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Found 38 results

  1. I am starting a video series to help new streamers learn the basics and get set up! I am no expert, so my videos will be aimed at helping people who aren't tech savvy or artistic set up and have a stream that looks nice. Any feedback is appreciated and let me know what you would like me to do a video on next! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjy25YQvb3Q&feature=youtu.be
  2. Hey Extra Life Community - We have some exciting news to share! In an effort to help make fundraising more fun, more accessible and ultimately easier, we’ve added a new application to the Extra Life experience. Now you can fundraise through our mobile app made possible by a grant from the ESA Foundation! Extra Life Mobile App Manage and share your Extra Life experience on the go with our new Extra Life mobile app. This free app lets you fundraise and connect with others through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Email. You can update your Extra Life page and check your fundraising progress all from the palm of your hand. Learn more in our best practices section! Download the app here: iPhone | Android We’ve also spent the last couple of months improving the mobile experience on the Extra Life website so give the new apps a try. We want to hear what you think so send any feedback and ideas to community@extra-life.org or comment below and let us know! For The Kids, Mike Kinney Team Extra Life Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
  3. It's too early to say if this results in increased support of Extra Life, but... Today I was doing some EL housekeeping for this year's event page and noticed that, at the end of 2016, my hospital had the pleasure of announcing an upgrade to their operating theater as a direct result of donations. So I wrote up a "here's a concrete way that you make a difference" email, including a link to the video about the new operating theater as well as a link to the hospital's most recent annual report. I also included information about the monthly donations option and an upcoming stream I'll be doing to get the fun started early this year. I know that when I donate to a charity, it's always nice to see where my money goes. So I encourage you to check out your hospital's website, or get in touch with their Extra Life rep, to see what's new and let people know that when they support Extra Life, they really do make a difference!
  4. It started with Kevin Braden, the CMN Hospitals Program Director for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago issuing a challenge to the Chicago Guild to raise more than their 2015 grand total of $106,000. In return, this clean-cut, buttoned up dude would dye his hair blue for Extra Life. By the end of Game Day on Sunday, Nov 6, the guild hit their goal, and are still pushing to reach a goal of $120,000 by the end of the year. The Extra Life team interviewed guild member Emily Krukal to learn more about their efforts and how they plan to reach their goals. What types of recruitment activities do you participate in? This year and last year we made a large recruitment push at all of the major conventions in the area. From C2E2 at the beginning of the year all the way to ValorCon at the end of the summer. This year we were also privileged to be at a few gaming event like Smash"N"Splash. The guild also helped facilitate a Clash of the Clans in Chicago. We also made contacts with a the local Independent Game Developer Association and Kevin Fair & IPG (I Play Games) who is a game tournament facilitator & promoter. Also, we are involved with Chicago Twitch Meet Up run by Branden Stennis aka UGRGaming on Twitch. We also did outreach to local establishments like arcades and comic shops. How do you raise funds? Fundraising was done through recruitment events with door prizes from our sponsor SteelSeries as well as on a personal level for each participant. The Guild also helped facilitate a Clash of the Clans Tournament which brought in $10k+ for the hospital. How did your guild focus efforts on the goal of fundraising? Many us of utilized social media to get the word out. Our Guild president, Dave Hansen, was on the official Extra Life Stream Team this year as well. Many of us utilized Twitch to stream on Games Day. Our secretary, Joey Barranco will be streaming Dec 2- 3 on his Twitch channel. We also have not lost sight that fund raising is not over and we are pushing to hit $120k by the end of the year with a few more local events. Any other unique ways your guild is getting involved? One of our guild members challenged every one she knew to save the change from daily transactions during the week and turn it into a donation. This helped us see little amounts add up quickly for the cause. We also reached out to a few of the larger guilds through the forums to get idea for recruitment & member retention and found they are doing what we are doing. The guild was also very fortunate in have in SteelSeries as a sponsor. They were VERY generous in providing us with items for door prizes. If you look at the attached picture, you can get an idea of just the tip of the iceberg from SteelSeries. We also held two lunch & learns, one at NetherRealms Studios and one at Microsoft. You have seen the results of Kevin's stretch promise, Dave shaved his beard to look like Abraham from the Walking Dead and he is also slated for a Extra Life themed tattoo. View full article
  5. It started with Kevin Braden, the CMN Hospitals Program Director for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago issuing a challenge to the Chicago Guild to raise more than their 2015 grand total of $106,000. In return, this clean-cut, buttoned up dude would dye his hair blue for Extra Life. By the end of Game Day on Sunday, Nov 6, the guild hit their goal, and are still pushing to reach a goal of $120,000 by the end of the year. The Extra Life team interviewed guild member Emily Krukal to learn more about their efforts and how they plan to reach their goals. What types of recruitment activities do you participate in? This year and last year we made a large recruitment push at all of the major conventions in the area. From C2E2 at the beginning of the year all the way to ValorCon at the end of the summer. This year we were also privileged to be at a few gaming event like Smash"N"Splash. The guild also helped facilitate a Clash of the Clans in Chicago. We also made contacts with a the local Independent Game Developer Association and Kevin Fair & IPG (I Play Games) who is a game tournament facilitator & promoter. Also, we are involved with Chicago Twitch Meet Up run by Branden Stennis aka UGRGaming on Twitch. We also did outreach to local establishments like arcades and comic shops. How do you raise funds? Fundraising was done through recruitment events with door prizes from our sponsor SteelSeries as well as on a personal level for each participant. The Guild also helped facilitate a Clash of the Clans Tournament which brought in $10k+ for the hospital. How did your guild focus efforts on the goal of fundraising? Many us of utilized social media to get the word out. Our Guild president, Dave Hansen, was on the official Extra Life Stream Team this year as well. Many of us utilized Twitch to stream on Games Day. Our secretary, Joey Barranco will be streaming Dec 2- 3 on his Twitch channel. We also have not lost sight that fund raising is not over and we are pushing to hit $120k by the end of the year with a few more local events. Any other unique ways your guild is getting involved? One of our guild members challenged every one she knew to save the change from daily transactions during the week and turn it into a donation. This helped us see little amounts add up quickly for the cause. We also reached out to a few of the larger guilds through the forums to get idea for recruitment & member retention and found they are doing what we are doing. The guild was also very fortunate in have in SteelSeries as a sponsor. They were VERY generous in providing us with items for door prizes. If you look at the attached picture, you can get an idea of just the tip of the iceberg from SteelSeries. We also held two lunch & learns, one at NetherRealms Studios and one at Microsoft. You have seen the results of Kevin's stretch promise, Dave shaved his beard to look like Abraham from the Walking Dead and he is also slated for a Extra Life themed tattoo.
  6. As someone who does the majority of fundraising via social media, my Guild members have recently asked me to give some advice on raising money on social media, especially on Facebook. About 90% of the money I’ve raised in the last three years ($400+ in 2014, $700+ in 2015, and this year I expect to do over $3,000 including my ELU winnings) has come from Facebook posts. Below are 5 pieces of advice to improve your fundraising through Facebook. 1) Post often, but not too often My hospital rep always tells my Guild that it can take up to 10 “asks” before someone donates to your cause. This is simply because people are forgetful and busy. They will see your post or email and think “I’m totally going to do that” and then get distracted. Therefore, it’s important to post on a regular basis...but don’t overload them. If you post all the time, your message will get overlooked. Once a week at most is my recommendation for the months leading up to game day. I usually do 2 or 3 times a month. However, now that we are closer to game day (18 days!) you want to ramp it up to 2 or 3 times a WEEK! People are familiar with what I do for EL, but every time I post, someone new donates or likes or joins and it surprises me every time…so keep it up! If you don’t get on Facebook that often, there is an app you can sync with FB (https://apps.facebook.com/bf-extralife/?fb_source=feed) that posts automatically for you, but more to come on that… 2) Personalize the posts Money is personal. People aren’t going to donate to a cause they can’t personalize with in some way. It could be their connection to you and a desire to support what you’re doing…or it could be they sympathize with a story you tell. This is where the Extra Life app suffers if you do automated posts: it does not allow you personalize and vary (more to come) the automatic posts as much as you should. Tell people why you Extra Life. Share a story of a kid at the hospital. Both Extra Life and CMN national share great stories on FB that you can share easily and personalize with a bit of your own text…don’t forget to add your donation link in the description! If people see what you’re helping…they will be more apt to donate. If you’re in a Guild or do local recruitment, you can make Extra Life even more personal by posting pictures of adventures you have at events. If you stream, you can make Extra Life personal by talking about it in your stream or posting about both EL and your stream on FB. There are lots of ways to do this, but it’s definitely worth the time to make it personal. If you’re passionate, people will recognize it. 3) Vary your posts If you take nothing away from this…take this one: variation is necessary in the world of social media. No one wants to read the same thing over and over. Just think about when something goes viral…you see it once and then you skim over every other share of it because you’ve already seen it. It’s the same with the posts you make. If you say the same thing every time…even if you only make them twice a month…people will remember the similarity and skip right over. The Extra Life app is helpful in this regard as it has several pre-made texts to choose from and you can switch them up. However, I encourage you to post outside of the automatic application as well. The text in the post is not the only thing you should vary…you must ALSO change the format. Post a picture, post a link via the app, post a story (yours or a kids), post a selfie, post a prize you’re giving away, post a picture of your goal meter, post a wall of text, post a video, take a live video, post a streaming link, post a picture of a kid, post your hospital link, and any combination of the above. The more different ways you post it, the more people you will engage, as people are attracted to different things on FB. Just think about yourself…there is one type of post (video, photo, status, link, article) that you ALWAYS check out from your friends and one type of post you ALWAYS avoid. It also never hurts to vary the LENGTH of your text posts/descriptions as well. Social media is a very quick-moving place and not everyone is going to read a block of text. I am a verbose person (which is probably obvious given the length of this post) and it can be hard for me to shorten my posts. I have success with both long and short posts, but as with anything…you’ll learn what works for you. 4) Create mini-goals Having a goal of more than $100 can be intimidating to people, especially younger, poorer people like myself. Asking someone to help you hit a goal of $1,000 or more can be scary. Even though YOU know that every donation counts and it all adds up…it’s hard to prove to someone that even their $5 will make a difference in your grand total. Thus, I suggest breaking your goal down into smaller goals. Maybe shoot for a monthly goal. Or, in this last ditch effort to game day, make a weekly or daily goal of $25 or whatever dollars. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll hit that mini-goal. For instance, my goal is $3,000 this year. I recently posted on FB with a selfie about being $100-something away from $2,750 (which is $1,000 over my ELU winnings) and raised $75 that day. I didn’t get all the way to $2,750, but I got closer…which is all that matters. Every dollar goes directly to kids in your area and every dollar closer is important. Don’t lose sight of that! If you are doing giveaways, you can use these giveaways for mini-goals as well! Many ELers have prizes for donors who donate a certain amount or raffle off items to people who donate in a certain time frame or a certain amount of money. Facebook can be a great way to promote this. I don’t go the giveaway/raffle route, but still find breaking my goal into more attainable numbers to work well for me. Imagine how it would work if I had giveaways or raffles!! 5) GAME DAY Don’t hide on game day….BE ACTIVE. All of the advice above goes TRIPLE on game day…except number 1. You can NEVER post too often on Game Day. The biggest day for donations for most people is game day itself. All of those people who swore they were going to do it before will realize the deadline is NOW and will donate. So, don't forget to take advantage of that. Make videos. Post pictures. Always ALWAYS post your donation link with everything. Update people on your gaming and your fundraising. Chat with friends. Not only does it keep you awake and make game day go faster, but it allows your friends to see what you’re doing and they will WANT to help you on Game Day. Moreover, they may even realize the fun they are missing and want to join up next time I hope this has given you some ideas and I hope you all have a great game day. If you have any questions, please message me or respond and I will help! Also, if any of you other successful social media fundraisers want to give tips…leave them below. The more the merrier! PS…I have also done well using the emailing function the Extra Life website for co-workers and do want to take this second to recommend that feature!
