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Found 290 results

  1. Joe Joe is 13 years old. He loves to swim and surf. He's been competing in track and field. His family keeps him active in school and the community by involving him in extracurricular activities and services at their local church. He never gets mad or upset, and he tries to lift up everyone around him. Joe Joe also lives with Down syndrome, a condition his doctors discovered shortly after his birth along with a rare form of cancer affecting his bone marrow. Joe Joe's mom, Kris, loves her son. "He wears us out!" she laughs, "He is an 8-to-8 kid; he is on the go all day." Joe Joe is a miracle kid in every sense of the word. He was born with a rare form of cancer called transient myeloproliferative disorder. This condition can affect fetal blood-forming organs like the liver and bone marrow. This can have wide-ranging effects from permanent organ damage to death. With the help of his skilled team of doctors, Joe Joe was able to recover from the condition and become the happy, healthy kid he is today. While Joe Joe has Down syndrome, Kris believes firmly in the advice she received from the pediatrician who helped her right after Joe Joe was born. "If you want a disabled, sick child, treat him like a disabled, sick child. You want a healthy, active child in society? Then that's how you treat him." Those few sentences have shaped how Kris and her family have raised Joe Joe, letting him live in the world without sheltering him from the challenges he has to overcome. Down syndrome arises in individuals due to a quirk that can occur in chromosome 21, often caused by an extra copy of the chromosome being present in their DNA. This extra genetic material can result in a divergence in brain development, facial structure, as well as certain developmental delays. Though they might face certain difficulties, individuals who have Down syndrome live lives very similar to those who don't have it. Those with Down syndrome have personalities, interests, and talents, with the ability to learn the same skills as people born without Down syndrome. You can watch Kris and Joe Joe on the reality series produced by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals called Real Moms. The twelve episode series follows the lives of several moms out in the world as they raise kids who deal with life-altering medical complications. The series premiered earlier this year and you can watch the entire run on YouTube for free. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Joe Joe is 13 years old. He loves to swim and surf. He's been competing in track and field. His family keeps him active in school and the community by involving him in extracurricular activities and services at their local church. He never gets mad or upset, and he tries to lift up everyone around him. Joe Joe also lives with Down syndrome, a condition his doctors discovered shortly after his birth along with a rare form of cancer affecting his bone marrow. Joe Joe's mom, Kris, loves her son. "He wears us out!" she laughs, "He is an 8-to-8 kid; he is on the go all day." Joe Joe is a miracle kid in every sense of the word. He was born with a rare form of cancer called transient myeloproliferative disorder. This condition can affect fetal blood-forming organs like the liver and bone marrow. This can have wide-ranging effects from permanent organ damage to death. With the help of his skilled team of doctors, Joe Joe was able to recover from the condition and become the happy, healthy kid he is today. While Joe Joe has Down syndrome, Kris believes firmly in the advice she received from the pediatrician who helped her right after Joe Joe was born. "If you want a disabled, sick child, treat him like a disabled, sick child. You want a healthy, active child in society? Then that's how you treat him." Those few sentences have shaped how Kris and her family have raised Joe Joe, letting him live in the world without sheltering him from the challenges he has to overcome. Down syndrome arises in individuals due to a quirk that can occur in chromosome 21, often caused by an extra copy of the chromosome being present in their DNA. This extra genetic material can result in a divergence in brain development, facial structure, as well as certain developmental delays. Though they might face certain difficulties, individuals who have Down syndrome live lives very similar to those who don't have it. Those with Down syndrome have personalities, interests, and talents, with the ability to learn the same skills as people born without Down syndrome. You can watch Kris and Joe Joe on the reality series produced by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals called Real Moms. The twelve episode series follows the lives of several moms out in the world as they raise kids who deal with life-altering medical complications. The series premiered earlier this year and you can watch the entire run on YouTube for free. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. TwitchCon has come and gone leaving all of us with unforgettable memories and marking some impressive achievements for the Extra Life community. Thousands of TwitchCon attendees descended upon the San Diego Convention Center and were exposed to Extra Life. Hundreds flocked to the booth and the human claw machine to sign up to support their local hospital. It was an incredibly moving experience that left everyone involved with memories that will last for years to come. The Human Claw Machine represented a major part of Extra Life's presence at TwitchCon 2019. A giant contraption capable of lifting attendees and lowering them into a pit full of mystery prizes, it definitely drew a crowd of both experienced Extra Lifers and curious newbies. One of the people who stopped by was Ryan from Flocker.tv, one of Extra Life's sponsors. Ryan has five years of Extra Life under his belt and raises funds for The Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, a place that gave him a life-saving heart surgery when he was a kid. He was one of the people who helped make Extra Life North a resounding success, too! While we were at TwitchCon, it was an honor for our Community Director, Lou Adducci, to appear as a guest in an interview on Cheddar Esports, a live gaming news show that airs on Twitch. You can catch the segment on Twitter and hear Lou talk about how amazing The Human Claw Machine is in person. As part of a collaboration with Astro Gaming, Extra Life gave away codes for Astro's line of headsets. Winners were sent emails with codes and a link to use when redeeming the headsets online. If you were one of the lucky winners and are having trouble with either receiving your code or its redemption, our support team has a few steps to follow: If you won and haven't been able to locate your code, check your spam folder. Unfortunately, some of our notifications to winners have gotten stuck in the spam folder. If the code hasn't been caught by the spam filter, please reach out via email to support@extra-life.org. We'll have someone look into your issue as fast as we can. If you have your code and are encountering difficulty in redeeming your prize, support@extra-life.org should be your go-to solution. In your email, include the email address you gave to the redemption kiosk, the code in question, the URL they are using to redeem their prize, and a description of the issue. Thank you to all of our partners for helping us to give our community an unforgettable TwitchCon experience and bring even more people to the cause. It was incredible seeing everyone working together to bring Extra Life to as many people as possible. Let's keep going forward and gaming For The Kids! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  4. TwitchCon has come and gone leaving all of us with unforgettable memories and marking some impressive achievements for the Extra Life community. Thousands of TwitchCon attendees descended upon the San Diego Convention Center and were exposed to Extra Life. Hundreds flocked to the booth and the human claw machine to sign up to support their local hospital. It was an incredibly moving experience that left everyone involved with memories that will last for years to come. The Human Claw Machine represented a major part of Extra Life's presence at TwitchCon 2019. A giant contraption capable of lifting attendees and lowering them into a pit full of mystery prizes, it definitely drew a crowd of both experienced Extra Lifers and curious newbies. One of the people who stopped by was Ryan from Flocker.tv, one of Extra Life's sponsors. Ryan has five years of Extra Life under his belt and raises funds for The Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, a place that gave him a life-saving heart surgery when he was a kid. He was one of the people who helped make Extra Life North a resounding success, too! While we were at TwitchCon, it was an honor for our Community Director, Lou Adducci, to appear as a guest in an interview on Cheddar Esports, a live gaming news show that airs on Twitch. You can catch the segment on Twitter and hear Lou talk about how amazing The Human Claw Machine is in person. As part of a collaboration with Astro Gaming, Extra Life gave away codes for Astro's line of headsets. Winners were sent emails with codes and a link to use when redeeming the headsets online. If you were one of the lucky winners and are having trouble with either receiving your code or its redemption, our support team has a few steps to follow: If you won and haven't been able to locate your code, check your spam folder. Unfortunately, some of our notifications to winners have gotten stuck in the spam folder. If the code hasn't been caught by the spam filter, please reach out via email to support@extra-life.org. We'll have someone look into your issue as fast as we can. If you have your code and are encountering difficulty in redeeming your prize, support@extra-life.org should be your go-to solution. In your email, include the email address you gave to the redemption kiosk, the code in question, the URL they are using to redeem their prize, and a description of the issue. Thank you to all of our partners for helping us to give our community an unforgettable TwitchCon experience and bring even more people to the cause. It was incredible seeing everyone working together to bring Extra Life to as many people as possible. Let's keep going forward and gaming For The Kids! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  5. Tomorrow, thousands will descend upon the San Diego Convention Center for TwitchCon, the streaming platform's yearly celebration of its talented and creative community. TwitchCon 2019 will take place September 27-29. Extra Life will be there representing the best the gaming community can offer in the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. DonorDrive provides a platform to power the most used charity streaming programs. At this year's TwitchCon, they have partnered with the convention to create a space for attendees to learn about how they can raise funds for the charities that are nearest and dearest to their hearts. As part of the DonorDrive Charity Arcade, Extra Life will be at TwitchCon to show everyone how to harness streaming to support sick and injured kids in their local hospitals. As part of the draw to Extra Life's area of the show floor, one of our most popular booth attractions will be make a reappearance: The Human Claw Machine! With prizes donated by sponsors from across the industry, attendees will be able to line up and strap in to be dunked into a giant pit of awesome and mysterious prizes. The device drew record numbers to Extra Life's booth at this year's E3, so we figured we'd break it back out for TwitchCon 2019! "This year, we will bring our human claw machine to TwitchCon 2019 in the DonorDrive Charity Arcade," said Extra Life's Managing Director Mike Kinney. "TwitchCon attendees can try their luck for free loot as they are harnessed onto a crane-like device and dipped into a pit of games, collectibles and gaming accessories from several of our sponsors and partners." TwitchCon 2019 will be one of the biggest events Twitch has ever thrown. Lil Nas X will headline the show while attendees enjoy their favorite streamers appearing in gaming tournaments, educational talks, and open panel discussions that will tackle a variety of topics. There will also be a significant floor presence for merchandise, meet-and-greets, and convention specific events. It's going to be a fantastic time and we really hope that we'll be seeing you stop by the Extra Life booth in the DonorDrive Charity Arcade to say hello and give the Human Claw Machine a try! Let's keep pushing on toward Game Day together, For The Kids. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  6. Tomorrow, thousands will descend upon the San Diego Convention Center for TwitchCon, the streaming platform's yearly celebration of its talented and creative community. TwitchCon 2019 will take place September 27-29. Extra Life will be there representing the best the gaming community can offer in the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. DonorDrive provides a platform to power the most used charity streaming programs. At this year's TwitchCon, they have partnered with the convention to create a space for attendees to learn about how they can raise funds for the charities that are nearest and dearest to their hearts. As part of the DonorDrive Charity Arcade, Extra Life will be at TwitchCon to show everyone how to harness streaming to support sick and injured kids in their local hospitals. As part of the draw to Extra Life's area of the show floor, one of our most popular booth attractions will be make a reappearance: The Human Claw Machine! With prizes donated by sponsors from across the industry, attendees will be able to line up and strap in to be dunked into a giant pit of awesome and mysterious prizes. The device drew record numbers to Extra Life's booth at this year's E3, so we figured we'd break it back out for TwitchCon 2019! "This year, we will bring our human claw machine to TwitchCon 2019 in the DonorDrive Charity Arcade," said Extra Life's Managing Director Mike Kinney. "TwitchCon attendees can try their luck for free loot as they are harnessed onto a crane-like device and dipped into a pit of games, collectibles and gaming accessories from several of our sponsors and partners." TwitchCon 2019 will be one of the biggest events Twitch has ever thrown. Lil Nas X will headline the show while attendees enjoy their favorite streamers appearing in gaming tournaments, educational talks, and open panel discussions that will tackle a variety of topics. There will also be a significant floor presence for merchandise, meet-and-greets, and convention specific events. It's going to be a fantastic time and we really hope that we'll be seeing you stop by the Extra Life booth in the DonorDrive Charity Arcade to say hello and give the Human Claw Machine a try! Let's keep pushing on toward Game Day together, For The Kids. