
It has all the charm of a B-movie mixed with some of the best RTS gameplay Westwood ever produced in their time creating strategy titles. There are few better ways to spend the 4th of July than by kicking back, relaxing, and fending off evil, mind-controlling blimps. 
 
3. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
 
 
The Metal Gear Solid series has always been fascinated with the United States, featuring senators, special agents, and secret super-weapons. All of that comes to a head in the best of the series, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The game serves as a prequel, putting players into the role of series antagonist Big Boss before he earned that name. Snake Eater stars Big Boss, then known as Naked Snake, tracking down his mentor and thwarting her plans which include unleashing a mobile nuclear weapon to kick start World War 3.  
 
Metal Gear Solid 3 features an incredible amount of intrigue, espionage, and morally ambiguous decisions. It works as a reminder that the path to war is full of difficult decisions where on side is rarely 100% in the right. It's the perfect game to play on a day like today, inviting healthy skepticism while also celebrating the tenacity and ability of American soldiers. Plus, if you are feeling the need to make it as patriotic as possible, the game gives players the ability to paint Snake's face with an American flag. Metal Gear Solid is extra like that. 
 
You also get to experience the longest and most memorable ladder climbing sequence in video game history. It's glorious. It has nothing to do with the 4th of July, but it's glorious nonetheless. 
 
2. Liberty or Death
 
 
Liberty or Death is one of those rare games from the 90s that holds up remarkably well. Released for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and MS-DOS, the game tasks players to engage in the strategy and history of The Revolutionary War. Praised for its historical accuracy and educational merit, the game puts players either in the boots of commanders in either side of the conflict. The goal of both the British and the Americans are to be the last force with troops in the thirteen colonies. Choosing the British means players will have to move fast to capitalize on their starting advantage while the Americans will need to build up their forces and strike wisely in order to prevail.
 
Behind all of this turn-based strategy ticks a remarkably deep relationship system connecting the armies to both the local population. Depending on external factors and how well the player has maneuvered their armies, the political situation evolves along with the war. More approval translates into more money to spend on armies, which automatically makes it one of the most important aspects to keep an eye on. However, if civilian approval drops too low, the citizenry might demand the player step down as commander-in-chief, resulting in a game over. 
 
Liberty or Death was designed to provide an incredibly deep experience that many in 1994 weren't ready to experience, with full playthroughs of one game taking sometimes over 100 hours. However, that length isn't seen as a daunting prospect in today's gaming climate. On top of that, it supports a two-player mode, so you can grab a friend and have a great time trying to outmaneuver one another in the name of freedom while learning a bit of history.  
 
1. Cornhole
 

 
The game of kings and commoners alike, Cornhole's origins have been attributed to 1300s Germany by some historians, though other sources trace the creation of the game to Cincinnati, the Kentucky foothills, and the Blackhawk tribe of Native Americans located in the Illinois area. However it entered the world, Cornhole has become an incredibly popular recreational sport across the United States.
 
The game itself is incredibly simple. Players take turns throwing bags filled with corn toward a rectangular platform with a hole carved into the far end. Bags that go through the hole are worth three points, while those that land on the platform, but do not go into the hole are worth one point. The first player or team to reach 21 points takes home victory.
 
The laid back nature of the game provides plenty of time to talk, making it a great game for those causally catching up on life. Of course, things can get a bit competitive, but the inherently silly and non-confrontational nature of the game prevents things from becoming overly physical. Due to the downtime afforded between turns, players are free to mingle with other celebrants while getting some cool beverages in the summer heat. That element has made the game a great hit at bars and family-oriented community events across the country. 
 
What games would your recommend for the 4th of July?
 
 
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!

Marcus Stewart
Infinite Children might be the strangest thing I’ve experienced in recent memory. This bizarre narrative adventure game tasks players with extending the life of Theo, an 8-year old child, with the assistance of a futuristic pharmaceutical company. The path to that goal involves talking space dragons, floating castles, abstract voids, among other oddities. Perhaps the only aspect weirder is Infinite Children’s unorthodox release; a launch I unexpectedly played a pivotal role in. 
 