  7. Hey Extra Life Community - We have some exciting news to share! In an effort to help make fundraising more fun, more accessible and ultimately easier, we’ve added a new application to the Extra Life experience. Now you can fundraise through our mobile app made possible by a grant from the ESA Foundation! Extra Life Mobile App Manage and share your Extra Life experience on the go with our new Extra Life mobile app. This free app lets you fundraise and connect with others through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Email. You can update your Extra Life page and check your fundraising progress all from the palm of your hand. Learn more in our best practices section! Download the app here: iPhone | Android We’ve also spent the last couple of months improving the mobile experience on the Extra Life website so give the new apps a try. We want to hear what you think so send any feedback and ideas to community@extra-life.org or comment below and let us know! For The Kids, Mike Kinney Team Extra Life Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals View full article
  8. During Extra Life United, I had the opportunity to sit down with Elijah Powell, the president of the Anchorage Guild, and Cameron Cowles, the vice president of the Guild and creator of the 907 Gamers team. I talked with them about the story of their Guild and their meteoric rise to become one of the most successful fundraising teams in North America with over $200,000 raised for 2015 - a sum which won them and the Providence Children's Hospital the ESA Per Capita check for an additional $30,000. Wondering how they managed to pull off that feat of fundraising and how you can do it, too? Read on! ~~~ Jack Gardner: You guys kind of built up this guild up out of nothing and became one of the biggest fundraisers in the United States. You were just holding the comically large $30,000 ESA check for your hospital. How did that happen? Cameron Cowles: Well, Elijah knew about Extra Life way before I did. He had been following since Sarcastic Gamer- Elijah Powell: Yeah, back in the Sarcastic Gamer days. So I have been following since ‘06 or ’07 - whenever the first one was, I followed it. And 2014 I just said, “You know, I need to do this. It is something- I’ve got 2 months to raise money I am going to raise $100.” I sat down on my computer and spammed Facebook for a couple months. I had $100 in less than 24 hours and it blew my mind. My goal just kinda went up from there. Before that, I had no interaction with 907 Gamers. I knew they were a thing, but I didn’t really know anything about them. I just went on the Extra Life page and searched for a group and found 907 Gamers and kinda attached to them to see where they were going. I found out we had a mutual friend, Charlie Sears, and that’s how our relationship grew out of that. Cameron can tell you the rest of the story for 907 Gamers and Extra Life. CC: For 907 Gamers [in 2014], I saw a picture that went around the internet that a lot of different people have seen. It was from Portland, PDXLAN, a very big gaming event that happens every year. They had posted on Reddit a picture of this room full of dried rice and all this donated stuff, like food – they had something like 22 tons of donated food. At the bottom it was almost like a meme, “but the local press didn’t post the story anywhere.” It was kind of highlighting that gamers don’t get attention for this stuff like they should. And I thought, Well, what can I do about that? I want to do something good – it doesn’t really matter to me what it is, but something local, something good, with the chair that I’m in. Our group at the time had something like 1,400 people in it. I thought if I could steer this in a direction that’s good, maybe that will get gaming and the community and gamers in Alaska into the press. Maybe get good feedback from the community and let people know that gaming can be a positive thing. I was searching for what would fit for that; what would be the right charity. There are a lot of charities out there, but Extra Life seemed really good for three reasons. It fit because it’s local and there’s not really any charities that I have seen that we can say, “We want the money to go to this hospital right where we live.” That was tenet one: It’s local. Tenet two: You can make your own team and organize your own people into it, but retain who you are. Then tenet three: It was very easy to sign up and do an event. We went on the website and without talking with anybody made a team. We were able to use the tools on there to send people messages and stuff. We just threw together an event, no expectations. We ended up having to raise our bar, raise our bar, raise our bar because we were raising so much money- EP: It was funny, I think your original goal was $500 or something. $500 and then I joined, that’s another $100. Then we hit the $500 and I think I messaged you and asked, “Are we going to raise the bar or are we going to be stuck going positive on the $500?” About 20 minutes later we bumped it up to $1,000 and it was two days later that we hit $1,000. It blew my mind how we could escalate so quickly. And then from there you had your event. CC: It’s so exciting to keep pushing that bar. Cuz it was like, Oh, man, we actually have something here. Like we’re ranking up. We are actually a contender here. And then I’m like, I’m going to spend a few hours on this and dump a few hours into it. Every hour I dumped was exponential. It was like I dumped 8 hours into this now and it has gone up to $3,000 I just keep dumping time into that and we are just going to keep going up and up and up. JG: What were you doing, exactly? Were you messaging people? CC: Private messaging people directly with a little copy-paste with some of the Extra Life promo material: Hey, it’s Cameron here. You know me I just wanted to let you know there is this Extra Life thing we are doing. If you have any questions I’d be glad to explain it. Here is a short video,” and I shared some of the Extra Life promo material, “if you think this is something cool that you might be excited to do, it is going to make money for a good cause, and you aren’t going to have more fun than a 24 hour gaming thing. I’d like you to jump in with us. We are going to throw a free little get-together; come join us! It all goes through this webpage and it all goes to local Providence Children’s Hospital. Every three people someone would be like, “This is amazing! I am so on board.” Maybe the other two people don’t view it or whatever, but I would message 800, 900 people. When it pops up on their phone it isn’t an event invite, it isn’t some spam. The think, This guy knows me from the gamer group; this is a personal invite. Can I join this? It got a lot of attention. We had the open doors lot of people could – Elijah heard about it himself, I didn’t private message him myself, he just heard about it, but a lot of it was private messaging and just getting people together and networking people together. JG: Putting in the time to make it personal. EP: Right. Someone thinks you are taking the time to talk specifically to them instead of: “HEY THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING COME JOIN US AND MAYBE YOU WILL SIGN UP AND MAYBE YOU WON’T!” CC: When a cashier or something asks you at the mall if you want to donate to breast cancer, it is easy to say, “no thanks,” and move on. But when your personal friend asks, “Will you do this thing with me for a good cause?” They are more likely to say, “Oh yeah, sure! It sounds fun.” JG: It is kind of the difference between going out and shouting “I’M DOING THIS THIIIING!!!” and approaching someone and taking the time to explain it, “I am doing this thing.” EP: Right, exactly. JG: So, your guild kind of exploded. CC: Well [the 2014] event happened without a guild. So for our first event, we, as 907 Gamers, went to this space, it is called the Maker Space. It is like this crowdfunded, non-profit tool shed where people can donate their tools and share time. They pay dues like $40-$100 a year to come and use printers and all these things and they have this back space. So we told them, “We would love to host this event where all these people come with laptops and Xboxes and TVs and play here.” They were like, “Yeah, it sounds like a great thing for us to do, get some publicity for the Maker Space from a bunch of likeminded people and the right demographic. Let’s do it. Let’s throw it together.” So, we were able to grease the wheels with the idea that this is a good cause and we all should do it. It didn’t cost anyone any money and we just kind of organized it and we did about a month of promotion for it. JG: And how did you promote it? CC: Just Facebook messages, a Facebook event, some Twittering, tagging, I mean we had a Facebook group at the time of 1,400 people that are all locals, so they would take it from there and share it on their timeline. We had some local viral effects; made YouTube videos from the b-roll from our previous events that we had done. Just putting signs on the road, we did as much stuff as we could. We weren’t working with the hospital yet. It was just our team as a community going and doing this. That night, I remember we were just rolling and rolling our bar up higher and higher during that 24 hour period. We went $5-$6-$7-$8-$9,000 and there weren’t that many people there! EP: I think at one time he went from $7,500 to $10,000 or something. There was a huge jump and I was just like, Alright, he is setting his bar high! CC: It didn’t make sense to us because we had maybe 86 people on our team, but maybe only 50 people attending. But we were making thousands of dollars an hour you know and it was just like, Man, this event is a game changer. The fact that we are holding this local gathering is just like- people all have their computers there so they are taking breaks from gaming saying, “Well, I have been playing games for five hours so I am going to sit and put a little time in, an hour of messaging.” And it wasn’t just me anymore and Elijah had gone through a bunch of family and friends, but when we get these random people in there that just come to our events, we show them what we are doing and they say things like, “Well, I have a computer here, too. I brought mine.” Basically we had a giant typestudio. We had a studio of everyone writing out messages. It was like a little sweat factory for getting the word out! It was really cool. I think I spent 9 hours of that 24 hour thing writing messages. I had at the time about 1,000 friends and I went through all of them from A-Z messaging every single one. A lot of them would come back with questions and I’d answer those, keeping a conversation going, giving them links. When multiple people are doing that it’s just crazy. The people at that event definitely donated a lot, but people are shaving their heads on Twitch for donations from outside. We did little auctions where people brought paintings or old gaming gear. One person was like, “I don’t have the money; I am living paycheck to paycheck. I can’t donate to Extra Life, but I do have an old Sega Genesis with a lot of games that I don’t play anymore and I am sure some gamer here would love to have it.” What better way to give than to give them this in return for a donation? They can get something right now from another gamer that is thanking them for donating. It’s the extra step. Just having a lot of that stuff happening. It was infectious. EP: I didn’t get the opportunity to go to the [2014 event]. My first Extra Life was very, very personal to me. I just stayed at home with a couple of friends and we kinda just did our own thing. They had a video editor on site and every hour and a half he was pumping out a new video of some new crazy thing that was going on down at the event. It would have been nice to have been there, but when you start seeing those numbers, they just keep coming. It was amazing. I think then from there you had your check presentation. CC: Yeah, so then we finished at $11,000 and our event was done and we were like holy moley. This was way beyond- we didn’t know what we were getting into with Extra Life, but this was a shock. Holy crap, you know? We all had fun everyone loved it, so we decided to do it again next year. So we were thinking, how are we going to get $11,000 again? That was a lot of work. Writing all those messages, getting all those people together, getting the space and everything, so we thought maybe we should look for some help outside of us and a Facebook group. We all did 24 hours of work that day, space, gear, I don’t know how many hours leading up to it was spent on getting people involved, added, and joining. But it was more effective than we ever thought it would be. We wanted to do it again, but we knew we had to work smarter and get help from the right people, bigger organizations than just our Facebook group involved. JG: How did you go about doing that? CC: [We had someone talk with Rick Heaton and Doc at Extra Life] and heard about the Guilds. We said, man we need a Guild. We need a connection to something that can work directly with the hospital, spread awareness through all sorts of things, just pull all these pieces together. We need a Guild. Elijah, through the 2014 event, he did it personally, I did it with a group – I was the second ranked fundraiser, but he beat me personally by himself. EP: Yeah and that’s one of the biggest – when you tell people that you are doing this Extra Life thing they ask, “Where am I supposed to find the money?” I’m answer, “I don’t want you to give me the money. That’s not what I am asking. Just ask other people for money.” That’s all I did. I signed up almost exactly two months before the event and it was twice a day I would spam Facebook saying, “Guys, the only way to get me to shut up is by donating so either donate or block me, but it isn’t going to stop coming.” So friends and family and coworkers some cash donations- CC: He broke $2,000 in a very personal way, not taking