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. Earlier this year, hundreds of people made their way to Florida to experience Extra Life United and meet a few of the amazing children that Extra Life works to help every day of the year. One of the people in attendance this year was Wade Barnes, who participated in a panel on charity streaming while there. The experience he had at that event has left him motivated to incorporate Extra Life into his life - and into the lives of his nearly 1.6 million fans on YouTube. Barnes, better known by hundreds of the thousands of his fans as LordMinion777, wants to do good in the world. "Every kid deserves to be fought for by as many people as they can get," he said to Extra Life. "If we can chip in just by doing a stream here or talking to somebody there to raise a little bit of money to help a kid have a better quality of life, then it's worth it. It's not a big ask on our part." This weekend, Barnes will stream for 8-10 hours beginning on Saturday, September 21st at 2pm EST. The stream will feature a variety of fun audience participation events and donation incentives. LordMinion777 at one point floated the idea of makeup challenges and a period of time set aside for games involving the audience. The current games being considered for the stream include: Days Gone, Uno, Tabletop Simulator (featuring a variety of digital board games), and more. The goal for the stream has been set at a whopping $10,000 USD for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. To give his fans the motivation needed to hit that goal, Barnes has said that he will be willing to bring back his popular Dead by Daylight stream for a limited time. He might even do it on the stream tomorrow if he and his community are able to reach the goal in time. Another special feature of the stream will be playing a modded version of Minecraft called Pixelmon with the audience. Fans interested in playing alongside LordMinion777 can do so by downloading base Minecraft as well as a modding platform called Technic Launcher. Through Technic Launcher, players will need to download a mod called Pixelmon Generations and then join the Pokeninja server and select the Heart Region. Barnes hinted that he might be giving out special keys that unlock unique and otherwise unobtainable Pixelmon in the game. This will be the first stream Barnes has done to support Extra Life, so please show up and give him support throughout his marathon! Be sure to check out his stream on Twitch and, if you can, help him meet his goal of raising $10,000 USD For The Kids. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  8. Earlier this year, hundreds of people made their way to Florida to experience Extra Life United and meet a few of the amazing children that Extra Life works to help every day of the year. One of the people in attendance this year was Wade Barnes, who participated in a panel on charity streaming while there. The experience he had at that event has left him motivated to incorporate Extra Life into his life - and into the lives of his nearly 1.6 million fans on YouTube. Barnes, better known by hundreds of the thousands of his fans as LordMinion777, wants to do good in the world. "Every kid deserves to be fought for by as many people as they can get," he said to Extra Life. "If we can chip in just by doing a stream here or talking to somebody there to raise a little bit of money to help a kid have a better quality of life, then it's worth it. It's not a big ask on our part." This weekend, Barnes will stream for 8-10 hours beginning on Saturday, September 21st at 2pm EST. The stream will feature a variety of fun audience participation events and donation incentives. LordMinion777 at one point floated the idea of makeup challenges and a period of time set aside for games involving the audience. The current games being considered for the stream include: Days Gone, Uno, Tabletop Simulator (featuring a variety of digital board games), and more. The goal for the stream has been set at a whopping $10,000 USD for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. To give his fans the motivation needed to hit that goal, Barnes has said that he will be willing to bring back his popular Dead by Daylight stream for a limited time. He might even do it on the stream tomorrow if he and his community are able to reach the goal in time. Another special feature of the stream will be playing a modded version of Minecraft called Pixelmon with the audience. Fans interested in playing alongside LordMinion777 can do so by downloading base Minecraft as well as a modding platform called Technic Launcher. Through Technic Launcher, players will need to download a mod called Pixelmon Generations and then join the Pokeninja server and select the Heart Region. Barnes hinted that he might be giving out special keys that unlock unique and otherwise unobtainable Pixelmon in the game. This will be the first stream Barnes has done to support Extra Life, so please show up and give him support throughout his marathon! Be sure to check out his stream on Twitch and, if you can, help him meet his goal of raising $10,000 USD For The Kids. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  9. At PAX West this year, I had the chance to meet Kennedy, a Miracle Child from Seattle Children's Hospital. She was at the event with her father, volunteering her time and energy to share her firsthand experiences in one of the many hospitals supported by Extra Lifers across North America. This was something she had done several times over the years after managing to beat the leukemia she was diagnosed with at age 7. The former football player has had to undergo extensive surgeries to repair the damage to her body, but she maintains and spreads a bright, hopeful energy. One of the amazing things about Kennedy has been her long involvement in Extra Life. Not only has she volunteered at events like PAX West, but she is a member of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. That position has set her up to work with organizations like Wizards of the Coast to both spread the word about the work Extra Life does in hospitals as well as raise money. Back in 2017, she appeared on the official Dungeons & Dragons Game Day stream to play the tabletop game live and help the team bring in as many donations as possible. Kennedy was generous enough to step away from the Extra Life booth at PAX West for a few minutes to tell her story. --- Jack Gardner: So where does this all start? Kennedy: I was about seven. I was playing football at the time. Later in the year, I started having problems with my body. I’d have less and less energy by the minute. I wouldn’t feel that great, and I passed out a couple of times. It wasn’t going… well. We went to the doctor’s one day, they got a blood sample, and we went home. About one or two in the morning, we got a phone call saying I had leukemia. We rushed to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. [They] had everything ready, I got both my IVs in with antibiotics and everything. It’s a bit fuzzy, I don’t remember exactly a lot of it. JG: Was that scary? K: Yes, I was very concerned. Because I was 7, I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. Later on, I got my port in, but I was not the best at, like, blood, needles, stuff like that. JG: Trust me, I’m the same way. K: It’s not my thing. I was definitely not nice to my nurses. Screaming and crying was one of the things that has happened… all the time. JG: I’m pretty good at crying, too. K: It’s one of my specialties. We had problems with my port- JG: And what is a port? K: The port is like this little metal thing in your chest which then you access with a big needle with a little thing inside so it’s easier to get blood transfusions - I had those a lot. We had trouble with that because [the port] was moving all over the place so we had to get it removed and put in a second time. Later, I started complaining about my joints in my hips and my shoulders. We got that tested, and it turns out -I don’t exactly know what it’s called- part of the chemo made the circulation to my joints cut off, so the joints died. It hurt a lot when I walked. I had to use a wheelchair. I started first with hiking canes, then a walker, and then a wheelchair. About… two years later it was my three year mark. We saw this surgeon. His name was Chappie. He was willing to replace my hips because no one else would do that to a 10-year-old. He argued with the board all the time because they didn’t want him to do surgery on a 10-year-old. He moved, so that didn’t happen. A year later, I’m finally done with treatment. My last day, I have a bunch of photos, I had a big sign that said "Last Day of Chemo!" A couple months later, my parents were looking at different surgeons that would do it, replace my hips and such. One popped up, this doctor, he and his other surgeon were willing to do both of my hip surgeries. Just last year, I got both of them done. JG: How old are you now? K: I’m 12, almost 13. I’m going to get my shoulders replaced – we don’t know when, but it’s going to happen soon. JG: Do your joints still hurt? K: My hips don’t hurt – nothing else hurts aside from my shoulders. I can only lift them so far up, and I can’t do a lot of tasks with them. We’re working to do my shoulders. I had leukemia for four years. It was kind of a rough time. I missed so much school. I didn’t even know how I was going to pass, but I had these amazing teachers who came to my house and tutored me. Even though [leukemia] had this bad impact, it gave me this good view on how everyone should live – never second guess yourself and just always do something. JG: How did you get involved with Extra Life? K: We are really close with the hospital and everyone in the hospital. It was one of my doctors who said, "Extra Life is a gaming 24-hour thing that you can do. They want to recruit kids and their families to help them out." Me and my dad and my sister applied, so my dad emailed one of the guys and said, “Hey, my daughter had leukemia, and we’re looking at this gaming thing that you have going on. It seems really fun and we would like to help you out with that kind of stuff.” We got recruited – this is my third year coming to PAX and volunteering – so three years ago, they were like, “Hey, we are doing PAX this year, if you want to do it, Extra Life is working there and you can come along." You get a free pass and get some breaks, but you also get to help out children at the children’s hospitals. JG: Do you play a lot of games? K: Yes. I really like video games. Especially multiplayer since my sister likes to play, too. I don’t really have a favorite…. JG: I know for me, it is hard to choose just one favorite, but do you have a top three of your go-to games? K: Yes! I am a really old person, and I like Minecraft. That was the first game I ever played in my life. JG: [Laughs] Oh, gosh, you just made me feel ancient! K: It the first one I ever played. It’s a classic – I’d say it’s my favorite. My second one would be… like… little, free games on Xbox. They’re kinda short? I can’t think of a specific one. JG: It’s hard to think sometimes when you get put on the spot. K: Then probably… it’s not a genre, but I like the games where you can see the work people put into the games. Good graphic designs- even a character model where you can tell how much work went into it. I already like the game. Even one scene can change my whole perspective on a game. I really like people who do really good work and design on a game, really good coding. JG: What’s a scene that’d be an example? K: My sister plays this game called Undertale. She was playing it one day and I saw the opening scene. I really loved it. It was really well done – I felt it was really great. All the character models, her favorite was the little skeleton dude. JG: The skeleton knight and a cape or the skeleton in the hoodie? K: I think it was the skeleton knight? Yeah, the guy with the cape! I think that’s some really good design, so I think that’s really good work. JG: You’re here with Extra Life – what’s it like volunteering here and basically being a spokesperson? K: It’s really fun. You get to recruit other people into helping children and children’s hospitals. Plus, you get to have fun while doing it. You sign up and play games for 24 hours. You can play whatever you want, card games, video games. Hanging out with everybody who has been involved with Extra Life, it’s fun having conversations about video games because… I don’t have many friends who are interested in video games. So, it’s fun to talk about different kinds of games coming out or what they are doing later at PAX or what they are going to do on their lunch break. It’s fun to hang out with people who have the same interests as you. JG: Are there any hard parts that you weren’t really expecting? K: I didn’t know I had to talk to people! I thought you just stood there and gave people stuff. JG: [Laughs] That would be nice. Has everyone been good when you talked with them? K: Yeah, most people. Last year, because I was 11… not a lot of people who would listen to me because I was a child. That was pretty frustrating, but… either way, it’s pretty good. [...] It’s cool to have people interviewing me now. It’s kind of weird! [Laughs] JG: Did you play a lot of games when you were going through your treatments and recovery? K: Yes, I would bring my Xbox and leave it connected to the TV in there. I played a lot of different games on my Xbox. JG: Did you like games before that? K: Yeah, I liked games before that. I never used to have any video games or a console or anything, so I’d go over to my friend’s house and then we’d go play. I think that’s why I like playing games with other people because that’s how I started liking video games. JG: Was Minecraft the thing you played the most in the hospital? K: Yes. Oh! I also played a lot of Overcooked. My younger sister got Overcooked for her birthday. We played a LOT of Overcooked. A lot of Minecraft. A lot of free games. There was also a game room where you can grab video games or different kinds of board games that you can grab and bring up to your room. JG: What’s been your takeaway from events like PAX? K: I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who want to help support children or just anything? But you can do it in a fun and good way. You are actually interested in doing it instead of just feeling like you have to because you feel bad. JG: Does it make you feel hopeful that so many people are coming by the booth and showing interest? K: Yeah! And really just how cool people will stop by and be like, “how do we get this?” you explain how you do it and they are like, “well, I want to give back, too!” Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  10. At PAX West this year, I had the chance to meet Kennedy, a Miracle Child from Seattle Children's Hospital. She was at the event with her father, volunteering her time and energy to share her firsthand experiences in one of the many hospitals supported by Extra Lifers across North America. This was something she had done several times over the years after managing to beat the leukemia she was diagnosed with at age 7. The former football player has had to undergo extensive surgeries to repair the damage to her body, but she maintains and spreads a bright, hopeful energy. One of the amazing things about Kennedy has been her long involvement in Extra Life. Not only has she volunteered at events like PAX West, but she is a member of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. That position has set her up to work with organizations like Wizards of the Coast to both spread the word about the work Extra Life does in hospitals as well as raise money. Back in 2017, she appeared on the official Dungeons & Dragons Game Day stream to play the tabletop game live and help the team bring in as many donations as possible. Kennedy was generous enough to step away from the Extra Life booth at PAX West for a few minutes to tell her story. --- Jack Gardner: So where does this all start? Kennedy: I was about seven. I was playing football at the time. Later in the year, I started having problems with my body. I’d have less and less energy by the minute. I wouldn’t feel that great, and I passed out a couple of times. It wasn’t going… well. We went to the doctor’s one day, they got a blood sample, and we went home. About one or two in the morning, we got a phone call saying I had leukemia. We rushed to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. [They] had everything ready, I got both my IVs in with antibiotics and everything. It’s a bit fuzzy, I don’t remember exactly a lot of it. JG: Was that scary? K: Yes, I was very concerned. Because I was 7, I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. Later on, I got my port in, but I was not the best at, like, blood, needles, stuff like that. JG: Trust me, I’m the same way. K: It’s not my thing. I was definitely not nice to my nurses. Screaming and crying was one of the things that has happened… all the time. JG: I’m pretty good at crying, too. K: It’s one of my specialties. We had problems with my port- JG: And what is a port? K: The port is like this little metal thing in your chest which then you access with a big needle with a little thing inside so it’s easier to get blood transfusions - I had those a lot. We had trouble with that because [the port] was moving all over the place so we had to get it removed and put in a second time. Later, I started complaining about my joints in my hips and my shoulders. We got that tested, and it turns out -I don’t exactly know what it’s called- part of the chemo made the circulation to my joints cut off, so the joints died. It hurt a lot when I walked. I had to use a wheelchair. I started first with hiking canes, then a walker, and then a wheelchair. About… two years later it was my three year mark. We saw this surgeon. His name was Chappie. He was willing to replace my hips because no one else would do that to a 10-year-old. He argued with the board all the time because they didn’t want him to do surgery on a 10-year-old. He moved, so that didn’t happen. A year later, I’m finally done with treatment. My last day, I have a bunch of photos, I had a big sign that said "Last Day of Chemo!" A couple months later, my parents were looking at different surgeons that would do it, replace my hips and such. One popped up, this doctor, he and his other surgeon were willing to do both of my hip surgeries. Just last year, I got both of them done. JG: How old are you now? K: I’m 12, almost 13. I’m going to get my shoulders replaced – we don’t know when, but it’s going to happen soon. JG: Do your joints still hurt? K: My hips don’t hurt – nothing else hurts aside from my shoulders. I can only lift them so far up, and I can’t do a lot of tasks with them. We’re working to do my shoulders. I had leukemia for four years. It was kind of a rough time. I missed so much school. I didn’t even know how I was going to pass, but I had these amazing teachers who came to my house and tutored me. Even though [leukemia] had this bad impact, it gave me this good view on how everyone should live – never second guess yourself and just always do something. JG: How did you get involved with Extra Life? K: We are really close with the hospital and everyone in the hospital. It was one of my doctors who said, "Extra Life is a gaming 24-hour thing that you can do. They want to recruit kids and their families to help them out." Me and my dad and my sister applied, so my dad emailed one of the guys and said, “Hey, my daughter had leukemia, and we’re looking at this gaming thing that you have going on. It seems really fun and we would like to help you out with that kind of stuff.” We got recruited – this is my third year coming to PAX and volunteering – so three years ago, they were like, “Hey, we are doing PAX this year, if you want to do it, Extra Life is working there and you can come along." You get a free pass and get some breaks, but you also get to help out children at the children’s hospitals. JG: Do you play a lot of games? K: Yes. I really like video games. Especially multiplayer since my sister likes to play, too. I don’t really have a favorite…. JG: I know for me, it is hard to choose just one favorite, but do you have a top three of your go-to games? K: Yes! I am a really old person, and I like Minecraft. That was the first game I ever played in my life. JG: [Laughs] Oh, gosh, you just made me feel ancient! K: It the first one I ever played. It’s a classic – I’d say it’s my favorite. My second one would be… like… little, free games on Xbox. They’re kinda short? I can’t think of a specific one. JG: It’s hard to think sometimes when you get put on the spot. K: Then probably… it’s not a genre, but I like the games where you can see the work people put into the games. Good graphic designs- even a character model where you can tell how much work went into it. I already like the game. Even one scene can change my whole perspective on a game. I really like people who do really good work and design on a game, really good coding. JG: What’s a scene that’d be an example? K: My sister plays this game called Undertale. She was playing it one day and I saw the opening scene. I really loved it. It was really well done – I felt it was really great. All the character models, her favorite was the little skeleton dude. JG: The skeleton knight and a cape or the skeleton in the hoodie? K: I think it was the skeleton knight? Yeah, the guy with the cape! I think that’s some really good design, so I think that’s really good work. JG: You’re here with Extra Life – what’s it like volunteering here and basically being a spokesperson? K: It’s really fun. You get to recruit other people into helping children and children’s hospitals. Plus, you get to have fun while doing it. You sign up and play games for 24 hours. You can play whatever you want, card games, video games. Hanging out with everybody who has been involved with Extra Life, it’s fun having conversations about video games because… I don’t have many friends who are interested in video games. So, it’s fun to talk about different kinds of games coming out or what they are doing later at PAX or what they are going to do on their lunch break. It’s fun to hang out with people who have the same interests as you. JG: Are there any hard parts that you weren’t really expecting? K: I didn’t know I had to talk to people! I thought you just stood there and gave people stuff. JG: [Laughs] That would be nice. Has everyone been good when you talked with them? K: Yeah, most people. Last year, because I was 11… not a lot of people who would listen to me because I was a child. That was pretty frustrating, but… either way, it’s pretty good. [...] It’s cool to have people interviewing me now. It’s kind of weird! [Laughs] JG: Did you play a lot of games when you were going through your treatments and recovery? K: Yes, I would bring my Xbox and leave it connected to the TV in there. I played a lot of different games on my Xbox. JG: Did you like games before that? K: Yeah, I liked games before that. I never used to have any video games or a console or anything, so I’d go over to my friend’s house and then we’d go play. I think that’s why I like playing games with other people because that’s how I started liking video games. JG: Was Minecraft the thing you played the most in the hospital? K: Yes. Oh! I also played a lot of Overcooked. My younger sister got Overcooked for her birthday. We played a LOT of Overcooked. A lot of Minecraft. A lot of free games. There was also a game room where you can grab video games or different kinds of board games that you can grab and bring up to your room. JG: What’s been your takeaway from events like PAX? K: I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who want to help support children or just anything? But you can do it in a fun and good way. You are actually interested in doing it instead of just feeling like you have to because you feel bad. JG: Does it make you feel hopeful that so many people are coming by the booth and showing interest? K: Yeah! And really just how cool people will stop by and be like, “how do we get this?” you explain how you do it and they are like, “well, I want to give back, too!” Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  11. The only thing better than Extra Lifers coming together to support their local kids is Extra Lifers coming together in record-setting ways to support their local kids. Earlier this month, Extra Lifers from across central Canada descended upon Winnipeg to participate in Extra Life North, a weekend-long fundraiser to help the kids in the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. The event came together due to the diligence and dedication of the Extra Life guild leadership in Winnipeg paired with the assistance of Bold Commerce. Seeing Extra Lifers on the news doing good in their communities never gets old. Stephane Maynard, Bold Commerce's co-founder, appeared on CTV News in Winnepeg to describe the event's mission saying, "Our goal for today is to raise over $50,000. 100% of the proceeds go straight to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. It helps kids in need who are sick or injured and goes directly to whatever the hospital needs at that time to make and deliver proper care." We're thankful for people like Stephane and Bold's Nadia Selby for making Extra Life North possible. The event was originally planned to take place in a sporting arena, but plans for that fell through. Luckily, Bold Commerce was able to step in and offer Extra Life North space in their Winnipeg-based headquarters. That's no small feat, especially considering that Extra Life North was considered by its organizers to be the largest Extra Life event in central Canada to date! Extra Life North surpassed all expectations despite the setbacks organizers experienced. They set a fundraising goal of $50,000 USD. While there was some doubt as to whether the over 235 gamers in attendance would be able to bring in that much, the event decided to shoot for the stars. The total raised by Extra Life North participants now tallies at over $55,000 USD! That's freaking incredible and we are blown away by what Extra Lifers have been able to achieve in Winnipeg. Kirk Veerback, a member of Winnipeg's Extra Life guild leadership, appeared on CBC Winnipeg to talk about the event: It is all about gaming in general. It is not exclusive to video games. It can be board games, card games, tabletop games like D&D. Whatever you like doing, you can do it for Extra Life. It's always nice to get the board gaming folks out to these events and take a break from looking at screens all 24 hours and go play, you know? ... We have a place for power and for you to sleep, but bring your own TVs, game consoles, and whatever you're planning on doing. In addition to the gamers, Extra Life North featured a number of children who have been through Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba as well as the support of numerous Canadian companies and celebrities. The Royal Bank of Canada teamed up with Olympians Jill Officer (Olympic gold medalist and holder of two World Curling Championship titles) and James Lavallée (Canadian Olympic kayak team member) to get them to Extra Life North. The two interacted with the kids and even got in on the gaming themselves! Nathan Beaulieu of the Winnipeg Jets even made an appearance, challenging the champions to some of his favorite games. Finally, Winnipeg's most widely acclaimed morning radio host, Ace Burpee, served as the MC for the event, helping to keep up the energy for the duration of the 24-hour marathon. This isn't Extra Life North's first year running, either. Logan Quatamber, the Champion Child from 2016, has been attending the event over the years, watching it grow. Talking with CHVN radio, he explained what he loves so much about it, "It's awesome to see what all the volunteers are doing. It's just amazing what they put on, as far as the Children's Hospital, and what the outcome is. You come here, play games, and raise a lot of money. It gives me a good feeling coming in here ... even though it's a fun time, it's all going towards something and means something." Here's to many more years of changing the lives of children at Extra Life North! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  12. The only thing better than Extra Lifers coming together to support their local kids is Extra Lifers coming together in record-setting ways to support their local kids. Earlier this month, Extra Lifers from across central Canada descended upon Winnipeg to participate in Extra Life North, a weekend-long fundraiser to help the kids in the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. The event came together due to the diligence and dedication of the Extra Life guild leadership in Winnipeg paired with the assistance of Bold Commerce. Seeing Extra Lifers on the news doing good in their communities never gets old. Stephane Maynard, Bold Commerce's co-founder, appeared on CTV News in Winnepeg to describe the event's mission saying, "Our goal for today is to raise over $50,000. 100% of the proceeds go straight to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. It helps kids in need who are sick or injured and goes directly to whatever the hospital needs at that time to make and deliver proper care." We're thankful for people like Stephane and Bold's Nadia Selby for making Extra Life North possible. The event was originally planned to take place in a sporting arena, but plans for that fell through. Luckily, Bold Commerce was able to step in and offer Extra Life North space in their Winnipeg-based headquarters. That's no small feat, especially considering that Extra Life North was considered by its organizers to be the largest Extra Life event in central Canada to date! Extra Life North surpassed all expectations despite the setbacks organizers experienced. They set a fundraising goal of $50,000 USD. While there was some doubt as to whether the over 235 gamers in attendance would be able to bring in that much, the event decided to shoot for the stars. The total raised by Extra Life North participants now tallies at over $55,000 USD! That's freaking incredible and we are blown away by what Extra Lifers have been able to achieve in Winnipeg. Kirk Veerback, a member of Winnipeg's Extra Life guild leadership, appeared on CBC Winnipeg to talk about the event: It is all about gaming in general. It is not exclusive to video games. It can be board games, card games, tabletop games like D&D. Whatever you like doing, you can do it for Extra Life. It's always nice to get the board gaming folks out to these events and take a break from looking at screens all 24 hours and go play, you know? ... We have a place for power and for you to sleep, but bring your own TVs, game consoles, and whatever you're planning on doing. In addition to the gamers, Extra Life North featured a number of children who have been through Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba as well as the support of numerous Canadian companies and celebrities. The Royal Bank of Canada teamed up with Olympians Jill Officer (Olympic gold medalist and holder of two World Curling Championship titles) and James Lavallée (Canadian Olympic kayak team member) to get them to Extra Life North. The two interacted with the kids and even got in on the gaming themselves! Nathan Beaulieu of the Winnipeg Jets even made an appearance, challenging the champions to some of his favorite games. Finally, Winnipeg's most widely acclaimed morning radio host, Ace Burpee, served as the MC for the event, helping to keep up the energy for the duration of the 24-hour marathon. This isn't Extra Life North's first year running, either. Logan Quatamber, the Champion Child from 2016, has been attending the event over the years, watching it grow. Talking with CHVN radio, he explained what he loves so much about it, "It's awesome to see what all the volunteers are doing. It's just amazing what they put on, as far as the Children's Hospital, and what the outcome is. You come here, play games, and raise a lot of money. It gives me a good feeling coming in here ... even though it's a fun time, it's all going towards something and means something." Here's to many more years of changing the lives of children at Extra Life North! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  13. Today marks the day that Gearbox Software releases the latest entry in their flagship franchise: Borderlands 3. Having missed the opportunity to preview the game at events leading up to its release, I decided to reach out to Allison Kurtz, patient treated at Cincinnati Children’s, gamer and Borderlands fan.. As a life-long Borderlands fan, Allison was kind enough to sit down with me to talk about what makes Borderlands so important to her and others. She also had the chance to play Borderlands 3 back in June and was able to talk about the insights she gleaned from her time with the game. Strap in and get ready to Catch-A-Ride with this fun interview that sheds some light on both the Borderlands series as a whole and the recently released game. - Jack Gardner: Let’s jump into Borderlands 3, a game, I am told, that is created by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. Allison Kurtz: That is true. JG: It’s coming out on September 13th- AK: And my paycheck comes to me on September 15th, so we are going to ride that two day streak like… sadness… JG: Sadness is one of the names of the horses in the back? That’s a reference you kids get right? AK: Oh, if you expect me to relate to the quote un-quote kids – I’m very sorry. I know of Lil Nas X, but all I know is that he’s gay and that I support him on that front. JG: Supposedly he has horses in the back. AK: Well… supposedly. JG: All I know about Borderlands 3 is that it’s a looter-shooter. I finished the first one, a significant amount of the second one. I loved Tales from the Borderlands- AK: Ah, so you have good taste! JG: [laugh] and then there was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel which… I am not really sure what was going on there… AK: It’s sorta like a Super Mario Galaxy 2 thing? Super Mario Galaxy came out. Good game. This was before DLC packs were a thing for Nintendo, so they essentially made more game that was the length of a game. They called it Super Mario Galaxy 2, and they released that. Pre-Sequel uses the engine and mechanics of Borderlands 2 to make a new game out of what was already there. JG: That brings us to Borderlands 3. With that background in mind, can you tell us a bit more about your experience with Borderlands? How did it start? What really gets your attention and gets you excited about Borderlands? AK: That story don’t start off in the happiest place on earth. When I was in 8th grade to freshman year, I was not a happy camper for reasons that are pretty understandable. I was pre-transition. I did not like talking. I did not like being seen. I did not like being heard. So, I would just sink myself into video games. Borderlands 1 was like that for me. Borderlands 1 doesn’t go nearly as wild with the queer content as Borderlands 2. But I played it for hours. I played it for ages and ages. I absolutely loved the mechanics, absolutely loved the gameplay, absolutely loved the design, absolutely loved everything about it. I eventually transitioned and moved on and played Borderlands 2 and it just felt – it’s really hard to explain this – it felt like a world that I had known coming to accept me because Borderlands 2 is when they went buck wild with queer representation. And so that kind of transition that it made along with me resulted in a sort of… I kind of bonded with the game, if that makes any sense? Being in that situation where both things changed it was like, “Hey, same hat. We’re in the same hole here,” and I just felt grateful to have a series that was willing to accept that I exist. Because a lot of the queer representation at that time was new stuff – like people created new properties with queer characters in them. It was really nice to see something I had grown up with embrace queer identities and learn about it as I learned about it. JG: So what in Borderlands 2, you say it had more queer representation, can you talk a bit more about it? What specific parts of Borderlands 2 really spoke to you on that front? AK: The thing is that it’s not front and center. It’s not a big plot point in any sense. It’s just little things like how it is just as common to see a straight couple as a gay couple. Hammerlock has an ex-boyfriend. Some women would talk about their girlfriends, while other characters discussed their different sexualities. It was just… normal. That was really refreshing and honest and helpful to see in a time where I felt like I didn’t have the chance. So that’s how I got into Borderlands and then I just kinda went hog wild on it. I got in because I felt accepted and then the gameplay mechanics – normal shooters bore me which sounds a little harsh, but the customizability of Borderlands along with the humor and very diverse art style and environment really pulled me in. In a way similar to how the fallout games pull me in – at least Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas. Fallout 3 sucked, but that’s a totally different point. JG: Are you just saying that because you saw Hbomberguy’s video? AK: First of all, don’t call me out. Second of all, I had that opinion before he posted that video. JG: You fell in love with Borderlands 2 and then Tales from the Borderlands released. Did you feel differently about the narrative-focused direction or was it more of the same for you? It is quite a departure from the main series. AK: Okay, this is my embarrassment. It took me a very long time to finish Tales from the Borderlands. I just hadn’t gotten around to it because it was right around when shit started getting crazy with vis-à-vis my transition and coming out and everything. So I didn’t have quite as much time for games anymore since I was literally changing everything about myself and my environment. A lot of games from that time kinda slipped by me. Then I never went back to finish them because we got into 2015 and 2016 and got a ton of crazy genre defining games. Things that changed how we looked at games and took up my attention. Tales from the Borderlands just fell by the wayside… until I went to E3 and spoke to one of the writers for Tales from the Borderlands, Extra Life friend The Only Ryann. What he specifically said to me was, “Did you play Tales from the Borderlands?” and I said I never got to finish it, I got too busy. He gave me the most withering look in the world and he said, and I am quoting, “You’re busting my balls here, kid.” JG: Get called out! AK: Yeah, a little bit! I felt like, yeah, I should probably get back around to that game. Before I left he told me, “There is a sad point in Tales from the Borderlands. Please tweet at me angrily once you reach it.” I definitely, definitely went through with that promise. So I played that and I loved it and it was very nice to see Athena, local gay. Also, the soundtrack for that game kicks my ass. That soundtrack jumped out of my computer and put me in a headlock. In a good way. It’s well suited to the style Borderlands 1 and 2 had set up with musical theming. I especially enjoyed how well the ending fit with the beginning song. You would never guess that it was made by a different studio. JG: Thoughts on Pre-Sequel? AK: Pre-Sequel is excellent in my opinion. I enjoy it, but I am biased because it contains one of my favorite couples in video games, Athena and Janey. They’re just very cute. It’s basically Borderlands 2: More. It’s just more content and delves into backstory - I mean it is a prequel - but it delves into backstory and shows off new characters that come back later. It’s a game I very much enjoy even though Claptrap… well, I don’t know how I feel about Claptrap. That’s a thing for another day. That’s a thesis right there. Sometimes you’ll be like, “Aww, poor baby,” and then he’ll say something weird and perverted and you’re like, “Poor baby, stay five feet away from me at all times.” JG: So how are you feeling about Borderlands 3 now that we have talked about all the other Borderlands-y things? AK: I am incredibly excited for Borderlands 3. I love their voice acting choices. They have touched on sexuality a lot in the past but they have never really touched gender, so I am very excited that there is a non-binary protagonist who is voiced by ProZD from YouTube and Vine. He’s an excellent fellow and I enjoy his work quite a bit. It’s very exciting to see him in such a mainstream game. Before, the only game that I know of that he was in was 2064: Read Only Memories. JG: So the non-binary character and the voice acting excite you. Do any of the other aspects seem interesting? AK: The gameplay itself! It’s very excellent from what I’ve played. I played the E3 demo as Moze, and it was excellent. She rides in a big D.Va style mech which I very much enjoyed. It blends the Catch-A-Ride cars from the past games with a summonable ally. You can climb on the back, turret style, like you’ve been able to with every other vehicle. I very much enjoy that you can customize to the max. If you want to be a brawler or do explosives or anything of the sort, you can do it. It’s amazing how customizable it is to me. The visuals are very excellent. I love how varied the character design is now. In previous games when you fought a bunch of psychos, it was the same psycho over and over again. It was cha boi psycho, cha boi psycho, cha boi psycho, cha boi fiery psycho, and cha boi psycho. But now all the psychos are a little different. They have different pants, some of them have hair, some of them don’t. Some of them are actually women now, which makes sense in-universe, but they had never done it before. And the colors. Okay, it has been a couple of months and I did not take notes, but I remember being very impressed by the colors. One thing about Borderlands that I have always adored is in a world of shooter games that tend to keep things muddy, Borderlands has moments where it can get really colorful and wild. The demo I played was one of those areas. In addition, the story seems really great, too. You have two villains who are very hateble and very lovable in the same way. They are equal parts… they are that perfect villain where you want to see them succeed and you also want to see them fail. So you love them and you hate them, you love to hate them. They are very well designed, too and they are very excellent. The four main characters are also excellent. I love how they tie into the past of Borderlands. Zane is part of one of the most gosh dang cursed families in Borderlands history because you kill every member of it throughout the series. We know Moze’s past, but I don’t remember if we have seen her in things before. Flak does what I have been wanting for the entire game series and shows us the skags, like, “Here are some nice bois that you can pet and you are expected to pet.” And I’m like yes this is all I have ever wanted! And Amara is a tall, buff GF. That’s all I have to say about her. I said, when I was at the E3 