The game, described as a science fiction audiobook, is the brainchild of designer Peter Brinson. While attempting to increase Theo’s life span, players go through a series of first-person narrative puzzles segments. Describing these levels as “dreamlike” feels like an understatement. You’ll travel down theater aisles floating in space, occupied by robe-wearing dragons making snarky comments. Other times you fly through cosmic tunnels filled with drifting doors and energy beams.  Some segments are on-rails, others are controlled directly. Regardless, Infinite Children almost feels hallucinogenic in its trippiness. 
 

 
Though actions largely involve simply moving forward and looking around, determining what actually needs to be done to progress isn’t always clear. Some segments are straightforward such as leading an avatar of Theo down a straight path to a castle. Conversely, I traveled a spiral pathway littered with lock symbols that I wasn’t sure if I should collect or avoid. I didn’t know how I made most of my progress and usually shrugged and thought “sure, I guess” whenever the story advanced in a manner that felt correct. 
 
As the game progress Theo’s life quickly balloons to the point of being hundreds of years old. Audio recordings of an adult Theo, as well has his future daughter Mia, paint the multi-generational narrative with out-of-context anecdotes. Far as I can tell the story deals with Theo having to reconcile with possessing a youthful body and unnaturally long life span. Mia, meanwhile, discusses her strange upbringing, such as having a father who looks as young as her despite being many times older. I’m admittedly not the greatest at interpreting abstract storytelling, but I suspect a fascinating, perhaps somewhat contrived, tale lies underneath the copious layers of weird. 
 

 
Like Theo, Infinite Children as a whole spent most of its existence in a state of constant growth. Until recently it had a unique (and very meta) mechanic where the game’s overall length increased as players earned achievements. When Infinite Children first entered Steam in early May it lasted only a few minutes. Thanks to all of its players it clocked in over a half an hour by E3. This also meant that the story was unfinished; the longer the game got, the more the narrative revealed itself. Infinite Children needed 20,000 achievements to unlock the full game to the world. That’s where I came in. 
 
Before I began Infinite Children, Brinson informed me that the game was on the cusp of earning the final achievements necessary to unlock the full experience. Specifically, that I could be the one to do it. Though a cool feat, it wasn’t a goal I made a point to aim for. Sure enough, though, by the time I wrapped up my demo an elated Brinson informed me I earned the required achievements. Because of me, the world could now play Infinite Children in its entirety. Brinson commemorated the big milestone with a photo (posted below), providing the final, surreal cherry on top of an already wacky experience. 
 

 
Infinite Children is one strange bird. I’m not sure if I necessarily had fun with it more so than I felt  perplexed and intrigued with everything I was witnessing. It felt like riding the world’s most confusing amusement park attraction.The design and storytelling feels hit and miss, and I wish certain spots had more clarity, but I definitely respect the experimentation. Plus, I can now say that I more or less helped launch a video game during E3. Anyone interested in giving Infinite Children a shot should be happy to know that the game is available for free on Steam. What it doesn’t ask for in price it demands in understanding, patience, and an open mind. 
 
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
Back in August of 2018, I put together a short campaign with Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition called Dragonguard as a part of Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. For Game Day 2018, we released a second set of episodes and followed it up with a third, fourth, and fifth set continuing the adventure. The previous series of episodes set the stage for a catastrophic finale, so join us once more as we take the final steps toward the end. Dragonguard will conclude during this year's Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend which runs August 24-25!
 
 Join Naomi Lugo (Nomsooni the druid), Marcus Stewart (Scratch Mangy the ranger), and Kyle Gaddo (Barphus the bard) as they don the armor of the illustrious Dragonguard, sworn to defend and protect the realm of Alterra from the dragons at its doorstep. Jack Gardner serves as the Dungeon Master, guiding our heroes through their journey.
 