any shortcuts at all. The legitimate-connection-to-friends-and-family-way and that was hardcore. I was really impressed because I have all these people that I’m not really personally attached to in any way- they are in my facebook group and maybe we talk about games here or there, but I don’t know their life and I’ve never met some of them. I spammed out ten times as many messages, but he still beat me and that was incredible. It was really awesome that he was able to do that. We did a big check thing and that was a big turning point. We talked to a local company to do a big, fake check to symbolize that we went and raised $11,000 because, although we did it and it was online- the people that were there knew about it, but no one else knew about it. And we want everyone to know what happened. The fact that it happened was great, but we should ride off of that so that next year it is even bigger when people know about it and they can get ready to be there and be part of it. We took the check, took about five of us and scheduled a meeting with our rep at CMNH here in Anchorage. We went over there with the big check and they had never met us before. We wanted to symbolically give this to them and maybe shake hands. Maybe have the press come and takes a picture and let people know this happened. Because a lot of gamers out there weren’t a part of this. They didn’t know and they could have been. So we showed up and I think it sent a really serious vibe that we were committed to this and wanted to do it again. We weren’t just a fly-by-night operation. […] It was like February 2015 that we officially became an Anchorage guild. We were super stoked about that. EP: What’s shocking is how easy they make it to become a guild. I think it is 100 participants donate $100. For us, I think we had well over that. CC: Our first year we had 88 participants, but our average- I don’t know about statewide EP: Statewide was a little bit more, $200 or $300 maybe. We ended with $31,000 at the end of 2014 which was coming from 2013 when I think we raised $500 in our entire state. What that tells me is that somebody was participating in Extra Life, but nobody knew about Extra Life, nobody was getting the word out. We went into the Guild thing not knowing what the hell it was, then going into 2015 having all these different people showing up. JG: The hospital can be such a huge resource. EP: Yeah, absolutely. 907 Gamers, since they are the biggest Facebook group in Alaska, Cameron is able to reach out to every one of those people and it is kinda cool that we get to see new faces every time we meet as a Guild so we can share our message; share what we are doing because I am sure there are half a dozen people in between now and last year that say, “Man, what the hell is this Extra Life thing? Maybe I’ll go to the Guild meeting and figure out what it is all about.” CC: We had lots of people come that we didn’t know about coming to say, “Hey, I work for this bottling company and I can bring Rockstar for you guys.” Cool! And another said, “I have a snowboard to give away.” Oh, wow! I didn’t know we had that. We just all these people just come out of the woodwork. By the time we had our event we had a 24 hour schedule of DJs willing to donate their time to DJ for sets. We had something like 20 sets from 18 artists. JG: These are just people who showed up to your guild meetings? CC: Yeah and I reached out to some people that organized the EDM scene in Alaska, which is a very tightknit community and said, “We are doing this gamer thing and we would like DJs to come,” and then those people would go through their network. EP: I think Extra Life really brought everyone together to let everyone know that we are all pushing toward the same goal. It’s not 907 Gamers vs Magic: The Gathering vs the boardgamers. We are all Extra Life. This is what we are doing and this is what we are doing it for. CC: [Our meetings] are just an open hub that happens every month that’s in the hospital. Anyone should feel welcome to come to the local hospital and come to the Guild meeting and talk. They don’t have to be invited or know someone. This is a public event seeking public help from anyone. They can walk in. Not only that, having our hospital connection from the Guild, we know how to say, “Hey, you want to donate as Rockstar? Here is the person to talk to from the hospital and you can become a sponsor. Just go through them, we don’t deal with that.” Then they do it. It’s super easy and then they are at the event. Rockstar is at the event. That’s so cool. As 907 Gamers that would never be possible. EP: Or as Joe Shmo down the road trying to organize his own thing that wouldn’t be possible, but because we have Extra Life to bring us all together that’s opened up huge avenues for us. CC: Yeah, what has ended up happening is this hybrid machine that you have the big grass roots group pushing into and then you have anyone else that’s a corporation or other group or whatever going through the Guild and we all show up at the same thing and put on this huge show. In 2015 we went from fundraising around $30,000 to $200,000. We had a huge 24 hour event. We had to turn people away we had two generators- EP: We probably had 300-400 people show up to our event. And we had to turn away half of those because we couldn’t provide the power. CC: Our Facebook event invite was just growing and growing as the months went by. It was going to be like a stampede. We started promoting the event about three months prior. Oh man, we have 200 people now, this is getting pretty crazy. Last year was 86, so I hope not all of these people come. More and more piled up; 300, 400, 500 going. JG: Was this in the same space as the previous year, the studio? EP: No, no, no, this time we took over an entire stadium. [Laughs] The Children’s Hospital Providence has close ties to Alaska Airlines and Alaska Airlines just built this gigantic arena for the college and we were actually able to take over half the entire thing. CC: They had an auxiliary gym and that was a big step from our last event. Our last event was a long, industrial car garage and now we are in a full gym. Even with that huge jump in square feet by maybe a factor of fifteen or twenty in size we still sent hundreds of people away. We didn’t have the power for that. They dropped a 750 kilowatt generator, which is equivalent to the hospital that I was working at the time; they had a backup that kicks in if the power goes out. We had a hospital-sized generator there plus another smaller one, a 250, and the building and it wasn’t enough power. So we had an absolute slam, a tidal wave of people show up. And we can grow this. In this same event space- in the main area we have upper seating and lower seating and a giant basketball court for volleyball, basketball, college sports, a jumbotron sitting up top. That’s where we need to be next year. EP: Alaska is kind of unique because there are no conventions. There is no place for people to go to experience something like this. For us to provide that to people, that helps to boost the participation with Extra Life. If people have that thing to come to then maybe they are more willing to help out with our cause. CC: Extra Life is a new charity. A lot of people have no conception of what it is when you ask them to join. If you ask someone to donate to breast awareness, they have no affiliation with that. But when we put on this huge event and you see a video of it, you are like, Holy crap! How did I miss this? I am going to this next year, you know what I mean? People came from Fairbanks. That’s a six hour drive that people were making to come to this. And now every year that we put out a video that shows what we did it just grows. This year we started our team January 10, right at the beginning of the year. We set up automated posts for our Facebook to once a week say, “hey we are doing Extra Life this year please take the time to join.” Took a lot of extra steps compared to three months of promotion we have a full year now. Hopefully we can get a bigger space and do an even bigger event and continue to push that. I think it gives us a step up on the every other charity in Alaska because nothing is going on with those. Everyone wants to be a part of Extra Life. JG: With this last event, did you also have another space for people just to send out emails? CC: People set up their computers, so we had a huge row of probably 150 desktop computers set up for gaming, but any time when they are bored of their game or their tournament bracket is over, we’d be on the mic asking for people to please tweet, share, use their phone, take a video, post it anywhere, post a donation link to your profile. It was just incredible. Leading up to that event- as we got closer and closer, we were getting thousands of dollars every ten hours or something. We weren’t even at the event yet. By the time we got to the event we were already at $50,000 plus. The event was so big that our local ISP showed up and said, “This is so cool that this is all running on our network and all these computers are playing and all these Xboxes are connecting to GCI. Man, this is so cool!” And the VP of the ISP says, “We are going to match it up to $50,000.” So suddenly our $50,000 starts blowing out last years. We just doubled it in an instant by talking to one guy. Oh my god. Now we are in the running for the ESA check now we can win $30,000 because we are the per capita winners right now. It just attracted a lot of attention. It was unreal. JG: What do you think makes the difference between the Alaska program you have going on here and other places that have been struggling to blow up like this? CC: I can go through a list of them. One, 907 Gamers as a Facebook group is just like other Facebook groups with members and people who play, but there is a very talented team behind it that puts these events on. So, we have experience putting the events on far before we ever got involved in Extra Life. There is a huge almost-free employee network that exists for Extra Life now where we come and put these on. We have a union electrician. We have like five networking IT pros that have worked in the State government and banks – they are very professional. We have me with the social media stuff; I’m like a local celebrity now from 907 Gamers. Now we have a guild now which a lot of places don’t have. Alaska is a place where there is not a lot of competition. There is no one else doing this. If we stopped doing it, no one would do it. If 907 Gamers stopped doing LAN events completely, they would just cease to exist because there really isn’t another network team that’s doing that. There isn’t anyone who has teamed up like that before. So there are those things from 907 gamers. On top of that, Alaska is a place that’s extremely dark during the winter. It’s very cold. It’s hostile outside. People don’t want to be out in that -20 degree wind, so a lot of people want to be gamers. That’s also compounded by the fact that in Alaska there isn’t really a way to socialize that well in the winter. You can go to movies… and you can stay home. EP: We aren’t really the hey-let’s-go-to-the-mall-type people. CC: It’s too much work to go to the mall! You have to scrape the ice off your car. It is nice to stay home. But here this is something where, yeah, you have to bring your equipment and stuff so there is a bit of a time investment there, but once you get there if it is 24 hours. It’s like this is going to be a totally awesome weekend. JG: It was worth it. CC: Right. It was worth the investment for all that fun and I think a lot of people, because it is a small community, see people they know involved in it and feel drawn into it through that personal connection. EP: I’ve been doing it, this is my third year now, and I finally got my brother talked into it. I think he just recently got a PlayStation. Maybe I never reached out to him, but he was like “what is this Extra Life thing you keep posting about? Why do you keep doing that?” A little five minute conversation and we got him signed up in under fifteen minutes. It’s just taking the time to explain it to other people. Like I said before, people don’t know what it is. JG: One last question: What advice would you give to other places that maybe don’t have the same climate or have more diverse groups? EP: Just have the conversation. Extra Life doesn’t work by itself. It strictly relies on you going out to your friends, your family, encouraging them to get involved and then encouraging them to tell other people. Or even just going to complete strangers! You have to have the conversation because without the conversation you really aren’t going to go anywhere. You have to talk. CC: I think my advice would be: There already is an organization out there, generally, whether people know about it or not. Like, 907 Gamers was there, we just didn’t know about Extra Life. So you just need to connect. When the connection happened we found our cause. I guarantee there are other people out there that have not found their cause. Gamers, in general, they get in communities. You see gamer communities all over the internet, whether it is Destiny clans or World of Warcraft guilds, they just are there. It is just a matter of connecting them to Extra Life. They are already an organization that recruits; you already pretty much have what you need right there. You just need to inject Extra Life and ask “Would you like to do that with us?” Twitch streamers already recruit followers, you know what I mean? Gamers do that already. With other charities- you might have a runner. Runners don’t recruit, not really. Gaming already has organizations that you can use. I guess I would say try to unify those and connect them to Extra Life locally. I think every local community wants to help a local cause. ~~~ A huge thank you to Elijah and Cameron for taking the time to sit down with me in the middle of all the United craziness. If you are in Alaska, be sure to check out the 907 Gamers site or Facebook group.
