So That Was Extra Life 2015 (with Video)

MY SINGLE SESSION PLAYTHROUGH OF SOMA WILL HAPPEN ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, STARTING AT 10AM EST ON TWITCH! IT WILL ALSO BE PUT ONTO YOUTUBE LATER. BE THERE FOR THE HILARITY AND PLEASE DONATE IF YOU HAVEN’T YET!

Extra Life has become a big part of my life and something I very much look forward to every year. I started doing it in 2011 when most people didn’t know when it was and it’s now a staple of my calendar and an event that’s clearly hit mainstream consciousness. Being a huge introvert, I’ve never been good at fundraising publicly and not only does this great event allow me to turn my favourite past time into something that does immense good for sick kids, most of the fundraising is done online.  This year was my most challenging yet and I really wasn’t sure what to expect but the results were better than I could have ever hoped for and there are so many to thank and happy memories to relay.

In addition to doing the event itself, I also took on the responsibility of volunteer Secretary for the newly formed official Ottawa Extra Life Guild. The guild definitely had some first year challenges that I hope we can overcome next year but we made a big impact and got a lot more people involved which is fantastic. Our representative from CHEO brought by this year’s CHEO Champion, Devon Payette, to our last guild meeting. We geeked out about retro games for 20 minutes within 30 seconds of me meeting him. He’s a really special young man who loves video games and has used them to help him through the Hellish treatment he’s had to endure. People like him are why we do this and I’m so glad he got to meet us all and tell us his story.

I set a goal of $1,000 this year which is still lofty but a step down from previous years. This is partially because I’m currently unemployed and don’t have a pile of co-workers to nag and also because since Extra Life operates in US dollars and the Canadian dollar has tanked in the last year, it’s much more expensive for local people to donate than it was in years past. I truly had no idea if $1,000 was even a possibility and figured if I hit it at all, it would be only just. Well, at time of writing, my total currently stands at $1,565 US dollars which after conversion to Canadian dollars–which is what will happen before my local hospital gets the money–is just shy of a record! In addition to that, my partner in crime for this year, Dr. P0ul3t has crossed the $400 mark, a huge milestone for his first year and the Ottawa Guild Superstars team which was for members of our local guild who didn’t have other teams has raised $2,830 US dollars, absolutely destroying the $2,000 set goal! Even more amazing still, Extra Life as a whole has currently raised $6,775,102 US dollars, smashing all previous yearly records and they’ve also crossed the $20,000,000 barrier for total funds raised since launching in 2008. There is no way to spin any of these numbers but as epic successes and epic wins for the Children’s Miracle Network. Fundraising remains open until the end of 2015 so if you haven’t yet donated but want to, there’s still time! Click any of the links above to donate where you wish. Everything helps!

Obviously, I want to express my eternal gratitude to everyone who donated to my campaign and to Dr. P0ul3t’s this year. Your support is why we all do Extra Life. To see so many people step up in what I thought was going to be my toughest year ever still chokes me up a bit to think about. You are all amazing and doing incredible good for one of the world’s finest children’s hospitals.

There are a few people I want to thank in particular, some of which were people I never expected to contribute in the ways they did. My Mom Lynn, a personal hero to me already, donated $200, despite being retired and on a limited income and she also nagged a bunch of her friends to step up as well. Several of my freelance clients also stepped up with larger donations than usual because they knew I needed the extra help this year. Ivan’s European Deli, Jim Dickinson Auto Tech and The Cake Shop also graciously hosted coin jars for me again this year. They unfortunately didn’t bring in much money but that’s largely because I put the jars out way too late this year. That’s on me and I won’t make that mistake in the future. Someone who has previously hosted a jar for me is Big D’s Dog House, an incredible local food truck, run by super good dude Dennis Collette. He closed for the season this year before we could do that but said he still wanted to support the cause and said if I came by, he’d give me a cheque. I was expecting maybe $25 or $50 but he ended up donating $150, which blew me away, especially since he’s not open right now. Dennis loves to help out local charities and I can’t thank him enough, nor can I wait to partake in his truck’s awesome delights next year! In addition, Glen Gower who runs Stittsville Central, was gracious enough to allow me to write a small article to help promote Extra Life to our local community. That was really cool of him and I really appreciate the opportunity.