Dispatched to the small town of Verne, the party began investigating rumors of draconic activity in the area. Learning of a kobold encampment deep within the Morrithil Wastes, they made their way into the vast swampland only to find a largely abandoned village built in the shadow of an ominous dragon skeleton. Encountering a number of old and infirm kobolds in the heart of the town, our heroes learned of an impending attack led by the vengeful dragon, Fallowfell. In an effort to convince Sir Rothurt, Verne's leader, to take the threat seriously, the party made an attempt to rescue his recently kidnapped son, Charles. Risking life and limb, they were able to save Charles only to be met with the awful revelation that Fallowfell had allies in the town itself. Now, Nomsooni, Barphus, and Scratch attempt to consolidate their power in the areas outside of Verne only to find themselves in ever-deepening danger from draconic evils, cunning opportunists, mystical threats, and (of course) themselves. The danger only increases when the party consult the wise oracle they had rescued from the dragon's forces, uncovering its secret identity and perhaps a means of thwarting its plans. Armed with pieces of Fallowfell's own treasure horde, the party hopes they can match the creature in might and cunning - or perhaps another force in the world has other plans?  
 
If you want to get a sense of how great a time tabletop roleplaying can be, you're invited to enjoy the adventure along with us. Here's to the amazing things the gaming community accomplished in 2018 and to the even greater things we will all do together in the years to come! You can listen to the new episodes below or start at the beginning with this handy SoundCloud playlist. 
 

 
"Furious Freak" "Outfoxing the Fox"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
 

 
"Aftermath" "Furious Freak" "Hiding Your Reality" "Super Power Cool Dude"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
 
The cut discussion from the middle of Episode 20 has been published in Episode 20.5 - The Time Bubble
 

 
Intro and Outro music:
 
"Furious Freak"
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. A YouTube version is available as well.
 
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!

Marcus Stewart
El Hijo quietly stood out during the PC Gamer Show for its attractive spaghetti western look and pacifist approach to stealth. Honig Studios’ upcoming title stars a six-year old boy whose mother leaves him at a monastery after bandits burned down their farm. However, the monks running his new home aren’t as altruistic as they appear. Upon discovering the truth the Boy launches a swift escape from his new home on a mission to find his mother. During E3, I got to try my hand at the game’s first five missions and walked away eager to see more. 
 
El Hijo is a top-down stealth game that eschews violence in favor of puzzle-solving and sneaking finesse. I evaded foes by hiding behind objects such as tables, slipped behind curtains, and climbed inside of pots. These tricks fooled most enemies, but I did come across more diligent foes that regularly searched these hiding spots. Lighting plays a big role as enemies can’t see the boy if he’s lurking in the shadows (unless they’re very close, of course). You can also manipulate enemy behavior by tossing rocks to cause a helpful distraction. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans but they work well. I did encounter some inventive solutions. At one point I tossed peppers into a simmering pot of stew. When a hungry monk took a sip, he went bailing for the nearest toilet and out of my way. 
 

 
Avoiding isolated monks shouldn’t be difficult for experienced stealth players. Things get hairier when two or more patrol together. Getting detected usually leads to capture since enemies run faster than the boy. The monks even pursued me down ladders and stairs when I assumed they’d give up and return to their assigned route. Trying to hide while discovered doesn’t work well either. El Hijo may seem like a relative breeze but failure can come swiftly, and I hit a couple of challenging roadblocks. 
 
One particularly tight area covered by three monks took multiple attempts before I figured out a viable path forward. All of my failures stemmed from my own sloppiness rather than poor design. On the technical side, I occasionally ran into a collision glitch where enemies grabbed me despite being well out of reach. Hopefully this issue can chalked up to being preview build hiccups that will be ironed out in the final release. 
 
 
The game’s 30 levels extend well beyond the starting monastery. I didn’t get to see it, but players will eventually explore the desert and make their way into a crime-infested town. El Hijo’s warm color palette and beautiful art direction have me excited to explore further. 
 