  9. During Extra Life United, I had the opportunity to sit down with Elijah Powell, the president of the Anchorage Guild, and Cameron Cowles, the vice president of the Guild and creator of the 907 Gamers team. I talked with them about the story of their Guild and their meteoric rise to become one of the most successful fundraising teams in North America with over $200,000 raised for 2015 - a sum which won them and the Providence Children's Hospital the ESA Per Capita check for an additional $30,000. Wondering how they managed to pull off that feat of fundraising and how you can do it, too? Read on! ~~~ Jack Gardner: You guys kind of built up this guild up out of nothing and became one of the biggest fundraisers in the United States. You were just holding the comically large $30,000 ESA check for your hospital. How did that happen? Cameron Cowles: Well, Elijah knew about Extra Life way before I did. He had been following since Sarcastic Gamer- Elijah Powell: Yeah, back in the Sarcastic Gamer days. So I have been following since ‘06 or ’07 - whenever the first one was, I followed it. And 2014 I just said, “You know, I need to do this. It is something- I’ve got 2 months to raise money I am going to raise $100.” I sat down on my computer and spammed Facebook for a couple months. I had $100 in less than 24 hours and it blew my mind. My goal just kinda went up from there. Before that, I had no interaction with 907 Gamers. I knew they were a thing, but I didn’t really know anything about them. I just went on the Extra Life page and searched for a group and found 907 Gamers and kinda attached to them to see where they were going. I found out we had a mutual friend, Charlie Sears, and that’s how our relationship grew out of that. Cameron can tell you the rest of the story for 907 Gamers and Extra Life. CC: For 907 Gamers [in 2014], I saw a picture that went around the internet that a lot of different people have seen. It was from Portland, PDXLAN, a very big gaming event that happens every year. They had posted on Reddit a picture of this room full of dried rice and all this donated stuff, like food – they had something like 22 tons of donated food. At the bottom it was almost like a meme, “but the local press didn’t post the story anywhere.” It was kind of highlighting that gamers don’t get attention for this stuff like they should. And I thought, Well, what can I do about that? I want to do something good – it doesn’t really matter to me what it is, but something local, something good, with the chair that I’m in. Our group at the time had something like 1,400 people in it. I thought if I could steer this in a direction that’s good, maybe that will get gaming and the community and gamers in Alaska into the press. Maybe get good feedback from the community and let people know that gaming can be a positive thing. I was searching for what would fit for that; what would be the right charity. There are a lot of charities out there, but Extra Life seemed really good for three reasons. It fit because it’s local and there’s not really any charities that I have seen that we can say, “We want the money to go to this hospital right where we live.” That was tenet one: It’s local. Tenet two: You can make your own team and organize your own people into it, but retain who you are. Then tenet three: It was very easy to sign up and do an event. We went on the website and without talking with anybody made a team. We were able to use the tools on there to send people messages and stuff. We just threw together an event, no expectations. We ended up having to raise our bar, raise our bar, raise our bar because we were raising so much money- EP: It was funny, I think your original goal was $500 or something. $500 and then I joined, that’s another $100. Then we hit the $500 and I think I messaged you and asked, “Are we going to raise the bar or are we going to be stuck going positive on the $500?” About 20 minutes later we bumped it up to $1,000 and it was two days later that we hit $1,000. It blew my mind how we could escalate so quickly. And then from there you had your event. CC: It’s so exciting to keep pushing that bar. Cuz it was like, Oh, man, we actually have something here. Like we’re ranking up. We are actually a contender here. And then I’m like, I’m going to spend a few hours on this and dump a few hours into it. Every hour I dumped was exponential. It was like I dumped 8 hours into this now and it has gone up to $3,000 I just keep dumping time into that and we are just going to keep going up and up and up. JG: What were you doing, exactly? Were you messaging people? CC: Private messaging people directly with a little copy-paste with some of the Extra Life promo material: Hey, it’s Cameron here. You know me I just wanted to let you know there is this Extra Life thing we are doing. If you have any questions I’d be glad to explain it. Here is a short video,” and I shared some of the Extra Life promo material, “if you think this is something cool that you might be excited to do, it is going to make money for a good cause, and you aren’t going to have more fun than a 24 hour gaming thing. I’d like you to jump in with us. We are going to throw a free little get-together; come join us! It all goes through this webpage and it all goes to local Providence Children’s Hospital. Every three people someone would be like, “This is amazing! I am so on board.” Maybe the other two people don’t view it or whatever, but I would message 800, 900 people. When it pops up on their phone it isn’t an event invite, it isn’t some spam. The think, This guy knows me from the gamer group; this is a personal invite. Can I join this? It got a lot of attention. We had the open doors lot of people could – Elijah heard about it himself, I didn’t private message him myself, he just heard about it, but a lot of it was private messaging and just getting people together and networking people together. JG: Putting in the time to make it personal. EP: Right. Someone thinks you are taking the time to talk specifically to them instead of: “HEY THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING COME JOIN US AND MAYBE YOU WILL SIGN UP AND MAYBE YOU WON’T!” CC: When a cashier or something asks you at the mall if you want to donate to breast cancer, it is easy to say, “no thanks,” and move on. But when your personal friend asks, “Will you do this thing with me for a good cause?” They are more likely to say, “Oh yeah, sure! It sounds fun.” JG: It is kind of the difference between going out and shouting “I’M DOING THIS THIIIING!!!” and approaching someone and taking the time to explain it, “I am doing this thing.” EP: Right, exactly. JG: So, your guild kind of exploded. CC: Well [the 2014] event happened without a guild. So for our first event, we, as 907 Gamers, went to this space, it is called the Maker Space. It is like this crowdfunded, non-profit tool shed where people can donate their tools and share time. They pay dues like $40-$100 a year to come and use printers and all these things and they have this back space. So we told them, “We would love to host this event where all these people come with laptops and Xboxes and TVs and play here.” They were like, “Yeah, it sounds like a great thing for us to do, get some publicity for the Maker Space from a bunch of likeminded people and the right demographic. Let’s do it. Let’s throw it together.” So, we were able to grease the wheels with the idea that this is a good cause and we all should do it. It didn’t cost anyone any money and we just kind of organized it and we did about a month of promotion for it. JG: And how did you promote it? CC: Just Facebook messages, a Facebook event, some Twittering, tagging, I mean we had a Facebook group at the time of 1,400 people that are all locals, so they would take it from there and share it on their timeline. We had some local viral effects; made YouTube videos from the b-roll from our previous events that we had done. Just putting signs on the road, we did as much stuff as we could. We weren’t working with the hospital yet. It was just our team as a community going and doing this. That night, I remember we were just rolling and rolling our bar up higher and higher during that 24 hour period. We went $5-$6-$7-$8-$9,000 and there weren’t that many people there! EP: I think at one time he went from $7,500 to $10,000 or something. There was a huge jump and I was just like, Alright, he is setting his bar high! CC: It didn’t make sense to us because we had maybe 86 people on our team, but maybe only 50 people attending. But we were making thousands of dollars an hour you know and it was just like, Man, this event is a game changer. The fact that we are holding this local gathering is just like- people all have their computers there so they are taking breaks from gaming saying, “Well, I have been playing games for five hours so I am going to sit and put a little time in, an hour of messaging.” And it wasn’t just me anymore and Elijah had gone through a bunch of family and friends, but when we get these random people in there that just come to our events, we show them what we are doing and they say things like, “Well, I have a computer here, too. I brought mine.” Basically we had a giant typestudio. We had a studio of everyone writing out messages. It was like a little sweat factory for getting the word out! It was really cool. I think I spent 9 hours of that 24 hour thing writing messages. I had at the time about 1,000 friends and I went through all of them from A-Z messaging every single one. A lot of them would come back with questions and I’d answer those, keeping a conversation going, giving them links. When multiple people are doing that it’s just crazy. The people at that event definitely donated a lot, but people are shaving their heads on Twitch for donations from outside. We did little auctions where people brought paintings or old gaming gear. One person was like, “I don’t have the money; I am living paycheck to paycheck. I can’t donate to Extra Life, but I do have an old Sega Genesis with a lot of games that I don’t play anymore and I am sure some gamer here would love to have it.” What better way to give than to give them this in return for a donation? They can get something right now from another gamer that is thanking them for donating. It’s the extra step. Just having a lot of that stuff happening. It was infectious. EP: I didn’t get the opportunity to go to the [2014 event]. My first Extra Life was very, very personal to me. I just stayed at home with a couple of friends and we kinda just did our own thing. They had a video editor on site and every hour and a half he was pumping out a new video of some new crazy thing that was going on down at the event. It would have been nice to have been there, but when you start seeing those numbers, they just keep coming. It was amazing. I think then from there you had your check presentation. CC: Yeah, so then we finished at $11,000 and our event was done and we were like holy moley. This was way beyond- we didn’t know what we were getting into with Extra Life, but this was a shock. Holy crap, you know? We all had fun everyone loved it, so we decided to do it again next year. So we were thinking, how are we going to get $11,000 again? That was a lot of work. Writing all those messages, getting all those people together, getting the space and everything, so we thought maybe we should look for some help outside of us and a Facebook group. We all did 24 hours of work that day, space, gear, I don’t know how many hours leading up to it was spent on getting people involved, added, and joining. But it was more effective than we ever thought it would be. We wanted to do it again, but we knew we had to work smarter and get help from the right people, bigger organizations than just our Facebook group involved. JG: How did you go about doing that? CC: [We had someone talk with Rick Heaton and Doc at Extra Life] and heard about the Guilds. We said, man we need a Guild. We need a connection to something that can work directly with the hospital, spread awareness through all sorts of things, just pull all these pieces together. We need a Guild. Elijah, through the 2014 event, he did it personally, I did it with a group – I was the second ranked fundraiser, but he beat me personally