Perhaps the most incredible donation though is that from my Internet service provider. Yeah, you read that right. Like many tech savvy Canadians, I refuse to use the big telecartels when I can at all avoid it. I use a small ISP from London, Ontario called Start Communications. Their services are reasonably priced, fast, reliable and their customer service is among the best I’ve ever seen and trust me, I have high standards. I tweeted at a number of placed to ask for retweets to help raise awareness of my campaign. Start has about 3,300 followers so I said I was a loyal customer using their service to stream Extra Life and would they mind helping me spread word. Sure enough, they retweeted me which was awesome. An hour later, I got an e-mail from Extra Life saying that their CEO Peter Rocca donated $500 to my campaign, completely unprompted and out of the blue. I just stared at the screen in disbelief for about 5 minutes. These people don’t know me beyond my entry in their client database. I was just some customer and not even playing for their local children’s hospital. All I wanted was a retweet and they gave me that, plus almost a third of my total funds raised! This right here? This is why you should support small businesses! I cannot thank Mr. Rocca and Start Communications enough. I was already an evangelist for their incredible service and recommended it whenever I can and that’s been solidified now. Seriously, if you live in Canada and hate what you pay for Internet service, look these guys up and mention me if you sign up. Companies like this deserve more business.

Dr. P0ul3t and I would also very much like to thank our significant others, my girlfriend Sarah and his wife Emma for providing support throughout the day. Sarah walked the dog for me on game day, brought us lunch, coffee, beer and more and ensured we could focus on the marathon. She stayed at her parent’s in the evening so we wouldn’t keep her up but then, Emma brought us dinner and more coffee and even offered to do so again in the middle of the night. These two ladies are very special and without their support, game day would have been a lot harder. You are both wonderful and Sarah, thank you, I love you so much.

As for the day itself, it was a blast. This is the first year I did Extra Life with someone else for the entire run and Dr. P0ul3t and I really enjoyed it. He was here with me for the whole 24 hours and honestly, I think he faired better in terms of not crashing out towards the end than I did. Having another person to talk to and share energy with made things so much more fun and I really enjoyed it. I hope we can do it again next year, I’d love to. We had a private TeamSpeak server setup and our good friend Andrew (aka KeyMastar)–who I originally met through my Extra Life 2012 Twitch chat–hung out for almost the whole 24 hours, which he did the year prior as well. He’d been battling strep throat for most of the week so he couldn’t stick around for the whole marathon which I mean, yeah! I still think he’s nuts for doing it to begin with but it’s so awesome of him to do so.

We also met someone named TeddyMonstar when we were playing Killing Floor 2 who found the stream, joined our game and eventually, hopped into TeamSpeak with us and proceeded to play games with us for several more hours. He was a US military man who has been combat deployed overseas and was currently on a Texas base, running out his service time because he lost a large piece of his leg in combat. Not unlike Devon, gaming is his main way of passing the time. He was a really cool guy and great to play games with. We’re now Steam friends and I hope we get a chance to play again in the future. Almost no one watches me when I live stream but in doing Extra Life, this is now the second cool person I just randomly met while playing and I think it’s so cool this event has made that possible.

If you want to hear stories about the day itself, I highly recommend watching the Geek Bravado Ramble at the top of the post. There are too many stories to relay here but needless to say, it was a great day full of great times. In particular, our 4ish hours with Spintires was some of the most fun and laughter I’ve had in years. I’m going to see if I can cut together a highlight video of that experience because it was just to funny not to. Needless to say, we all had a ton of fun and played a bunch of great games for a great cause.

I love doing Extra Life every year but until now, nothing had topped my 2012 year when I played Dark Souls for 24 hours. That experience and all the people from Twitch that helped was something special that year. I dare say though that this year as a whole has topped it, just because of how much my fundraising expectations were surpassed, how much fun we had focusing on co-op and the great experiences we had with the people we met doing it. This year has been rough for me in many ways and this was an incredible bright spot that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. So many people made it possible and I can’t thank them all enough. Extra Life not only does incredible good for sick kids in need, it does good for me too.

There have been a lot of attacks made on gamers and gaming culture this year, many of which came from self-appointed critics who make thousands of dollars a month to do little more than whine on Twitter and Tumblr. I don’t know how much they raised for sick kids this year but gamers raised a ton, through diverse acts of selflessness, compassion and sacrifice for a cause greater than us. We took our hobby and turned it into something that did immense good for those in need. Who do you think did more of value for the world in 2015? To me, the answer is obvious. Maybe some of these critics and the press outlets that blindly support them should look to Extra Life the next time they decide to declare that gamers are dead.

This is a great event and I can’t wait to do it again. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and CHEO in so many ways. You are all great people and your generosity means more to me than I can ever express. We’ll see you next year, count on it!

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