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Found 6 results

  1. 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
  2. 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!
  3. Here we are, the last day of Pride Month 2019. It has been incredible celebrating alongside the LGBTQIA+ community, and we will continue to support kids and participants of all sexualities and genders. For the final bit of Pride Month, we wanted to highlight the ways Extra Life supports the community and a few of the amazing people who have been helping us better serve every kind of kid. We rang in the month talking about how our Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals help youth address issues specific to LGBTQIA+ people. Some kids enter these facilities in need of mental health help in the form of individual and family therapy. Other teens pass through the doors of these places of healing in search of specialized medical support for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Not only that, but one of our newest Extra Life Ambassadors, Allison, was actually treated in one of those hospitals. Allison is an openly transgender young woman and we are honored that she joined with us to promote Extra Life. She even launched a fundraising effort for Pride Month where she raised over $1,100 USD despite having to end her stream early due to feeling sick. E3 occurs in the middle of Pride Month. I’ve worked with Extra Life since 2013 and been to each one from then until now, but this was my first one out as a trans woman. The experience was difficult, but it provided the motivation to share an intensely personal look into my experiences. Of course, I did that while talking about my favorite game of all-time, Shadow of the Colossus. It’s amazing how games can help us through the difficult times in our lives and allow us to process and find clarity on those times after the fact. The Extra Life community is full of LGBTQIA+ folk who fell in love with gaming as a way of escaping from bad situations or to find themselves. We wanted to highlight a few of those wonderful folks who take a bit of time out of their lives to share their hobby with those around them in order to raise money for sick and injured kids. If you haven’t heard of Gnome, you really should get on that. He’s a killer podcaster, a performing cast member of both Rise of the Demigods and Encounter Roleplay, and runs the social media for Kobold Press, a fantastic indie tabletop developer. Gnome also happens to be an openly trans man who has been volunteering and raising money for Extra Life (as well as numerous other good causes) since 2015! I mean, come on, he streamed less than three hours ago as of this writing to raise money to help an injured dog – how great is that? Sashirle has spent the last several years building up her streaming presence with the goal of raising money for homegrown charities. So far she has raised over $2,000 USD over the past two years for her local hospital and is almost a third of the way to her 2019 goal of $1500 USD. In the future, she wants to create a non-profit that will promote literacy through gaming which seems like an absolutely amazing thing! Stop by her stream sometime to show your support, donate to her cause, and catch a glimpse of Severus Snape and Dobby the Housecat, her two feline friends. Of course, it isn’t just individuals that support Extra Life, whole groups do, too! Houston Gaymers is the largest organized group of gamers in Texas. The community supports one another by providing a safe and loving environment for LGBTQIA+ folk and allies, both in-game and in real life. Each year, the group turns out to support Texas Children’s Hospital through Extra Life, something they have done every year since they were founded in 2009. They also work to provide portable gaming gear to hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters in their community. If you’re in or around the Houston area, you should definitely check out Houston Gaymers. We here at Extra Life know that we have one of the best communities in all of gaming. It’s made up of people from all walks of life with different skills and passions who choose to come together every year to help the kids. Some of the people who freely give their labor haven’t had the easiest time because of who they are in the context of our world. Thank you for giving us your energy and time. We will always stand by your side, for Pride Month and for all other months to come. Happy Pride Month, everyone! If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to sign up to participate in Extra Life this year. If you are looking for a team to join or just want to make a contribution, be sure to check out Team Allison. Allison might not have been able to finish her fundraising weekend, but that doesn’t mean she has stopped accepting donations – and she’ll be back for Game Day later this year. View full article
  4. Here we are, the last day of Pride Month 2019. It has been incredible celebrating alongside the LGBTQIA+ community, and we will continue to support kids and participants of all sexualities and genders. For the final bit of Pride Month, we wanted to highlight the ways Extra Life supports the community and a few of the amazing people who have been helping us better serve every kind of kid. We rang in the month talking about how our Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals help youth address issues specific to LGBTQIA+ people. Some kids enter these facilities in need of mental health help in the form of individual and family therapy. Other teens pass through the doors of these places of healing in search of specialized medical support for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Not only that, but one of our newest Extra Life Ambassadors, Allison, was actually treated in one of those hospitals. Allison is an openly transgender young woman and we are honored that she joined with us to promote Extra Life. She even launched a fundraising effort for Pride Month where she raised over $1,100 USD despite having to end her stream early due to feeling sick. E3 occurs in the middle of Pride Month. I’ve worked with Extra Life since 2013 and been to each one from then until now, but this was my first one out as a trans woman. The experience was difficult, but it provided the motivation to share an intensely personal look into my experiences. Of course, I did that while talking about my favorite game of all-time, Shadow of the Colossus. It’s amazing how games can help us through the difficult times