by himself. EP: Yeah and that’s one of the biggest – when you tell people that you are doing this Extra Life thing they ask, “Where am I supposed to find the money?” I’m answer, “I don’t want you to give me the money. That’s not what I am asking. Just ask other people for money.” That’s all I did. I signed up almost exactly two months before the event and it was twice a day I would spam Facebook saying, “Guys, the only way to get me to shut up is by donating so either donate or block me, but it isn’t going to stop coming.” So friends and family and coworkers some cash donations- CC: He broke $2,000 in a very personal way, not taking any shortcuts at all. The legitimate-connection-to-friends-and-family-way and that was hardcore. I was really impressed because I have all these people that I’m not really personally attached to in any way- they are in my facebook group and maybe we talk about games here or there, but I don’t know their life and I’ve never met some of them. I spammed out ten times as many messages, but he still beat me and that was incredible. It was really awesome that he was able to do that. We did a big check thing and that was a big turning point. We talked to a local company to do a big, fake check to symbolize that we went and raised $11,000 because, although we did it and it was online- the people that were there knew about it, but no one else knew about it. And we want everyone to know what happened. The fact that it happened was great, but we should ride off of that so that next year it is even bigger when people know about it and they can get ready to be there and be part of it. We took the check, took about five of us and scheduled a meeting with our rep at CMNH here in Anchorage. We went over there with the big check and they had never met us before. We wanted to symbolically give this to them and maybe shake hands. Maybe have the press come and takes a picture and let people know this happened. Because a lot of gamers out there weren’t a part of this. They didn’t know and they could have been. So we showed up and I think it sent a really serious vibe that we were committed to this and wanted to do it again. We weren’t just a fly-by-night operation. […] It was like February 2015 that we officially became an Anchorage guild. We were super stoked about that. EP: What’s shocking is how easy they make it to become a guild. I think it is 100 participants donate $100. For us, I think we had well over that. CC: Our first year we had 88 participants, but our average- I don’t know about statewide EP: Statewide was a little bit more, $200 or $300 maybe. We ended with $31,000 at the end of 2014 which was coming from 2013 when I think we raised $500 in our entire state. What that tells me is that somebody was participating in Extra Life, but nobody knew about Extra Life, nobody was getting the word out. We went into the Guild thing not knowing what the hell it was, then going into 2015 having all these different people showing up. JG: The hospital can be such a huge resource. EP: Yeah, absolutely. 907 Gamers, since they are the biggest Facebook group in Alaska, Cameron is able to reach out to every one of those people and it is kinda cool that we get to see new faces every time we meet as a Guild so we can share our message; share what we are doing because I am sure there are half a dozen people in between now and last year that say, “Man, what the hell is this Extra Life thing? Maybe I’ll go to the Guild meeting and figure out what it is all about.” CC: We had lots of people come that we didn’t know about coming to say, “Hey, I work for this bottling company and I can bring Rockstar for you guys.” Cool! And another said, “I have a snowboard to give away.” Oh, wow! I didn’t know we had that. We just all these people just come out of the woodwork. By the time we had our event we had a 24 hour schedule of DJs willing to donate their time to DJ for sets. We had something like 20 sets from 18 artists. JG: These are just people who showed up to your guild meetings? CC: Yeah and I reached out to some people that organized the EDM scene in Alaska, which is a very tightknit community and said, “We are doing this gamer thing and we would like DJs to come,” and then those people would go through their network. EP: I think Extra Life really brought everyone together to let everyone know that we are all pushing toward the same goal. It’s not 907 Gamers vs Magic: The Gathering vs the boardgamers. We are all Extra Life. This is what we are doing and this is what we are doing it for. CC: [Our meetings] are just an open hub that happens every month that’s in the hospital. Anyone should feel welcome to come to the local hospital and come to the Guild meeting and talk. They don’t have to be invited or know someone. This is a public event seeking public help from anyone. They can walk in. Not only that, having our hospital connection from the Guild, we know how to say, “Hey, you want to donate as Rockstar? Here is the person to talk to from the hospital and you can become a sponsor. Just go through them, we don’t deal with that.” Then they do it. It’s super easy and then they are at the event. Rockstar is at the event. That’s so cool. As 907 Gamers that would never be possible. EP: Or as Joe Shmo down the road trying to organize his own thing that wouldn’t be possible, but because we have Extra Life to bring us all together that’s opened up huge avenues for us. CC: Yeah, what has ended up happening is this hybrid machine that you have the big grass roots group pushing into and then you have anyone else that’s a corporation or other group or whatever going through the Guild and we all show up at the same thing and put on this huge show. In 2015 we went from fundraising around $30,000 to $200,000. We had a huge 24 hour event. We had to turn people away we had two generators- EP: We probably had 300-400 people show up to our event. And we had to turn away half of those because we couldn’t provide the power. CC: Our Facebook event invite was just growing and growing as the months went by. It was going to be like a stampede. We started promoting the event about three months prior. Oh man, we have 200 people now, this is getting pretty crazy. Last year was 86, so I hope not all of these people come. More and more piled up; 300, 400, 500 going. JG: Was this in the same space as the previous year, the studio? EP: No, no, no, this time we took over an entire stadium. [Laughs] The Children’s Hospital Providence has close ties to Alaska Airlines and Alaska Airlines just built this gigantic arena for the college and we were actually able to take over half the entire thing. CC: They had an auxiliary gym and that was a big step from our last event. Our last event was a long, industrial car garage and now we are in a full gym. Even with that huge jump in square feet by maybe a factor of fifteen or twenty in size we still sent hundreds of people away. We didn’t have the power for that. They dropped a 750 kilowatt generator, which is equivalent to the hospital that I was working at the time; they had a backup that kicks in if the power goes out. We had a hospital-sized generator there plus another smaller one, a 250, and the building and it wasn’t enough power. So we had an absolute slam, a tidal wave of people show up. And we can grow this. In this same event space- in the main area we have upper seating and lower seating and a giant basketball court for volleyball, basketball, college sports, a jumbotron sitting up top. That’s where we need to be next year. EP: Alaska is kind of unique because there are no conventions. There is no place for people to go to experience something like this. For us to provide that to people, that helps to boost the participation with Extra Life. If people have that thing to come to then maybe they are more willing to help out with our cause. CC: Extra Life is a new charity. A lot of people have no conception of what it is when you ask them to join. If you ask someone to donate to breast awareness, they have no affiliation with that. But when we put on this huge event and you see a video of it, you are like, Holy crap! How did I miss this? I am going to this next year, you know what I mean? People came from Fairbanks. That’s a six hour drive that people were making to come to this. And now every year that we put out a video that shows what we did it just grows. This year we started our team January 10, right at the beginning of the year. We set up automated posts for our Facebook to once a week say, “hey we are doing Extra Life this year please take the time to join.” Took a lot of extra steps compared to three months of promotion we have a full year now. Hopefully we can get a bigger space and do an even bigger event and continue to push that. I think it gives us a step up on the every other charity in Alaska because nothing is going on with those. Everyone wants to be a part of Extra Life. JG: With this last event, did you also have another space for people just to send out emails? CC: People set up their computers, so we had a huge row of probably 150 desktop computers set up for gaming, but any time when they are bored of their game or their tournament bracket is over, we’d be on the mic asking for people to please tweet, share, use their phone, take a video, post it anywhere, post a donation link to your profile. It was just incredible. Leading up to that event- as we got closer and closer, we were getting thousands of dollars every ten hours or something. We weren’t even at the event yet. By the time we got to the event we were already at $50,000 plus. The event was so big that our local ISP showed up and said, “This is so cool that this is all running on our network and all these computers are playing and all these Xboxes are connecting to GCI. Man, this is so cool!” And the VP of the ISP says, “We are going to match it up to $50,000.” So suddenly our $50,000 starts blowing out last years. We just doubled it in an instant by talking to one guy. Oh my god. Now we are in the running for the ESA check now we can win $30,000 because we are the per capita winners right now. It just attracted a lot of attention. It was unreal. JG: What do you think makes the difference between the Alaska program you have going on here and other places that have been struggling to blow up like this? CC: I can go through a list of them. One, 907 Gamers as a Facebook group is just like other Facebook groups with members and people who play, but there is a very talented team behind it that puts these events on. So, we have experience putting the events on far before we ever got involved in Extra Life. There is a huge almost-free employee network that exists for Extra Life now where we come and put these on. We have a union electrician. We have like five networking IT pros that have worked in the State government and banks – they are very professional. We have me with the social media stuff; I’m like a local celebrity now from 907 Gamers. Now we have a guild now which a lot of places don’t have. Alaska is a place where there is not a lot of competition. There is no one else doing this. If we stopped doing it, no one would do it. If 907 Gamers stopped doing LAN events completely, they would just cease to exist because there really isn’t another network team that’s doing that. There isn’t anyone who has teamed up like that before. So there are those things from 907 gamers. On top of that, Alaska is a place that’s extremely dark during the winter. It’s very cold. It’s hostile outside. People don’t want to be out in that -20 degree wind, so a lot of people want to be gamers. That’s also compounded by the fact that in Alaska there isn’t really a way to socialize that well in the winter. You can go to movies… and you can stay home. EP: We aren’t really the hey-let’s-go-to-the-mall-type people. CC: It’s too much work to go to the mall! You have to scrape the ice off your car. It is nice to stay home. But here this is something where, yeah, you have to bring your equipment and stuff so there is a bit of a time investment there, but once you get there if it is 24 hours. It’s like this is going to be a totally awesome weekend. JG: It was worth it. CC: Right. It was worth the investment for all that fun and I think a lot of people, because it is a small community, see people they