So far, El Hijo seems like an enjoyable and charming stealth game that could potentially introduce young-un’s to the genre. Nothing about its design floored me per se, but it plays well and hides a deceptive layer of challenge underneath its friendly looking facade. Plus it's always nice when these types of games allow players to get by without snapping any necks. Keep an eye out for this western when it rolls onto PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch later this year. 
 
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
Here we are, the last day of Pride Month 2019. It has been incredible celebrating alongside the LGBTQIA+ community, and we will continue to support kids and participants of all sexualities and genders. For the final bit of Pride Month, we wanted to highlight the ways Extra Life supports the community and a few of the amazing people who have been helping us better serve every kind of kid.
 
We rang in the month talking about how our Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals help youth address issues specific to LGBTQIA+ people. Some kids enter these facilities in need of mental health help in the form of individual and family therapy. Other teens pass through the doors of these places of healing in search of specialized medical support for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
 
Not only that, but one of our newest Extra Life Ambassadors, Allison, was actually treated in one of those hospitals. Allison is an openly transgender young woman and we are honored that she joined with us to promote Extra Life. She even launched a fundraising effort for Pride Month where she raised over $1,100 USD despite having to end her stream early due to feeling sick. 
 

 
E3 occurs in the middle of Pride Month. I’ve worked with Extra Life since 2013 and been to each one from then until now, but this was my first one out as a trans woman. The experience was difficult, but it provided the motivation to share an intensely personal look into my experiences. Of course, I did that while talking about my favorite game of all-time, Shadow of the Colossus. It’s amazing how games can help us through the difficult times in our lives and allow us to process and find clarity on those times after the fact.
 
The Extra Life community is full of LGBTQIA+ folk who fell in love with gaming as a way of escaping from bad situations or to find themselves. We wanted to highlight a few of those wonderful folks who take a bit of time out of their lives to share their hobby with those around them in order to raise money for sick and injured kids. 
 
If you haven’t heard of Gnome, you really should get on that. He’s a killer podcaster, a performing cast member of both Rise of the Demigods and Encounter Roleplay, and runs the social media for Kobold Press, a fantastic indie tabletop developer. Gnome also happens to be an openly trans man who has been volunteering and raising money for Extra Life (as well as numerous other good causes) since 2015! I mean, come on, he streamed less than three hours ago as of this writing to raise money to help an injured dog – how great is that?
 

 
Sashirle has spent the last several years building up her streaming presence with the goal of raising money for homegrown charities. So far she has raised over $2,000 USD over the past two years for her local hospital and is almost a third of the way to her 2019 goal of $1500 USD. In the future, she wants to create a non-profit that will promote literacy through gaming which seems like an absolutely amazing thing! Stop by her stream sometime to show your support, donate to her cause, and catch a glimpse of Severus Snape and Dobby the Housecat, her two feline friends.
 
Of course, it isn’t just individuals that support Extra Life, whole groups do, too! Houston Gaymers is the largest organized group of gamers in Texas. The community supports one another by providing a safe and loving environment for LGBTQIA+ folk and allies, both in-game and in real life. Each year, the group turns out to support Texas Children’s Hospital through Extra Life, something they have done every year since they were founded in 2009. They also work to provide portable gaming gear to hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters in their community. If you’re in or around the Houston area, you should definitely check out Houston Gaymers.
 

 
We here at Extra Life know that we have one of the best communities in all of gaming. It’s made up of people from all walks of life with different skills and passions who choose to come together every year to help the kids. Some of the people who freely give their labor haven’t had the easiest time because of who they are in the context of our world. Thank you for giving us your energy and time. We will always stand by your side, for Pride Month and for all other months to come.
 
Happy Pride Month, everyone!
 
If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to sign up to participate in Extra Life this year. If you are looking for a team to join or just want to make a contribution, be sure to check out Team Allison. Allison might not have been able to finish her fundraising weekend, but that doesn’t mean she has stopped accepting donations – and she’ll be back for Game Day later this year.

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