in our lives and allow us to process and find clarity on those times after the fact. The Extra Life community is full of LGBTQIA+ folk who fell in love with gaming as a way of escaping from bad situations or to find themselves. We wanted to highlight a few of those wonderful folks who take a bit of time out of their lives to share their hobby with those around them in order to raise money for sick and injured kids. If you haven’t heard of Gnome, you really should get on that. He’s a killer podcaster, a performing cast member of both Rise of the Demigods and Encounter Roleplay, and runs the social media for Kobold Press, a fantastic indie tabletop developer. Gnome also happens to be an openly trans man who has been volunteering and raising money for Extra Life (as well as numerous other good causes) since 2015! I mean, come on, he streamed less than three hours ago as of this writing to raise money to help an injured dog – how great is that? Sashirle has spent the last several years building up her streaming presence with the goal of raising money for homegrown charities. So far she has raised over $2,000 USD over the past two years for her local hospital and is almost a third of the way to her 2019 goal of $1500 USD. In the future, she wants to create a non-profit that will promote literacy through gaming which seems like an absolutely amazing thing! Stop by her stream sometime to show your support, donate to her cause, and catch a glimpse of Severus Snape and Dobby the Housecat, her two feline friends. Of course, it isn’t just individuals that support Extra Life, whole groups do, too! Houston Gaymers is the largest organized group of gamers in Texas. The community supports one another by providing a safe and loving environment for LGBTQIA+ folk and allies, both in-game and in real life. Each year, the group turns out to support Texas Children’s Hospital through Extra Life, something they have done every year since they were founded in 2009. They also work to provide portable gaming gear to hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters in their community. If you’re in or around the Houston area, you should definitely check out Houston Gaymers. We here at Extra Life know that we have one of the best communities in all of gaming. It’s made up of people from all walks of life with different skills and passions who choose to come together every year to help the kids. Some of the people who freely give their labor haven’t had the easiest time because of who they are in the context of our world. Thank you for giving us your energy and time. We will always stand by your side, for Pride Month and for all other months to come. Happy Pride Month, everyone! If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to sign up to participate in Extra Life this year. If you are looking for a team to join or just want to make a contribution, be sure to check out Team Allison. Allison might not have been able to finish her fundraising weekend, but that doesn’t mean she has stopped accepting donations – and she’ll be back for Game Day later this year.
  5. From the beginning, Extra Life has been about helping children. Every day almost 90,000 kids enter facilities supported by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. A significant number of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, or any one of the colorful label used to describe the complicated workings of the human heart. These kids often need specialized care, or sometimes just the support of hospital staff, to ensure they can live happy and healthy lives. Extra Life’s central mission has brought together people with different backgrounds, beliefs, genders, and sexualities to make sure kids, all kids, get the care they need. And the kids aren’t alone. Extra Life has a thriving community of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and participate every year to raise money for the kids. So, this Pride Month we want to make sure that everyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+, from the kids to the people who fundraise for them, know that they have the support of everyone here at Extra Life. If we haven’t said it loudly enough before, let us say it now: Extra Life unequivocally supports the LGBTQIA+ community. Healthcare facilities like St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been improving the quality of care for LGBTQIA+ patients over the past decade and Extra Life is honored to be a small part of that. Last year, St. Louis Children’s Hospital earned the “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation from the Human Rights Campaign. That label means that the hospital scored a perfect 100/100 on the HRC’s evaluations of the quality of care, support for patients, inclusive staffing policies, and engagement with patients and the surrounding community. There’s also Children’s National Health System’s Youth Pride Clinic that seeks to address the unique health problems that occur within the LGBTQIA+ community. These sometimes life threatening issues include depression, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV, just to name a few. The clinic specializes in providing both primary and mental health services to LGBTQIA+ youth and treats anyone ranging in ages 12 to 21. Additionally, the clinic is able to offer the support and medical assistance needed by transgender and gender non-conforming young adults. While this includes hormone replacement therapy or hormone blockers to delay puberty for questioning adolescents, the Youth Pride Clinic also offers specialized therapy for individual kids as well as their families. The relatively recent inclusion of services centered on transgender youth helps to reduce the risks that accompany the particularly elevated risks of depression, anxiety, and attempted suicide in the community. That’s why places like the Transgender Health Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center become so important. The facility helps kids and young adults from 5 to 24, as well as their families, to navigate the sometimes confusing world of genders. Their services help parents to understand their child’s experiences and find a path toward acceptance and, if necessary, transition care. One of the kids who has experienced Cincinnati Children’s Transgender Health Clinic for herself is one of Extra Life’s newest ambassadors, Allison. Allison lives with polycystic kidney disease and she will need lifelong care to deal with the complications. It also means that she will likely need a kidney transplant when she