know involved in it and feel drawn into it through that personal connection. EP: I’ve been doing it, this is my third year now, and I finally got my brother talked into it. I think he just recently got a PlayStation. Maybe I never reached out to him, but he was like “what is this Extra Life thing you keep posting about? Why do you keep doing that?” A little five minute conversation and we got him signed up in under fifteen minutes. It’s just taking the time to explain it to other people. Like I said before, people don’t know what it is. JG: One last question: What advice would you give to other places that maybe don’t have the same climate or have more diverse groups? EP: Just have the conversation. Extra Life doesn’t work by itself. It strictly relies on you going out to your friends, your family, encouraging them to get involved and then encouraging them to tell other people. Or even just going to complete strangers! You have to have the conversation because without the conversation you really aren’t going to go anywhere. You have to talk. CC: I think my advice would be: There already is an organization out there, generally, whether people know about it or not. Like, 907 Gamers was there, we just didn’t know about Extra Life. So you just need to connect. When the connection happened we found our cause. I guarantee there are other people out there that have not found their cause. Gamers, in general, they get in communities. You see gamer communities all over the internet, whether it is Destiny clans or World of Warcraft guilds, they just are there. It is just a matter of connecting them to Extra Life. They are already an organization that recruits; you already pretty much have what you need right there. You just need to inject Extra Life and ask “Would you like to do that with us?” Twitch streamers already recruit followers, you know what I mean? Gamers do that already. With other charities- you might have a runner. Runners don’t recruit, not really. Gaming already has organizations that you can use. I guess I would say try to unify those and connect them to Extra Life locally. I think every local community wants to help a local cause. ~~~ A huge thank you to Elijah and Cameron for taking the time to sit down with me in the middle of all the United craziness. If you are in Alaska, be sure to check out the 907 Gamers site or Facebook group. View full article
  10. It’s finally here. The day you’ve been waiting on for months. Your gaming frenzy. Your chance to act like a giddy teenager and play video games for hours on end. You haven’t been able to do this since college, but at last you’ve got permission from your spouse and by golly you’re going to do it. 24 hours of pure bliss. No kids, no interruptions. It’s just you and your pixels on a mission to fill your face with more gaming than you can handle. So, are you interested in doing it right? You should be. Why? Because gaming for hours on end, despite how fun it may be, can be hazardous to your health if you don’t do it the right way - the healthy way. Marathon video game sessions can come in many different flavors. Maybe it’s a game launch for a title you’ve been excited about for years. Maybe you’re part of a hardcore squad of raiders that wants to race to attain the “server first” title on newly released content. Or maybe you’re like me and you participate in charity marathons for your favorite cause. Whatever your motivation may be, video game marathons are definitely a thing and they’re not going away any time soon. If you’ve followed my exploits at all, you probably know I’m a huge supporter of the Extra Life charity. Extra Life is a non-profit run through the Children’s Miracle Network. Basically, it’s a 24-hour gaming marathon held each year where you gather sponsors, participate in the marathon and raise money to benefit your chosen Children’s Hospital. Extra Life is no joke. As a matter of fact, in 2013 alone over $4 million was raised for the kids. It’s an absolutely amazing charity run by even more amazing people. Over the years, I’ve escalated my participation quite a bit. One visit to the hospital to see the kids absolutely sealed the deal for me. I will be a supporter for years to come. The marathons can certainly be a blast, but there are some inherent dangers of which you should be aware. There have been a few cases of actual deaths occurring from long periods of gameplay. Sitting for long periods of time have been linked to the formation of deep-vein thrombosis that can result in heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary emboli. Simply put, the lack of movement can cause the blood to form clots in your vessels. These clots can travel to vital organs and cause fatal blockages. This process can be even more dangerous when coupled with a poor diet and a lack of hydration. This can impact gamers in particular due to our sometimes blind ambition to play our favorite games for hours on end and our consumption of crappy fuels and energy drinks. Let’s visit some ways to enjoy your extended gaming sessions without endangering yourself. EAT CLEAN: Eating clean foods while you are gaming will not only provide natural sources of energy to fuel your game, but it will also increase your visual acuity and reaction time. So when you need to land that perfect combination to take down the boss, the right food can certainly help. What kinds of foods are we talking about? Here’s a quick synopsis: VEGGIE UP: The bulk of your food intake for your gaming marathon should be in the form of vegetables, a little bit of fruit, lean proteins and a bit of good fats. NATURAL CARBOHYDRATES ARE BEST: Stay away from carbohydrates in the form of breads, pasta and rice. They will cause your insulin levels to spike and make you tired and groggy. That’s exactly what you don’t want in the middle of a boss-fight. NO SIMPLE SUGARS: Stay away from things like candy, cakes, muffins, ice cream, pies and sodas. They may give you a moment of elation, but soon you’ll be head-bobbing and risking impact with your forehead to your keyboard. FRESH FOODS ARE BEST: Try eating fresh foods like raw carrots, celery, apples, sliced bell peppers, etc. Fresh foods not only pack the biggest nutritional punch, but the crunch helps to keep your mouth interested. EAT SMALLER QUANTITIES: One key point to make is that smaller quantities of foods can also keep you from getting full and feeling tired. Your body will process smaller meals more effectively, especially with the lack of exercise you’re undoubtedly getting during your marathon! PREPARE MEALS AHEAD OF TIME: Don’t wait until the day of your marathon to start thinking about what you’re going to eat. Chances are you’ll go for the easy stuff- the crap. Prepare the day before so you’re ready to roll. Here’s a great combination of fuel sources to try as meals during your gaming frenzy. Fix a small plate of pear slices, baby tomatoes, carrot slices, broccoli, beef jerky and a handful of roasted almonds. If you prepare several plastic containers with this combination (or mix up different veggies and fruits), you can grab them on the quick, eat them at your gaming station and stay fueled properly. You can also prepare healthy soups, casseroles and mixes that you can quickly heat up and get back in the game. WATER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND: Don’t kill the messenger. But you definitely want to keep away from sodas, juices and one of the biggest culprits of dehydration, energy drinks. In small doses, caffeine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, coffee is actually recommended and can have positive health benefits like lowering your risk of diabetes, upping your mood, and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. But energy drinks are known to pack a huge dose of caffeine and other diuretics such as taurine, ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng. These additives act as stimulants, increasing the effects of caffeine and throwing your body into high gear. These ingredients activate the body’s sympathetic response (also known as “fight or flight”) and contribute significantly to dehydration. So keep away from poor choices of liquids and fuel your body with cool, refreshing water, nature’s hydrating nectar. Another beverage to stay away from: Alcohol. As much as we all love to swig a good micro-brew while we’re gaming, there’s really no place for them in a gaming marathon. They’re going to bog you down, dull your senses and slow your precious gaming reflexes. GET UP AND MOVE BLOOD: Welcome to my Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) avoidance program. It’s a simple concept, just get up and circulate some blood. When you game for hours on end, your blood can begin to clot in the dependent areas. For example, your butt. When your bottom is compressed in a chair, it becomes difficult for blood to circulate in those areas and it has a tendency to begin the clotting process. When you move around or stand up, the clots can then become lodged in vital organs and cause severe damage, even death in some cases. So how do you avoid it? Every hour, pause your game, stand up and do one or all of the following: STRETCHING: • Ceiling Reach: Reach your hands high above your head toward the ceiling and hold for a few seconds. • Toe-Touch: Keeping your hands outstretched, slowly bring them down and touch your toes (or get as close as you can), holding this position for 15-30 seconds. • Head Roll: Stretch your neck by dropping your chin to your chest and slowly rolling your head in a clockwise direction. After a full clockwise rotation, reverse directions. • Quad Stretch: While standing up, bend one leg and grasp your lower shin with your hand. You can balance yourself by holding onto your chair or the wall with your free hand. Make sure your knees are together, then gently apply pressure to feel the stretch in your quad. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, then switch legs. QUICK EXERCISES: • Jumping-Jacks: Not difficult to do these, as we’ve all had to do them in physical education class. Get up and rip out 20. • Push-ups: In a plank position (face down, arms outstretched and supporting your body weight), lower yourself to the ground until your chest is touching the ground, then push yourself back up. Too tough? Drop your knees to the ground to support more of your weight and try again. Do as many as you can continuously until you fatigue. Don’t worry if you can only do a few, you’re still moving blood! • Squats: With feet shoulder-width apart, sit back on your heels and lower your body into a squat position. Keep your chest and head up and your torso tight. Don’t worry if you can only go down half-way. Do 10-20 of these. • Burpees: One of the most effective ways to move your blood. From a standing position, drop down into a lower push-up position (chest and hips on the ground). Push yourself up off the ground and spring your body into a stable, semi-squat position. Then spring into a standing position, causing a small jump as you straighten your body and clap your hands above your head. That’s one. Do 5 of these. • Walk or jog: Take a few minutes and go for a walk or a jog around the block. Heck, grab your dog- chances are they’ll be sore at you for being a lazy lump, anyway. Even a short walk down the block and back will circulate your blood and wake you up. If you’re ambitious, turn that walk into a trot for an even better effect. Choose a few of the stretches and a couple of the exercises and perform them every hour or two during your marathon (or do them all for the maximum effect). They not only keep the blood moving correctly, but they will refresh and reset your body when you start to get tired. This is a critical step in maintaining your body while you game. Take care of your rig, it’s the only one you’ve got! TAKE A BREAK: At some point during your virtual onslaught, your eyes are going to want a rest, as well as your body. So remember to step away from the controller every once in a while. If you are doing the stretching and moving routine detailed above, that will work just fine. Another tip is to focus your eyes on a distant target for a time. When you’ve been staring at a monitor for hours at close range, your eyes will appreciate the break. TAKE A NAP: Here’s the deal. If you are