event, “Oh my god, Amara, my lesbian wife!” out loud without thinking about it. The PR person who was showing me the video laughed and then said, “I think they designed her with that in mind.” I honestly can’t imagine any other scenario, but that's because she exudes strong lesbian energy. JG: What’s your take on the story? You said it seemed good – is that impression due entirely to the villains or…? AK: One thing I can speak on is that I love how past characters are returning and they look different. Borderlands 1 to Borderlands 2, there was a time skip there and they look the exact same. Just the same dudes. But Borderlands 3, people look different. Maya, the siren from the second game, she looks different now and you can tell that a number of years have passed. Lilith looks the same, but that’s how it be sometimes. She’s one of the most, if not the most, recognizable characters for Borderlands except for Claptrap. I just enjoy how the world is changing now. We don’t know too much about the plot beyond the basics being that it has the Calypso Twins as the two villains. They run a cult called Children of the Vault, and they exploit their followers to try and unlock a vault for themselves. Lilith leads the army trying to fight back against them. Though she talks a big game, they have shown cutscenes of her being scared and beaten, so you know that it’s not as easy as she makes things seem. It’s interesting that we get to see Lilith, who is a very strong-hearted, strong willed, strong-in-general individual, get pushed to her limits, and I am excited to see that in full on the 15th, two days after it comes out. JG: Anything you hope to see in Borderlands 3? AK: I hope they show me post-marriage Athena and Janey. That’s kind of a separate thought, but there HAS been a time skip, time has passed! OH, and I totally forgot! We saw Rhys from Tales from the Borderlands in the trailer. Where’s Fiona, my dog? Where’s Fiona? Where’s the love of my life, Fiona? Where have you placed her? If they hurt Fiona, I will personally go to Gearbox and cry. Not to anyone in particular, just to the receptionist. Also, I have a soft spot for any robot that ever exists in any story ever, so Loader Bot better show up. If you tell me Loader Bot died, I will personally die, too. - A huge thank you to Allison for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with me for this silly and insightful interview! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  14. Today marks the day that Gearbox Software releases the latest entry in their flagship franchise: Borderlands 3. Having missed the opportunity to preview the game at events leading up to its release, I decided to reach out to Allison Kurtz, patient treated at Cincinnati Children’s, gamer and Borderlands fan.. As a life-long Borderlands fan, Allison was kind enough to sit down with me to talk about what makes Borderlands so important to her and others. She also had the chance to play Borderlands 3 back in June and was able to talk about the insights she gleaned from her time with the game. Strap in and get ready to Catch-A-Ride with this fun interview that sheds some light on both the Borderlands series as a whole and the recently released game. - Jack Gardner: Let’s jump into Borderlands 3, a game, I am told, that is created by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. Allison Kurtz: That is true. JG: It’s coming out on September 13th- AK: And my paycheck comes to me on September 15th, so we are going to ride that two day streak like… sadness… JG: Sadness is one of the names of the horses in the back? That’s a reference you kids get right? AK: Oh, if you expect me to relate to the quote un-quote kids – I’m very sorry. I know of Lil Nas X, but all I know is that he’s gay and that I support him on that front. JG: Supposedly he has horses in the back. AK: Well… supposedly. JG: All I know about Borderlands 3 is that it’s a looter-shooter. I finished the first one, a significant amount of the second one. I loved Tales from the Borderlands- AK: Ah, so you have good taste! JG: [laugh] and then there was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel which… I am not really sure what was going on there… AK: It’s sorta like a Super Mario Galaxy 2 thing? Super Mario Galaxy came out. Good game. This was before DLC packs were a thing for Nintendo, so they essentially made more game that was the length of a game. They called it Super Mario Galaxy 2, and they released that. Pre-Sequel uses the engine and mechanics of Borderlands 2 to make a new game out of what was already there. JG: That brings us to Borderlands 3. With that background in mind, can you tell us a bit more about your experience with Borderlands? How did it start? What really gets your attention and gets you excited about Borderlands? AK: That story don’t start off in the happiest place on earth. When I was in 8th grade to freshman year, I was not a happy camper for reasons that are pretty understandable. I was pre-transition. I did not like talking. I did not like being seen. I did not like being heard. So, I would just sink myself into video games. Borderlands 1 was like that for me. Borderlands 1 doesn’t go nearly as wild with the queer content as Borderlands 2. But I played it for hours. I played it for ages and ages. I absolutely loved the mechanics, absolutely loved the gameplay, absolutely loved the design, absolutely loved everything about it. I eventually transitioned and moved on and played Borderlands 2 and it just felt – it’s really hard to explain this – it felt like a world that I had known coming to accept me because Borderlands 2 is when they went buck wild with queer representation. And so that kind of transition that it made along with me resulted in a sort of… I kind of bonded with the game, if that makes any sense? Being in that situation where both things changed it was like, “Hey, same hat. We’re in the same hole here,” and I just felt grateful to have a series that was willing to accept that I exist. Because a lot of the queer representation at that time was new stuff – like people created new properties with queer characters in them. It was really nice to see something I had grown up with embrace queer identities and learn about it as I learned about it. JG: So what in Borderlands 2, you say it had more queer representation, can you talk a bit more about it? What specific parts of Borderlands 2 really spoke to you on that front? AK: The thing is that it’s not front and center. It’s not a big plot point in any sense. It’s just little things like how it is just as common to see a straight couple as a gay couple. Hammerlock has an ex-boyfriend. Some women would talk about their girlfriends, while other characters discussed their different sexualities. It was just… normal. That was really refreshing and honest and helpful to see in a time where I felt like I didn’t have the chance. So that’s how I got into Borderlands and then I just kinda went hog wild on it. I got in because I felt accepted and then the gameplay mechanics – normal shooters bore me which sounds a little harsh, but the customizability of Borderlands along with the humor and very diverse art style and environment really pulled me in. In a way similar to how the fallout games pull me in – at least Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas. Fallout 3 sucked, but that’s a totally different point. JG: Are you just saying that because you saw Hbomberguy’s video? AK: First of all, don’t call me out. Second of all, I had that opinion before he posted that video. JG: You fell in love with Borderlands 2 and then Tales from the Borderlands released. Did you feel differently about the narrative-focused direction or was it more of the same for you? It is quite a departure from the main series. AK: Okay, this is my embarrassment. It took me a very long time to finish Tales from the Borderlands. I just hadn’t gotten around to it because it was right around when shit started getting crazy with vis-à-vis my transition and coming out and everything. So I didn’t have quite as much time for games anymore since I was literally changing everything about myself and my environment. A lot of games from that time kinda slipped by me. Then I never went back to finish them because we got into 2015 and 2016 and got a ton of crazy genre defining games. Things that changed how we looked at games and took up my attention. Tales from the Borderlands just fell by the wayside… until I went to E3 and spoke to one of the writers for Tales from the Borderlands, Extra Life friend The Only Ryann. What he specifically said to me was, “Did you play Tales from the Borderlands?” and I said I never got to finish it, I got too busy. He gave me the most withering look in the world and he said, and I am quoting, “You’re busting my balls here, kid.” JG: Get called out! AK: Yeah, a little bit! I felt like, yeah, I should probably get back around to that game. Before I left he told me, “There is a sad point in Tales from the Borderlands. Please tweet at me angrily once you reach it.” I definitely, definitely went through with that promise. So I played that and I loved it and it was very nice to see Athena, local gay. Also, the soundtrack for that game kicks my ass. That soundtrack jumped out of my computer and put me in a headlock. In a good way. It’s well suited to the style Borderlands 1 and 2 had set up with musical theming. I especially enjoyed how well the ending fit with the beginning song. You would never guess that it was made by a different studio. JG: Thoughts on Pre-Sequel? AK: Pre-Sequel is excellent in my opinion. I enjoy it, but I am biased because it contains one of my favorite couples in video games, Athena and Janey. They’re just very cute. It’s basically Borderlands 2: More. It’s just more content and delves into backstory - I mean it is a prequel - but it delves into backstory and shows off new characters that come back later. It’s a game I very much enjoy even though Claptrap… well, I don’t know how I feel about Claptrap. That’s a thing for another day. That’s a thesis right there. Sometimes you’ll be like, “Aww, poor baby,” and then he’ll say something weird and perverted and you’re like, “Poor baby, stay five feet away from me at all times.” JG: So how are you feeling about Borderlands 3 now that we have talked about all the other Borderlands-y things? AK: I am incredibly excited for Borderlands 3. I love their voice acting choices. They have touched on sexuality a lot in the past but they have never really touched gender, so I am very excited that there is a non-binary protagonist who is voiced by ProZD from YouTube and Vine. He’s an excellent fellow and I enjoy his work quite a bit. It’s very exciting to see him in such a mainstream game. Before, the only game that I know of that he was in was 2064: Read Only Memories. JG: So the non-binary character and the voice acting excite you. Do any of the other aspects seem interesting? AK: The gameplay itself! It’s very excellent from what I’ve played. I played the E3 demo as Moze, and it was excellent. She rides in a big D.Va style mech which I very much enjoyed. It blends the Catch-A-Ride cars from the past games with a summonable ally. You can climb on the back, turret style, like you’ve been able to with every other vehicle. I very much enjoy that you can customize to the max. If you want to be a brawler or do explosives or anything of the sort, you can do it. It’s amazing how customizable it is to me. The visuals are very excellent. I love how varied the character design is now. In previous games when you fought a bunch of psychos, it was the same psycho over and over again. It was cha boi psycho, cha boi psycho, cha boi psycho, cha boi fiery psycho, and cha boi psycho. But now all the psychos are a little different. They have different pants, some of them have hair, some of them don’t. Some of them are actually women now, which makes sense in-universe, but they had never done it before. And the colors. Okay, it has been a couple of months and I did not take notes, but I remember being very impressed by the colors. One thing about Borderlands that I have always adored is in a world of shooter games that tend to keep things muddy, Borderlands has moments where it can get really colorful and wild. The demo I played was one of those areas. In addition, the story seems really great, too. You have two villains who are very hateble and very lovable in the same way. They are equal parts… they are that perfect villain where you want to see them succeed and you also want to see them fail. So you love them and you hate them, you love to hate them. They are very well designed, too and they are very excellent. The four main characters are also excellent. I love how they tie into the past of Borderlands. Zane is part of one of the most gosh dang cursed families in Borderlands history because you kill every member of it throughout the series. We know Moze’s past, but I don’t remember if we have seen her in things before. Flak does what I have been wanting for the entire game series and shows us the skags, like, “Here are some nice bois that you can pet and you are expected to pet.” And I’m like yes this is all I have ever wanted! And Amara is a tall, buff GF. That’s all I have to say about her. I said, when I was at the E3 event, “Oh my god, Amara, my lesbian wife!” out loud without thinking about it. The PR person who was showing me the video laughed and then said, “I think they designed her with that in mind.” I honestly can’t imagine any other scenario, but that's because she exudes strong lesbian energy. JG: What’s your take on the story? You said it seemed good – is that impression due entirely to the villains or…? AK: One thing I can speak on is that I love how past characters are returning and they look different. Borderlands 1 to Borderlands 2, there was a time skip there and they look the exact same. Just the same dudes. But Borderlands 3, people look different. Maya, the siren from the second game, she looks different now and you can tell that a number of years have passed. Lilith looks the same, but that’s how it be sometimes. She’s one of the most, if not the most, recognizable characters for Borderlands except for Claptrap. I just enjoy how the world is changing now. We don’t know too much about the plot beyond the basics being that it has the Calypso Twins as the two villains. They run a cult called Children of the Vault, and they exploit their followers to try and unlock a vault for themselves. Lilith leads the army trying to fight back against them. Though she talks a big game, they have shown cutscenes of her being scared and beaten, so you know that it’s not as easy as she makes things seem. It’s interesting that we get to see Lilith, who is a very strong-hearted, strong willed, strong-in-general individual, get pushed to her limits, and I am excited to see that in full on the 15th, two days after it comes out. JG: Anything you hope to see in Borderlands 3? AK: I hope they show me post-marriage Athena and Janey. That’s kind of a separate thought, but there HAS been a time skip, time has passed! OH, and I totally forgot! We saw Rhys from Tales from the Borderlands in the trailer. Where’s Fiona, my dog? Where’s Fiona? Where’s the love of my life, Fiona? Where have you placed her? If they hurt Fiona, I will personally go to Gearbox and cry. Not to anyone in particular, just to the receptionist. Also, I have a soft spot for any robot that ever exists in any story ever, so Loader Bot better show up. If you tell me Loader Bot died, I will personally die, too. - A huge thank you to Allison for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with me for this silly and insightful interview! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  15. We are very proud to say that Extra Life North will be this weekend! The event will take place in Winnipeg at the Bold Commerce headquarters from September 7-8. With the backing of dozens of organizations, Extra Life North has been created to be a focal point for Extra Life in Canada. All of the money raised at Extra Life North will go to Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. Extra Life North has been organized largely by Nadia Selby, Bold Commerce's culture and event specialist. The event will be held inside Bold's impressive headquarters which can accommodate over 235 gamers as well as support volunteers, spectators, and special guests. Between September 7th and the 8th, the gamers who registered prior to this week will be doing their own 24-hour gaming marathon in order to help the kids of Manitoba. While the gamers play and raise money, plenty will be going on in and around Bold Commerce HQ. Ace Burpee, the most popular morning radio host in Winnipeg will be lending his talents to the event. The host will MC the event with 103 Virgin Radio Live broadcasting from the gaming space. Additional guests will be spaced throughout the day. One such guest will be Nathan Beaulieu, defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, will be on hand to compete against a number of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba's Champion Kids (in video games, not ice hockey). The media on hand will even get in on the competition, too! To top if off, the Royal Bank of Canada Olympians will be joining the fun. Jill Officer, an Olympic gold medalist and holder of two World Curling Championship titles, and James Lavallée, a current member of the Canadian Olympic kayak team, will be making appearances throughout the event. Spectators will be allowed into the event to watch the gaming action, talk with volunteers, and see the celebrities. Doors open for spectators on Saturday at 11:30am and close again at 6pm. Doors will reopen on Sunday at 9am and remain open until 1pm. After everyone checks in and gets settled, Extra Life North will kick off with a brief opening ceremony hosted by Ace Burpee. Gamers will begin playing for the kids at 1pm. Food will be provided throughout the event for gamers and volunteers. Special events will help break up the gaming sessions, like Champion Kids challenging others to video game competitions and a variety of yet-to-be-revealed side games. Miracle Kids and their families will also be sharing their stories periodically throughout the days. It'll be a great time to be there for gaming or just to watch! Extra Life North has set a goal of raising $50,000 USD over the course of their event. That might seem like a tall order, but thankfully the event has the support of 25 wonderful sponsors. Bold Commerce, of course, gave the event space and helped organize it. Flocker, a platform that helps streamers and influencers to design merchandise, membership programs, and take donations, is helping to elevate Extra Life North's stream to the front page of Twitch. The Royal Bank of Canada also pitched in to bring high-profile guests and eyeballs to the event. Dozens of others are helping to provide food and supplies as well as other forms of support. Our community coming together to make Extra Life North a success leaves us so hopeful about the future of Extra Life. While the registration for Extra Life North has closed, you can still participate in Extra Life along with the gamers in Winnipeg or plan your own events for Game Day on November 2nd. Join us and help kids in your local area today. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  16. We are very proud to say that Extra Life North will be this weekend! The event will take place in Winnipeg at the Bold Commerce headquarters from September 7-8. With the backing of dozens of organizations, Extra Life North has been created to be a focal point for Extra Life in Canada. All of the money raised at Extra Life North will go to Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. Extra Life North has been organized largely by Nadia Selby, Bold Commerce's culture and event specialist. The event will be held inside Bold's impressive headquarters which can accommodate over 235 gamers as well as support volunteers, spectators, and special guests. Between September 7th and the 8th, the gamers who registered prior to this week will be doing their own 24-hour gaming marathon in order to help the kids of Manitoba. While the gamers play and raise money, plenty will be going on in and around Bold Commerce HQ. Ace Burpee, the most popular morning radio host in Winnipeg will be lending his talents to the event. The host will MC the event with 103 Virgin Radio Live broadcasting from the gaming space. Additional guests will be spaced throughout the day. One such guest will be Nathan Beaulieu, defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, will be on hand to compete against a number of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba's Champion Kids (in video games, not ice hockey). The media on hand will even get in on the competition, too! To top if off, the Royal Bank of Canada Olympians will be joining the fun. Jill Officer, an Olympic gold medalist and holder of two World Curling Championship titles, and James Lavallée, a current member of the Canadian Olympic kayak team, will be making appearances throughout the event. Spectators will be allowed into the event to watch the gaming action, talk with volunteers, and see the celebrities. Doors open for spectators on Saturday at 11:30am and close again at 6pm. Doors will reopen on Sunday at 9am and remain open until 1pm. After everyone checks in and gets settled, Extra Life North will kick off with a brief opening ceremony hosted by Ace Burpee. Gamers will begin playing for the kids at 1pm. Food will be provided throughout the event for gamers and volunteers. Special events will help break up the gaming sessions, like Champion Kids challenging others to video game competitions and a variety of yet-to-be-revealed side games. Miracle Kids and their families will also be sharing their stories periodically throughout the days. It'll be a great time to be there for gaming or just to watch! Extra Life North has set a goal of raising $50,000 USD over the course of their event. That might seem like a tall order, but thankfully the event has the support of 25 wonderful sponsors. Bold Commerce, of course, gave the event space and helped organize it. Flocker, a platform that helps streamers and influencers to design merchandise, membership programs, and take donations, is helping to elevate Extra Life North's stream to the front page of Twitch. The Royal Bank of Canada also pitched in to bring high-profile guests and eyeballs to the event. Dozens of others are helping to provide food and supplies as well as other forms of support. Our community coming together to make Extra Life North a success leaves us so hopeful about the future of Extra Life. While the registration for Extra Life North has closed, you can still participate in Extra Life along with the gamers in Winnipeg or plan your own events for Game Day on November 2nd. Join us and help kids in your local area today. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  17. This past weekend, gamers from all over the world traveled to Seattle, Washington to attend PAX West, one of the largest gaming conventions in North America. Of course, where there are gamers there are also Extra Lifers! Extra Life turned out for PAX West in a big way, coming to the event with a booth, a panel, and moving stories from the kids themselves. The dedicated Extra Life booth has become a staple of events around the United States and Canada. For PAX West, we were set up in a nice corner between two of the major convention halls on the 4th floor of the Seattle Convention Center. The location afforded a degree of protection from the overwhelming noise of the show floor proper, allowing the amazing volunteers from the Seattle Extra Life Guild to have amazing conversations with con-goers. We were fortunate for PAX West to have a miracle child ambassador from Seattle Children's Hospital. Kennedy and her father volunteered at the Extra Life booth, sharing their stories with people who stopped by to say hello. Not only that, but Kennedy was able to tour the show floor and experience one of the most amazing events in gaming. Their help was invaluable in demonstrating the good that Extra Life does in the lives of those it touches. In total, over 700 people decided to sign up to participate in Game Day! That's freaking amazing! This year, Extra Life's Game Day takes place on November 2, so make sure that you've also signed up over on Extra Life. To top off the booth experience at PAX West, we were able to reveal a special collaboration with gaming chair manufacturer DXRacer. They graciously gave us an incredible version of one of their chairs decked out in Extra Life's colors and the iconic gaming controller with wings. We decided to put the chair up for auction to raise some additional money, so please check out the eBay page and place your bids before the opportunity disappears forever in only a handful of hours! A big thank you to KontrolFreek for taking on the task of organizing an Extra Life scavenger hunt, as well. PAX West attendees could obtain a card at KontrolFreek's booth and then needed to visit Astro, Gunnar, and Extra Life's booth to fill it up. Once filled, the card could be turned in for a chance to win a prize that changed daily. KontrolFreek organized all of the partnered organizations to support this event and deserve all our love and gratitude. Finally, Extra Life was included in an official PAX West panel. The talk, titled Gaming for "Charity: Inspiring Through Play," provided an informed look at how to engage communities effectively to gain charitable support for a good cause and how that scales depending on the size of a person's audience. The panelists included Extra Life ambassadors TheOnlyRyann and Deejay Knight, I Need Diverse Games' Tanya DePass, Twitch's Jon Brence, Child's Play's Erick Blandin, and Extra Life's very own director of community Lou Adducci. It was inspiring to see people turn out to listen to all of these talented and important voices in the industry tell stories about their experiences and share their expertise. With PAX West in the rear view mirror, TwitchCon 2019 approaches! On September 27-29, the streaming community will gather for their yearly celebration of their primary platform. Extra Life will be there with the customary booth in order to represent Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, but we will be bringing back one of our most popular event spectacles: The human claw machine! DonorDrive will be hosting a charity streaming area called the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has been selected as one of the premier charities that the arcade will raise money for during TwitchCon. Attendees will be able to grab free prizes as they dangle above a pit of mystery prizes, suspended by a huge claw machine. Don't miss us if you're planning on attending! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  18. This past weekend, gamers from all over the world traveled to Seattle, Washington to attend PAX West, one of the largest gaming conventions in North America. Of course, where there are gamers there are also Extra Lifers! Extra Life turned out for PAX West in a big way, coming to the event with a booth, a panel, and moving stories from the kids themselves. The dedicated Extra Life booth has become a staple of events around the United States and Canada. For PAX West, we were set up in a nice corner between two of the major convention halls on the 4th floor of the Seattle Convention Center. The location afforded a degree of protection from the overwhelming noise of the show floor proper, allowing the amazing volunteers from the Seattle Extra Life Guild to have amazing conversations with con-goers. We were fortunate for PAX West to have a miracle child ambassador from Seattle Children's Hospital. Kennedy and her father volunteered at the Extra Life booth, sharing their stories with people who stopped by to say hello. Not only that, but Kennedy was able to tour the show floor and experience one of the most amazing events in gaming. Their help was invaluable in demonstrating the good that Extra Life does in the lives of those it touches. In total, over 700 people decided to sign up to participate in Game Day! That's freaking amazing! This year, Extra Life's Game Day takes place on November 2, so make sure that you've also signed up over on Extra Life. To top off the booth experience at PAX West, we were able to reveal a special collaboration with gaming chair manufacturer DXRacer. They graciously gave us an incredible version of one of their chairs decked out in Extra Life's colors and the iconic gaming controller with wings. We decided to put the chair up for auction to raise some additional money, so please check out the eBay page and place your bids before the opportunity disappears forever in only a handful of hours! A big thank you to KontrolFreek for taking on the task of organizing an Extra Life scavenger hunt, as well. PAX West attendees could obtain a card at KontrolFreek's booth and then needed to visit Astro, Gunnar, and Extra Life's booth to fill it up. Once filled, the card could be turned in for a chance to win a prize that changed daily. KontrolFreek organized all of the partnered organizations to support this event and deserve all our love and gratitude. Finally, Extra Life was included in an official PAX West panel. The talk, titled Gaming for "Charity: Inspiring Through Play," provided an informed look at how to engage communities effectively to gain charitable support for a good cause and how that scales depending on the size of a person's audience. The panelists included Extra Life ambassadors TheOnlyRyann and Deejay Knight, I Need Diverse Games' Tanya DePass, Twitch's Jon Brence, Child's Play's Erick Blandin, and Extra Life's very own director of community Lou Adducci. It was inspiring to see people turn out to listen to all of these talented and important voices in the industry tell stories about their experiences and share their expertise. With PAX West in the rear view mirror, TwitchCon 2019 approaches! On September 27-29, the streaming community will gather for their yearly celebration of their primary platform. Extra Life will be there with the customary booth in order to represent Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, but we will be bringing back one of our most popular event spectacles: The human claw machine! DonorDrive will be hosting a charity streaming area called the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has been selected as one of the premier charities that the arcade will raise money for during TwitchCon. Attendees will be able to grab free prizes as they dangle above a pit of mystery prizes, suspended by a huge claw machine. Don't miss us if you're planning on attending! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  19. PAX West, the annual gaming convention held annually in Seattle, Washington, will be happening this weekend, and we'd love to see you there! This year, the event runs from August 30 through September 2. We've got several initiatives that will be of interest to people attending the show in person or observing from afar. Here's everything you need to know about Extra Life at PAX West 2019! We will, of course, have a dedicated Extra Life booth at the event. PAX West will feature a stellar area run with the invaluable support of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. Not only that, but Kennedy, a miracle child from Seattle Children's Hospital and member of the Seattle Guild, will be on hand on Sunday with her father to say hello, too. The people working the booth are volunteering their time to register participants, collect donations, and confirm when attendees share about Extra Life on social media. Doing each will net attendees distinct buttons, while doing all three will get attendees a sweet enamel pin. We are so incredibly thankful for our volunteers, without whom none of this would be possible, and our words can't do them justice. If you are attending the show in person, KontrolFreek has organized an Extra Life scavenger hunt! After visiting KontrolFreek's booth to obtain a punch card, attendees will need to track down the Astro, Gunnar, and Extra Life booths to fill it out. Once the card has been filled, head back to the KontrolFreek booth to enter to win a neat prize that will change daily. For those who won't be able to attend in person, there's still a chance to get your hands on something truly special. We have a customized Extra Life DXRacer chair for this event! We are incredibly excited about it. Both show attendees and Extra Lifers who aren't at PAX West will be able to bid on the chair via an eBay. Keep an eye on our social media channels for the announcement that bidding is live! On top of that, Extra Life will be included in an official PAX West panel. The talk, titled Gaming for "Charity: Inspiring Through Play," will be held in the Sandworm Theater. The panelists include Extra Lifer TheOnlyRyann, I Need Diverse Games' Tanya DePass, Twitch's Jon Brence, Child's Play's Erick Blandin, and our own senior manager of community Lou Adducci. The discussion will get into the nitty-gritty of fundraising and community building necessary for people to do the most good with their gaming efforts. The panel begins at 12pm and goes until 1pm. Be there or be square! Finally, TwitchCon 2019 is on the horizon, September 27-29. It's time to start getting hyped because, on top of all the usual awesome stuff, DonorDrive will be hosting a charity streaming area called the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has been selected as one of the premier charities that the arcade will raise money for during TwitchCon. Extra Life will be there representing Children's Miracle Network Hospitals with the human claw machine we debuted at E3 earlier this year. Attendees will be able to grab free prizes as they dangle above a pit of mystery prizes, suspended by a huge claw machine. Don't miss us if you're planning on attending! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  20. PAX West, the annual gaming convention held annually in Seattle, Washington, will be happening this weekend, and we'd love to see you there! This year, the event runs from August 30 through September 2. We've got several initiatives that will be of interest to people attending the show in person or observing from afar. Here's everything you need to know about Extra Life at PAX West 2019! We will, of course, have a dedicated Extra Life booth at the event. PAX West will feature a stellar area run with the invaluable support of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. Not only that, but Kennedy, a miracle child from Seattle Children's Hospital and member of the Seattle Guild, will be on hand on Sunday with her father to say hello, too. The people working the booth are volunteering their time to register participants, collect donations, and confirm when attendees share about Extra Life on social media. Doing each will net attendees distinct buttons, while doing all three will get attendees a sweet enamel pin. We are so incredibly thankful for our volunteers, without whom none of this would be possible, and our words can't do them justice. If you are attending the show in person, KontrolFreek has organized an Extra Life scavenger hunt! After visiting KontrolFreek's booth to obtain a punch card, attendees will need to track down the Astro, Gunnar, and Extra Life booths to fill it out. Once the card has been filled, head back to the KontrolFreek booth to enter to win a neat prize that will change daily. For those who won't be able to attend in person, there's still a chance to get your hands on something truly special. We have a customized Extra Life DXRacer chair for this event! We are incredibly excited about it. Both show attendees and Extra Lifers who aren't at PAX West will be able to bid on the chair via an eBay. Keep an eye on our social media channels for the announcement that bidding is live! On top of that, Extra Life will be included in an official PAX West panel. The talk, titled Gaming for "Charity: Inspiring Through Play," will be held in the Sandworm Theater. The panelists include Extra Lifer TheOnlyRyann, I Need Diverse Games' Tanya DePass, Twitch's Jon Brence, Child's Play's Erick Blandin, and our own senior manager of community Lou Adducci. The discussion will get into the nitty-gritty of fundraising and community building necessary for people to do the most good with their gaming efforts. The panel begins at 12pm and goes until 1pm. Be there or be square! Finally, TwitchCon 2019 is on the horizon, September 27-29. It's time to start getting hyped because, on top of all the usual awesome stuff, DonorDrive will be hosting a charity streaming area called the DonorDrive Charity Arcade. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has been selected as one of the premier charities that the arcade will raise money for during TwitchCon. Extra Life will be there representing Children's Miracle Network Hospitals with the human claw machine we debuted at E3 earlier this year. Attendees will be able to grab free prizes as they dangle above a pit of mystery prizes, suspended by a huge claw machine. Don't miss us if you're planning on attending! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  21. Another Tabletop Appreciation Weekend has come and gone and the Extra Life community, as always, did not disappoint. It was truly awesome seeing you all break out your board games, pen & paper RPGs, and even digital tabletops to support the kids in hospitals across the United States and Canada. Some of you got in some incredible games with your friends and families while others in the community streamed their experiences online. The leading tabletop gamers of Extra Life came up with a ton of great ideas. We wanted to share just a few of them. By far, one of the coolest moments of the weekend were the marathon sessions of Dungeons & Dragons that were streamed out of the basement where it all started. Extra Lifers from the Milwaukee-Madison area came together to host a day filled with D&D fun in the basement of Gary Gygax's home, the place where Dungeons & Dragons came into its own. The sessions were hosted on Extra Life's official Twitch channel and spanned 12 hours on Saturday. The stream starred Larry Hamilton, Bill Allan, Fenway Jones, Grant Ellis, GM Travis, Jason O’Brien, and John Gilbert who were also joined by Alex and Mike Gygax, Gary's sons, for four different D&D one shots over the course of the day. In total, the crew managed to raise over $3,100 USD! They managed this impressive feat by giving viewers the chance to name player characters lacking for $25 USD each. For varying levels of donations, viewers could also grant a re-roll to the players, impose advantage or disadvantage on certain actions, or even turn a roll into a natural 1 or 20. If someone donated $100 USD, the DMs would grant players a magic item. The players had a blast and it was a great time for everyone involved. If you missed it live, you can find links to all of the relevant places to go on Larry Hamilton's website, Follow Me and Die. Olympian-turned-YouTuber Shawn Johnson East streamed tabletop games with her spouse Andrew to her nearly 900,000 subscribers. The duo managed to not only raise awareness of Extra Life to their colossal audience, but they also raised over $10,000 USD. That far outstrips their original streaming goal of $5,000 USD. That money goes to their local hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. To top it off, we had so many of you coming out to play tabletop games for the kids. It was a really beautiful thing to see. Sean Rooney, one of the pillars of our community and #Dominicstrong, turned up to play Root. Tabletop Bellhop organized a play event in Windsor that featured a dazzling number of tabletop games to support Extra Life. Nikki Drake reached the $3,000 USD mark with her tabletop gaming over the weekend, approaching her $3,333 USD goal. LessThanGreg, Greg Davis, streamed for Extra Life over the weekend and showed the community some really awesome digital board games. Did you know there's a digital tabletop version of Tetris that's multiplayer? I didn't! If you can't get enough tabletop gaming in your life, check out the barrage of features, interviews, tabletop games, and more that we put out over the weekend! Need to get out of an awkward Monopoly night? We've got you covered. Looking to up your tabletop game and avoid some of the unintentional racial or gendered assumptions that can sometimes make players or DMs uncomfortable during role-playing? Our interview with Tanya DePass will help you. Love Stranger Things and want to bring that to your tabletop? There are several options out there. New to Dungeons & Dragons and looking to spice up a campaign? We wrote up some modules that might give you ideas. Want to play a fun social card game? Consider breaking open The Red Dragon Inn. Want a fun tabletop roleplaying podcast to listen to during your commute? We released the final episodes of the liveplay campaign that began during 2018's Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. There's a ton for you to check out, and we hope that you all enjoy what we've put together. Thank you to everyone who rolled dice, shuffled cards, or moved around board piece over Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. All of us here at Extra Life appreciate you and the work you do that's making a difference in your community. You constantly leave us amazed. Let's all use this to get our rears in gear for Game Day which is coming up faster than ever. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  22. Another Tabletop Appreciation Weekend has come and gone and the Extra Life community, as always, did not disappoint. It was truly awesome seeing you all break out your board games, pen & paper RPGs, and even digital tabletops to support the kids in hospitals across the United States and Canada. Some of you got in some incredible games with your friends and families while others in the community streamed their experiences online. The leading tabletop gamers of Extra Life came up with a ton of great ideas. We wanted to share just a few of them. By far, one of the coolest moments of the weekend were the marathon sessions of Dungeons & Dragons that were streamed out of the basement where it all started. Extra Lifers from the Milwaukee-Madison area came together to host a day filled with D&D fun in the basement of Gary Gygax's home, the place where Dungeons & Dragons came into its own. The sessions were hosted on Extra Life's official Twitch channel and spanned 12 hours on Saturday. The stream starred Larry Hamilton, Bill Allan, Fenway Jones, Grant Ellis, GM Travis, Jason O’Brien, and John Gilbert who were also joined by Alex and Mike Gygax, Gary's sons, for four different D&D one shots over the course of the day. In total, the crew managed to raise over $3,100 USD! They managed this impressive feat by giving viewers the chance to name player characters lacking for $25 USD each. For varying levels of donations, viewers could also grant a re-roll to the players, impose advantage or disadvantage on certain actions, or even turn a roll into a natural 1 or 20. If someone donated $100 USD, the DMs would grant players a magic item. The players had a blast and it was a great time for everyone involved. If you missed it live, you can find links to all of the relevant places to go on Larry Hamilton's website, Follow Me and Die. Olympian-turned-YouTuber Shawn Johnson East streamed tabletop games with her spouse Andrew to her nearly 900,000 subscribers. The duo managed to not only raise awareness of Extra Life to their colossal audience, but they also raised over $10,000 USD. That far outstrips their original streaming goal of $5,000 USD. That money goes to their local hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. To top it off, we had so many of you coming out to play tabletop games for the kids. It was a really beautiful thing to see. Sean Rooney, one of the pillars of our community and #Dominicstrong, turned up to play Root. Tabletop Bellhop organized a play event in Windsor that featured a dazzling number of tabletop games to support Extra Life. Nikki Drake reached the $3,000 USD mark with her tabletop gaming over the weekend, approaching her $3,333 USD goal. LessThanGreg, Greg Davis, streamed for Extra Life over the weekend and showed the community some really awesome digital board games. Did you know there's a digital tabletop version of Tetris that's multiplayer? I didn't! If you can't get enough tabletop gaming in your life, check out the barrage of features, interviews, tabletop games, and more that we put out over the weekend! Need to get out of an awkward Monopoly night? We've got you covered. Looking to up your tabletop game and avoid some of the unintentional racial or gendered assumptions that can sometimes make players or DMs uncomfortable during role-playing? Our interview with Tanya DePass will help you. Love Stranger Things and want to bring that to your tabletop? There are several options out there. New to Dungeons & Dragons and looking to spice up a campaign? We wrote up some modules that might give you ideas. Want to play a fun social card game? Consider breaking open The Red Dragon Inn. Want a fun tabletop roleplaying podcast to listen to during your commute? We released the final episodes of the liveplay campaign that began during 2018's Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. There's a ton for you to check out, and we hope that you all enjoy what we've put together. Thank you to everyone who rolled dice, shuffled cards, or moved around board piece over Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. All of us here at Extra Life appreciate you and the work you do that's making a difference in your community. You constantly leave us amazed. Let's all use this to get our rears in gear for Game Day which is coming up faster than ever. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  23. Daylight begins creeping through the blinds. Your eyes beg to be shut. Your butt aches. The lifeline of snack food has been exhausted. Monopoly night has claimed you and your friend’s collective souls, and now you’re wondering how to pull yourself out of its abyss. Unfortunately, your buddies still seem committed to seeing the game to its end (if you took hours to capture Boardwalk and Park Place you’d want to milk it too). You don’t want to be the party pooper. Never fear, though, for I’m here to offer some fool-proof tips for ending a Monopoly session in the least table-flipping way possible. Keep Getting Up Until People Get The Hint Whenever someone gets up during a board game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink, it can bring everything to a halt or, at the least, disengages everyone a little bit. Do this repeatedly, as in every couple of minutes, and people will get anxious. Throw in an obnoxious yawn or two while you’re at it. Eventually they’ll feel like stretching their legs, which then leads to the realization that the game has lasted the length of a Lord of the Rings marathon. It soon dawns on them that they promised their spouses at they’d return home at a reasonable hour, especially since they’re already on thin ice after their last all-night escapade. It only takes one person to vamoose for the rest of the party to crumble to pieces. Offer to Suspend the Game Intact for Another Session The group has invested too much time and fake money into this game to see it end without a winner no matter how fatigued they may be. Throw out that you’re tired, BUT you’ll be more than happy to leave the game in its place for a return session. It’s like suspending a video game except more inconvenient (for you). Still, doing so staves off the worst part of any board game: the clean-up. In reality, you’re likely good on Monopoly until the next, next Olympics, so play this card only as a Hail Mary compromise. Otherwise, prepare to spend the next week enjoying all of your meals on the floor if the group takes up the offer. Form Convoluted Alliances Savvy Monopoly players know that sometimes the only way to get ahead is to make deals along the way. Greatest hits include swapping a utility for that crucial missing railroad. Such agreements can annoy other players so dial this idea up to 11. Start by making a deal with Carrie to only charge half the fee for landing on each other’s properties. Then later strike an agreement with Derek to split the $200 Go reward if he’ll waive any fees on his turf. Unbeknownst to all of them, you’ve already arranged for Samantha, the banker, to have her regularly slip you money under the table in exchange for dinner and a movie. What does this George R.R. Martin-esque web of alliances accomplish? I’m not sure, but it’ll probably ruin the game due to the sheer chaos it would cause. Try Switching To A Video Game Video games are the natural predators to board games; the mongoose to its king cobra. Simply put, interactive entertainment is, arguably, more stimulating, takes up less table space, and always has all of its pieces in the box. Instead of merely suggesting Mario Kart or Jackbox, boldly fire up a game during a supposed bathroom break. When your friends wonder where you’ve disappeared to they’ll follow the siren call of digital merriment like a moth to a bright TV. This is another emergency option as it won’t actually get these people out of your house. But hey, it’s progress. Claim A Medical Emergency True story: in middle-school my friends and I were more or less abducted by a neighborhood gang over a now-humorous misunderstanding. They shuffled us back to their “crib” and made various threats until I came up with an ingenious solution. Harnessing my best fake tears, I pleaded with the hoodlums to let us go, claiming I needed to visit an ailing grandmother in the hospital who suffered from an ulcer (which was actually kind of true). To my surprise, the gang experienced genuine empathy and let us go. If such an excuse is good for diffusing potential gang violence, I’m fairly confident it can rescue you from this accursed board game. And that’s that! Now that you’ve escaped Monopoly’s black hole you’re now free to dive into the wealth of tabletop games! Enjoy the rest of the month! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  24. Daylight begins creeping through the blinds. Your eyes beg to be shut. Your butt aches. The lifeline of snack food has been exhausted. Monopoly night has claimed you and your friend’s collective souls, and now you’re wondering how to pull yourself out of its abyss. Unfortunately, your buddies still seem committed to seeing the game to its end (if you took hours to capture Boardwalk and Park Place you’d want to milk it too). You don’t want to be the party pooper. Never fear, though, for I’m here to offer some fool-proof tips for ending a Monopoly session in the least table-flipping way possible. Keep Getting Up Until People Get The Hint Whenever someone gets up during a board game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink, it can bring everything to a halt or, at the least, disengages everyone a little bit. Do this repeatedly, as in every couple of minutes, and people will get anxious. Throw in an obnoxious yawn or two while you’re at it. Eventually they’ll feel like stretching their legs, which then leads to the realization that the game has lasted the length of a Lord of the Rings marathon. It soon dawns on them that they promised their spouses at they’d return home at a reasonable hour, especially since they’re already on thin ice after their last all-night escapade. It only takes one person to vamoose for the rest of the party to crumble to pieces. Offer to Suspend the Game Intact for Another Session The group has invested too much time and fake money into this game to see it end without a winner no matter how fatigued they may be. Throw out that you’re tired, BUT you’ll be more than happy to leave the game in its place for a return session. It’s like suspending a video game except more inconvenient (for you). Still, doing so staves off the worst part of any board game: the clean-up. In reality, you’re likely good on Monopoly until the next, next Olympics, so play this card only as a Hail Mary compromise. Otherwise, prepare to spend the next week enjoying all of your meals on the floor if the group takes up the offer. Form Convoluted Alliances Savvy Monopoly players know that sometimes the only way to get ahead is to make deals along the way. Greatest hits include swapping a utility for that crucial missing railroad. Such agreements can annoy other players so dial this idea up to 11. Start by making a deal with Carrie to only charge half the fee for landing on each other’s properties. Then later strike an agreement with Derek to split the $200 Go reward if he’ll waive any fees on his turf. Unbeknownst to all of them, you’ve already arranged for Samantha, the banker, to have her regularly slip you money under the table in exchange for dinner and a movie. What does this George R.R. Martin-esque web of alliances accomplish? I’m not sure, but it’ll probably ruin the game due to the sheer chaos it would cause. Try Switching To A Video Game Video games are the natural predators to board games; the mongoose to its king cobra. Simply put, interactive entertainment is, arguably, more stimulating, takes up less table space, and always has all of its pieces in the box. Instead of merely suggesting Mario Kart or Jackbox, boldly fire up a game during a supposed bathroom break. When your friends wonder where you’ve disappeared to they’ll follow the siren call of digital merriment like a moth to a bright TV. This is another emergency option as it won’t actually get these people out of your house. But hey, it’s progress. Claim A Medical Emergency True story: in middle-school my friends and I were more or less abducted by a neighborhood gang over a now-humorous misunderstanding. They shuffled us back to their “crib” and made various threats until I came up with an ingenious solution. Harnessing my best fake tears, I pleaded with the hoodlums to let us go, claiming I needed to visit an ailing grandmother in the hospital who suffered from an ulcer (which was actually kind of true). To my surprise, the gang experienced genuine empathy and let us go. If such an excuse is good for diffusing potential gang violence, I’m fairly confident it can rescue you from this accursed board game. And that’s that! Now that you’ve escaped Monopoly’s black hole you’re now free to dive into the wealth of tabletop games! Enjoy the rest of the month! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  25. Ah, August. The bees are buzzing, the birds are singing, and the dice are clacking. Tabletop Appreciation Weekend will be held later this month, August 24-25, acting as an opportunity to remind Extra Lifers across North America that players can raise money year-round and participation isn't limited to video gamers. With the magical weekend fast approaching, we thought it would be the perfect time to highlight a few of the most amazing tabletop Extra Lifers in our wonderful community. On his 6th year of supporting Extra Life, Harrison Guzman strives to use his love of tabletop gaming to do his best for the kids in his community. He plays for Connecticut Children's in an effort to incorporate board games into his efforts to help others. “I started doing research about ways to use what I did with my time — playing board games — for a better cause,” said Harrison told us last year. “Younger people think philanthropy is not something they can incorporate into their lives,” he continued, “but Extra Life lets them know that you don’t have to step out of your comfort zone.” This year, he attended Extra Life United where he was part of the six person team who won almost $40,000 in donations for Connecticut Children's in the gaming tournaments. Stephanie Straw stands out as one of Extra Life's biggest advocates. She works at Funko as a producer and last month appeared on a stream with our very own Lou Adducci and Miracle Child Ethan McKinney. She was able to show off Funko's latest game, Funkoverse, a new strategy tabletop game. Being on the developer end of tabletop gaming, Stephanie has been able to combine her passion for tabletop gaming, Funko, and Extra Life thanks to events like Gen Con and Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. Stephanie and her iconic unicorn onesie have been a hallmark of Extra Life's Game Day events for years, we wouldn't be the same without her. Lucas Fox stands as one of the tabletop gamers who has been with us since the beginning. 2019 marks his ninth year of participation to raise funds for Bernard & Millie Duker Children's Hospital at Albany Medical Center and puts in extra time as the Extra Life Albany Guild president. He and the guild have made it a tradition to go to the hospital and take board games to spend the day playing with the kids struggling to get better. This year, he's trying to make the most of this year to honor the memory of Maddox Hyde who lost his battle with cancer on January 23, 2019. Extra Life is made infinitely richer and better with the help of Harrison, Stephanie, and Lucas. And Extra Life is more than just three people. Every one of you who spends time helping to raise money or awareness for the kids, thank you. You are making a tangible difference in the lives of children in your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Using board games and tabletop roleplaying games to improve the lives of kids by using them to raise money or to help kids pass the time in the hospital can be so, so powerful. Let's keep moving forward and gaming For The Kids. One of the common misconceptions about Extra Life is that someone can only participate if they play video games. Not true! Extra Life supports and encourages all kinds of play. To that end, we have been supporting Tabletop Appreciation Weekend for the past few years. This year, the event takes place August 24-25th and will be a time for players to gather together and play board games for the kids. Learn more about Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend and be sure to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
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