gets older. Right now, however, she’s more focused on attending this year’s E3, a show she’s been experiencing via livestreams since she was 10 years old. She’s also active in being a visible supporter of the transgender community. Allison, with the support of her family, marched in last year’s Cincinnati Pride Parade, helping to represent Cincinnati Children’s Transgender Clinic. Allison stands as Extra Life’s first transgender national champion and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her with us. Extra Life has never been about celebrating and supporting one particular kind of child. From the beginning, Extra Life has been bringing people from all walks of life together to help every kid who enters a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Kids like Allison represent everything we’ve all worked for; giving children and young adults the care they need to live healthy and happy lives. We hope you’ll join us this Pride Month to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of genders and sexualities that have made Extra Life possible and are represented in the kids who need our help. Have a happy Pride Month! If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to sign up to participate in Extra Life this year. If you are looking for a team to join or just want to make a contribution, be sure to check out Team Allison. Allison’s team will be dedicating June 22-23 to play games and bring in donations from supporters and friends. Maybe even a friend like you? View full article
  6. From the beginning, Extra Life has been about helping children. Every day almost 90,000 kids enter facilities supported by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. A significant number of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, or any one of the colorful label used to describe the complicated workings of the human heart. These kids often need specialized care, or sometimes just the support of hospital staff, to ensure they can live happy and healthy lives. Extra Life’s central mission has brought together people with different backgrounds, beliefs, genders, and sexualities to make sure kids, all kids, get the care they need. And the kids aren’t alone. Extra Life has a thriving community of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and participate every year to raise money for the kids. So, this Pride Month we want to make sure that everyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+, from the kids to the people who fundraise for them, know that they have the support of everyone here at Extra Life. If we haven’t said it loudly enough before, let us say it now: Extra Life unequivocally supports the LGBTQIA+ community. Healthcare facilities like St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been improving the quality of care for LGBTQIA+ patients over the past decade and Extra Life is honored to be a small part of that. Last year, St. Louis Children’s Hospital earned the “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation from the Human Rights Campaign. That label means that the hospital scored a perfect 100/100 on the HRC’s evaluations of the quality of care, support for patients, inclusive staffing policies, and engagement with patients and the surrounding community. There’s also Children’s National Health System’s Youth Pride Clinic that seeks to address the unique health problems that occur within the LGBTQIA+ community. These sometimes life threatening issues include depression, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV, just to name a few. The clinic specializes in providing both primary and mental health services to LGBTQIA+ youth and treats anyone ranging in ages 12 to 21. Additionally, the clinic is able to offer the support and medical assistance needed by transgender and gender non-conforming young adults. While this includes hormone replacement therapy or hormone blockers to delay puberty for questioning adolescents, the Youth Pride Clinic also offers specialized therapy for individual kids as well as their families. The relatively recent inclusion of services centered on transgender youth helps to reduce the risks that accompany the particularly elevated risks of depression, anxiety, and attempted suicide in the community. That’s why places like the Transgender Health Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center become so important. The facility helps kids and young adults from 5 to 24, as well as their families, to navigate the sometimes confusing world of genders. Their services help parents to understand their child’s experiences and find a path toward acceptance and, if necessary, transition care. One of the kids who has experienced Cincinnati Children’s Transgender Health Clinic for herself is one of Extra Life’s newest ambassadors, Allison. Allison lives with polycystic kidney disease and she will need lifelong care to deal with the complications. It also means that she will likely need a kidney transplant when she gets older. Right now, however, she’s more focused on attending this year’s E3, a show she’s been experiencing via livestreams since she was 10 years old. She’s also active in being a visible supporter of the transgender community. Allison, with the support of her family, marched in last year’s Cincinnati Pride Parade, helping to represent Cincinnati Children’s Transgender Clinic. Allison stands as Extra Life’s first transgender national champion and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her with us. Extra Life has never been about celebrating and supporting one particular kind of child. From the beginning, Extra Life has been bringing people from all walks of life together to help every kid who enters a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Kids like Allison represent everything we’ve all worked for; giving children and young adults the care they need to live healthy and happy lives. We hope you’ll join us this Pride Month to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of genders and sexualities that have made Extra Life possible and are represented in the kids who need our help. Have a happy Pride Month! If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to sign up to participate in Extra Life this year. If you are looking for a team to join or just want to make a contribution, be sure to check out Team Allison. Allison’s team will be dedicating June 22-23 to play games and bring in donations from supporters and friends. Maybe even a friend like you?
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