head-bobbing at the keyboard, your body is telling you something. Take heed of your body’s built-in queues and take a nap. Nobody’s going to fault you for stealing some quick zzz’s and if they’re doing the same marathon, they’d be smart to follow suit. I’m all for being heroic and displaying some bravado, but I’d rather do it on the virtual field of battle than forcing myself to stay awake when my body is screaming for a break. Set your alarm and take a 20-30 minute nap during your marathon. It will work wonders. TAKE A SHOWER: As a part of my routine when I game for hours upon hours, I always take a short break and grab a shower. The mental and physical refresh is incredibly effective when you’re getting tired. Want a real zinger? Take a cold one. STAY SOCIALLY ACTIVE: A definite “must” when gaming all day and all night is to not go it alone. Surround yourself with the voices of your comrades-at-arms via voice chat. Even better, have your local buddies do the marathon with you at the house. The live support helps immensely during those late night hours. Focus on group content. That way when your buddies see your character repeatedly bouncing off the wall, they’ll know you need some support staying awake. PREPARE YOUR GAME SPACE: Make sure your gaming area is ready for your marathon. Clean the area so it’s free of unnecessary debris, stock your mini-fridge and fluff your favorite back-support pillow. Assure the lighting is adequate and the air flow allows for good ventilation. Nobody wants to game in a dingy, spore-filled dungeon. KNOW YOUR LIMITS: Gaming for long periods of time can be difficult. There may come a time during your marathon when you just can’t go any more. The smartest, healthiest choice to make in this situation is to know when enough is enough. Take a breather, get some sleep, or go for a walk. Step away from the keyboard. You can always come back to your game later, when you’re more rested. It takes a big person to admit defeat, but it takes a smart person to know when safety should outweigh bravado. Hopefully these tips and tricks can set you on the path to success as you embark on this challenge. Gaming marathons are tough on your mind and body but if you’re like me, you still love them. Especially if you’re gaming for a cause. Just remember that your health and safety are most important. Implementing some, if not all of these healthy gaming tactics can certainly elongate your game, keep you limber, fueled and ready for pure gaming euphoria. Good luck, soldier. ---- This post was authored by Extra Life community member and the founder of MOG Nation Gaming, Mike "Kash" Liberto. Thank you very much, Mike! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a guest author and start submitting today!
  11. We don't always get what we ask for, but we're guranteed to never get things we don't ask for. Yes that's confusing, but its also true. But a lot of Extra Lifers aren't sure where to begin asking for donations, or they make a few social media posts, see no return, and just give up. Well why don't we just fix that right now with 10 things you can do to raise more for the kids with Extra Life! Here we go! Use your fundraising page to send emails Within minutes you can talk to everyone you know, see who answers and donates, send thank you messages, and much more. If you aren’t using the email tools you’re missing out on an excellent fundraising opportunity. Connect your page with social media As part of your setup process, we strongly recommend that you connect your social media accounts with your Extra Life account. This will help you spread the word, ask for donations, and rally your online friends to the cause. Your friends want to help you succeed, and this is an easy way to keep them up-to-date on your progress! Update Early! Update Often! It simply isn’t enough to make a tweet or a facebook post a couple of times and to think that you’ve asked everyone. Most tweets go unread, and I don’t think anyone fully understands how Facebook decides which of your friends get to see things. Plus it usually takes someone seeing your appeal up to 3 times before they’ll even notice it. Jason West, a leading Extra Lifer who plays for Children’s Hospital of Boston and his wife Maria post DAILY, and keep the kids they’re playing for top-of mind for everyone in their reach. Keep it fresh and keep it going. Tell local businesses you mean business! As a human being on this planet, you are basically required to spend money on things. From your doctor’s office to the coffee shop where you get your fix each morning to the dry cleaners, there are people who are grateful for your business, and will be honored to be asked to support your efforts for local kids. Be sure that you tag them in posts and tell everyone you know in your area when they do! Hold a % of the proceeds night Much like my last suggestion, local businesses make their name on what they can do for the local community. Why not ask one to hold a night where a percentage of proceeds go to Extra Life (through you of course). Then just get out there and drive your neighbors and friends in for that night. Have others sign the shirt you'll be wearing for a donation Here’s a fun one. Find a shirt that you’re okay sacrificing, and declare it your game day shirt. Tell everyone this is the shirt you will wear on game day, and for a donation of XX dollars they can sign it any way they want to. Be prepared for a pile of donations and possibly for some suggestive arrows and circles. Hey it’s for the kids! Bake, knit, craft! Lots of Extra Lifers have done this one with great success. Brian in Pittsburgh made some brownies, slapped some Extra Life stickers on them, put them out in his break room with a sign asking people to leave a donation for a brownie, and later disvoered he’d turned about $4 in flour into about $30 for the kids. Now THAT’S a sweet return! Can you craft? Can you knit? Can you groom pets? Use your talents to unlock more donations! You're never too old for odd jobs This one goes without saying. Send an email to your local friends telling them you’d like to come by and wash their car or clean their gutters (be safe!) in return for a donation of their choosing to your Extra Life effort. You’ll be surprised by how far above and beyond people will go to help you reach your goal, especially when it’s all going to stay local for local kids. Say-what-I'll-play This is another popular tactic used by Extra Lifers, especially those that stream their play. Tell your potential supporters that for X donation you’ll play whatever game they want, even My Little Pony Adventures. Be prepared for some serious generosity, and some serious humiliation when they take you up on this. Destructoid’s Jim Sterling did something like this a few years ago where supporters paid to make him sing various ditties in SingStar. 12 hours into it Jim’s voice gave out, but not before he’d raised THOUSANDS of dollars for the kids! The most important tip You might not get everything you ask for, this is true, but you will for certain not get 100% of what you don’t ask for. You have to ask, it’s part of being an Extra Lifer. We put ourselves out there and some people will ignore us, but if we ask enough we make miracles. Our kids can’t quit their fights any more than you can quit asking.
  12. We don't always get what we ask for, but we're guranteed to never get things we don't ask for. Yes that's confusing, but its also true. But a lot of Extra Lifers aren't sure where to begin asking for donations, or they make a few social media posts, see no return, and just give up. Well why don't we just fix that right now with 10 things you can do to raise more for the kids with Extra Life! Here we go! Use your fundraising page to send emails Within minutes you can talk to everyone you know, see who answers and donates, send thank you messages, and much more. If you aren’t using the email tools you’re missing out on an excellent fundraising opportunity. Connect your page with social media As part of your setup process, we strongly recommend that you connect your social media accounts with your Extra Life account. This will help you spread the word, ask for donations, and rally your online friends to the cause. Your friends want to help you succeed, and this is an easy way to keep them up-to-date on your progress! Update Early! Update Often! It simply isn’t enough to make a tweet or a facebook post a couple of times and to think that you’ve asked everyone. Most tweets go unread, and I don’t think anyone fully understands how Facebook decides which of your friends get to see things. Plus it usually takes someone seeing your appeal up to 3 times before they’ll even notice it. Jason West, a leading Extra Lifer who plays for Children’s Hospital of Boston and his wife Maria post DAILY, and keep the kids they’re playing for top-of mind for everyone in their reach. Keep it fresh and keep it going. Tell local businesses you mean business! As a human being on this planet, you are basically required to spend money on things. From your doctor’s office to the coffee shop where you get your fix each morning to the dry cleaners, there are people who are grateful for your business, and will be honored to be asked to support your efforts for local kids. Be sure that you tag them in posts and tell everyone you know in your area when they do! Hold a % of the proceeds night Much like my last suggestion, local businesses make their name on what they can do for the local community. Why not ask one to hold a night where a percentage of proceeds go to Extra Life (through you of course). Then just get out there and drive your neighbors and friends in for that night. Have others sign the shirt you'll be wearing for a donation Here’s a fun one. Find a shirt that you’re okay sacrificing, and declare it your game day shirt. Tell everyone this is the shirt you will wear on game day, and for a donation of XX dollars they can sign it any way they want to. Be prepared for a pile of donations and possibly for some suggestive arrows and circles. Hey it’s for the kids! Bake, knit, craft! Lots of Extra Lifers have done this one with great success. Brian in Pittsburgh made some brownies, slapped some Extra Life stickers on them, put them out in his break room with a sign asking people to leave a donation for a brownie, and later disvoered he’d turned about $4 in flour into about $30 for the kids. Now THAT’S a sweet return! Can you craft? Can you knit? Can you groom pets? Use your talents to unlock more donations! You're never too old for odd jobs This one goes without saying. Send an email to your local friends telling them you’d like to come by and wash their car or clean their gutters (be safe!) in return for a donation of their choosing to your Extra Life effort. You’ll be surprised by how far above and beyond people will go to help you reach your goal, especially when it’s all going to stay local for local kids. Say-what-I'll-play This is another popular tactic used by Extra Lifers, especially those that stream their play. Tell your potential supporters that for X donation you’ll play whatever game they want, even My Little Pony Adventures. Be prepared for some serious generosity, and some serious humiliation when they take you up on this. Destructoid’s Jim Sterling did something like this a few years ago where supporters paid to make him sing various ditties in SingStar. 12 hours into it Jim’s voice gave out, but not before he’d raised THOUSANDS of dollars for the kids! The most important tip You might not get everything you ask for, this is true, but you will for certain not get 100% of what you don’t ask for. You have to ask, it’s part of being an Extra Lifer. We put ourselves out there and some people will ignore us, but if we ask enough we make miracles. Our kids can’t quit their fights any more than you can quit asking. View full article
  13. It’s finally here. The day you’ve been waiting on for months. Your gaming frenzy. Your chance to act like a giddy teenager and play video games for hours on end. You haven’t been able to do this since college, but at last you’ve got permission from your spouse and by golly you’re going to do it. 24 hours of pure bliss. No kids, no interruptions. It’s just you and your pixels on a mission to fill your face with more gaming than you can handle. So, are you interested in doing it right? You should be. Why? Because gaming for hours on end, despite how fun it may be, can be hazardous to your health if you don’t do it the right way - the healthy way. Marathon video game sessions can come in many different flavors. Maybe it’s a game launch for a title you’ve been excited about for years. Maybe you’re part of a hardcore squad of raiders that wants to race to attain the “server first” title on newly released content. Or maybe you’re like me and you participate in charity marathons for your favorite cause. Whatever your motivation may be, video game marathons are definitely a thing and they’re not going away any time soon. If you’ve followed my exploits at all, you probably know I’m a huge supporter of the Extra Life charity. Extra Life is a non-profit run through the Children’s Miracle Network. Basically, it’s a 24-hour gaming marathon held each year where you gather sponsors, participate in the marathon and raise money to benefit your chosen Children’s Hospital. Extra Life is no joke. As a matter of fact, in 2013 alone over $4 million was raised for the kids. It’s an absolutely amazing charity run by even more amazing people. Over the years, I’ve escalated my participation quite a bit. One visit to the hospital to see the kids absolutely sealed the deal for me. I will be a supporter for years to come. The marathons can certainly be a blast, but there are some inherent dangers of which you should be aware. There have been a few cases of actual deaths occurring from long periods of gameplay. Sitting for long periods of time have been linked to the formation of deep-vein thrombosis that can result in heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary emboli. Simply put, the lack of movement can cause the blood to form clots in your vessels. These clots can travel to vital organs and cause fatal blockages. This process can be even more dangerous when coupled with a poor diet and a lack of hydration. This can impact gamers in particular due to our sometimes blind ambition to play our favorite games for hours on end and our consumption of crappy fuels and energy drinks. Let’s visit some ways to enjoy your extended gaming sessions without endangering yourself. EAT CLEAN: Eating clean foods while you are gaming will not only provide natural sources of energy to fuel your game, but it will also increase your visual acuity and reaction time. So when you need to land that perfect combination to take down the boss, the right food can certainly help. What kinds of foods are we talking about? Here’s a quick synopsis: VEGGIE UP: The bulk of your food intake for your gaming marathon should be in the form of vegetables, a little bit of fruit, lean proteins and a bit of good fats. NATURAL CARBOHYDRATES ARE BEST: Stay away from carbohydrates in the form of breads, pasta and rice. They will cause your insulin levels to spike and make you tired and groggy. That’s exactly what you don’t want in the middle of a boss-fight. NO SIMPLE SUGARS: Stay away from things like candy, cakes, muffins, ice cream, pies and sodas. They may give you a moment of elation, but soon you’ll be head-bobbing and risking impact with your forehead to your keyboard. FRESH FOODS ARE BEST: Try eating fresh foods like raw carrots, celery, apples, sliced bell peppers, etc. Fresh foods not only pack the biggest nutritional punch, but the crunch helps to keep your mouth interested. EAT SMALLER QUANTITIES: One key point to make is that smaller quantities of foods can also keep you from getting full and feeling tired. Your body will process smaller meals more effectively, especially with the lack of exercise you’re undoubtedly getting during your marathon! PREPARE MEALS AHEAD OF TIME: Don’t wait until the day of your marathon to start thinking about what you’re going to eat. Chances are you’ll go for the easy stuff- the crap. Prepare the day before so you’re ready to roll. Here’s a great combination of fuel sources to try as meals during your gaming frenzy. Fix a small plate of pear slices, baby tomatoes, carrot slices, broccoli, beef jerky and a handful of roasted almonds. If you prepare several plastic containers with this combination (or mix up different veggies and fruits), you can grab them on the quick, eat them at your gaming station and stay fueled properly. You can also prepare healthy soups, casseroles and mixes that you can quickly heat up and get back in the game. WATER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND: Don’t kill the messenger. But you definitely want to keep away from sodas, juices and one of the biggest culprits of dehydration, energy drinks. In small doses, caffeine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, coffee is actually recommended and can have positive health benefits like lowering your risk of diabetes, upping your mood, and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. But energy drinks are known to pack a huge dose of caffeine and other diuretics such as taurine, ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng. These additives act as stimulants, increasing the effects of caffeine and throwing your body into high gear. These ingredients activate the body’s sympathetic response (also known as “fight or flight”) and contribute significantly to dehydration. So keep away from poor choices of liquids and fuel your body with cool, refreshing water, nature’s hydrating nectar. Another beverage to stay away from: Alcohol. As much as we all love to swig a good micro-brew while we’re gaming, there’s really no place for them in a gaming marathon. They’re going to bog you down, dull your senses and slow your precious gaming reflexes. GET UP AND MOVE BLOOD: Welcome to my Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) avoidance program. It’s a simple concept, just get up and circulate some blood. When you game for hours on end, your blood can begin to clot in the dependent areas. For example, your butt. When your bottom is compressed in a chair, it becomes difficult for blood to circulate in those areas and it has a tendency to begin the clotting process. When you move around or stand up, the clots can then become lodged in vital organs and cause severe damage, even death in some cases. So how do you avoid it? Every hour, pause your game, stand up and do one or all of the following: STRETCHING: • Ceiling Reach: Reach your hands high above your head toward the ceiling and hold for a few seconds. • Toe-Touch: Keeping your hands outstretched, slowly bring them down and touch your toes (or get as close as you can), holding this position for 15-30 seconds. • Head Roll: Stretch your neck by dropping your chin to your chest and slowly rolling your head in a clockwise direction. After a full clockwise rotation, reverse directions. • Quad Stretch: While standing up, bend one leg and grasp your lower shin with your hand. You can balance yourself by holding onto your chair or the wall with your free hand. Make sure your knees are together, then gently apply pressure to feel the stretch in your quad. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, then switch legs. QUICK EXERCISES: • Jumping-Jacks: Not difficult to do these, as we’ve all had to do them in physical education class. Get up and rip out 20. • Push-ups: In a plank position (face down, arms outstretched and supporting your body weight), lower yourself to the ground until your chest is touching the ground, then push yourself back up. Too tough? Drop your knees to the ground to support more of your weight and try again. Do as many as you can continuously until you fatigue. Don’t worry if you can only do a few, you’re still moving blood! • Squats: With feet shoulder-width apart, sit back on your heels and lower your body into a squat position. Keep your chest and head up and your torso tight. Don’t worry if you can only go down half-way. Do 10-20 of these. • Burpees: One of the most effective ways to move your blood. From a standing position, drop down into a lower push-up position (chest and hips on the ground). Push yourself up off the ground and spring your body into a stable, semi-squat position. Then spring into a standing position, causing a small jump as you straighten your body and clap your hands above your head. That’s one. Do 5 of these. • Walk or jog: Take a few minutes and go for a walk or a jog around the block. Heck, grab your dog- chances are they’ll be sore at you for being a lazy lump, anyway. Even a short walk down the block and back will circulate your blood and wake you up. If you’re ambitious, turn that walk into a trot for an even better effect. Choose a few of the stretches and a couple of the exercises and perform them every hour or two during your marathon (or do them all for the maximum effect). They not only keep the blood moving correctly, but they will refresh and reset your body when you start to get tired. This is a critical step in maintaining your body while you game. Take care of your rig, it’s the only one you’ve got! TAKE A BREAK: At some point during your virtual onslaught, your eyes are going to want a rest, as well as your body. So remember to step away from the controller every once in a while. If you are doing the stretching and moving routine detailed above, that will work just fine. Another tip is to focus your eyes on a distant target for a time. When you’ve been staring at a monitor for hours at close range, your eyes will appreciate the break. TAKE A NAP: Here’s the deal. If you are head-bobbing at the keyboard, your body is telling you something. Take heed of your body’s built-in queues and take a nap. Nobody’s going to fault you for stealing some quick zzz’s and if they’re doing the same marathon, they’d be smart to follow suit. I’m all for being heroic and displaying some bravado, but I’d rather do it on the virtual field of battle than forcing myself to stay awake when my body is screaming for a break. Set your alarm and take a 20-30 minute nap during your marathon. It will work wonders. TAKE A SHOWER: As a part of my routine when I game for hours upon hours, I always take a short break and grab a shower. The mental and physical refresh is incredibly effective when you’re getting tired. Want a real zinger? Take a cold one. STAY SOCIALLY ACTIVE: A definite “must” when gaming all day and all night is to not go it alone. Surround yourself with the voices of your comrades-at-arms via voice chat. Even better, have your local buddies do the marathon with you at the house. The live support helps immensely during those late night hours. Focus on group content. That way when your buddies see your character repeatedly bouncing off the wall, they’ll know you need some support staying awake. PREPARE YOUR GAME SPACE: Make sure your gaming area is ready for your marathon. Clean the area so it’s free of unnecessary debris, stock your mini-fridge and fluff your favorite back-support pillow. Assure the lighting is adequate and the air flow allows for good ventilation. Nobody wants to game in a dingy, spore-filled dungeon. KNOW YOUR LIMITS: Gaming for long periods of time can be difficult. There may come a time during your marathon when you just can’t go any more. The smartest, healthiest choice to make in this situation is to know when enough is enough. Take a breather, get some sleep, or go for a walk. Step away from the keyboard. You can always come back to your game later, when you’re more rested. It takes a big person to admit defeat, but it takes a smart person to know when safety should outweigh bravado. Hopefully these tips and tricks can set you on the path to success as you embark on this challenge. Gaming marathons are tough on your mind and body but if you’re like me, you still love them. Especially if you’re gaming for a cause. Just remember that your health and safety are most important. Implementing some, if not all of these healthy gaming tactics can certainly elongate your game, keep you limber, fueled and ready for pure gaming euphoria. Good luck, soldier. ---- This post was authored by Extra Life community member and the founder of MOG Nation Gaming, Mike "Kash" Liberto. Thank you very much, Mike! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a guest author and start submitting today! View full article
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