Extra Life 2014: What It Means to Us
Kalvin Martinez / Oct 16th, 2014 No Comments
At E3 2013, Gaming Illustrated met Jeromy Adams of Extra Life. After speaking with Adams, it quickly became a cause that all of our staff wanted to participate in. Last year, Gaming Illustrated ran an Extra Life stream for the first time, but now, it’s time to ramp up our efforts.
This year, our mission is to raise even more money for our local Children’s Miracle Network hospital, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), and help out children in need. However, each of us has our own personal motivation for participating in Extra Life. Please read why Gaming Illustrated is participating in Extra Life 2014 and click here to find out more.
Video games are unhealthy; video games are for kids and nerds; video games drive players to be violent in real life. While gamers understand these myths are untrue, mainstream culture still mostly accepts these statements as fact. The goal of Extra Life is to raise money for children who need it most, but it also answers these criticisms in the best way possible — by using video games for good.
An important aspect of gaming is the sense of community, and some of my most memorable moments involved playing video games with loved ones. Extra Life recognizes this by allowing us to raise funds for our local children’s hospital. As a lifelong Orange County resident, the opportunity to give back to the community is a cause that is easy to believe in. I take great pride in knowing that the money we raise will go toward helping children at CHOC — children who could be creating their own memorable gaming moments; children who could be aspiring game reviewers and developers; children who need it the most.
On Oct. 25, all the controversies in gaming take a back seat and the gaming community comes together for a worthy cause. Differing opinions don’t matter, players will just enjoy playing video games. With the current state of gaming culture in 2014, the gaming industry needs Extra Life.
Last year I was able to participate in Extra Life for the first time. I had heard about it the year before and donated to others’ fundraisers, but didn’t participate myself. I didn’t even watch the streamed content. The driving force was the passing of one of my best friends. I decided to take a more active role in the following years.
Not only was it a ton of fun to host a party and stream the gameplay, but I knew what I was doing was benefiting those in need. The cause helped children who were much younger than my friend, but in similar situations.
This year has been even more trying than the last. I was terminated from my position without cause and my father ended up passing away from almost the exact same cancer that my friend had the year before. I’ve been able to pick myself up with the help of my friends and family. Not that it was easy but I had my health, my mother, friends and an amazing girlfriend.
With illness and injury comes financial strife, which can take a toll on morale and the family unit. This year, I’m doubling down and devoted to raising much more money than last year for those who need it. To save them from the worry of where the next dollar is coming from.
A few weeks before my sixth birthday I lost my father to Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS, as it might be more properly known due to the Ice Bucket Challenge, is one of those diseases that is constantly fought, usually in a losing battle. Being so young, I was left with very few opportunities to cultivate memories with my father. However, a few still remain, including some treasured gaming memories. I remember sitting next to him in his wheelchair playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES. I also remember unwrapping a Game Boy he had purchased for my birthday only weeks before he died.
Organizations like Extra Life have the difficult and inspiring job of raising money, helping hospitals and providing comfort for affected families. As a kid, I often clung to the few memories I had of my father and developed an increasingly tight relationship with games. They were a support system, a friend, an escape and a way to feel happy and comforted. In the face of terrible illness it often feels like nothing will ever extinguish that pain. Yet, when seeing a rallying call like Extra Life’s, one can’t help but be inspired and remain hopeful.
Last year I, like many of my other editors, played and streamed video games in support of Extra Life. The money we raised was incredible and it’s just as incredible that we are doing it again. Over the years gaming has received a heavy amount of criticism for violence, being harmful to children and more. Some of it’s earned, some of it isn’t. Whenever sweeping negativity clouds over the industry I love, it obviously makes me sad.
Extra Life is one of the many wonderful things that games represent. It is one of the countless ways gamers donate money or unite towards a cause. Seeing people come together, have fun and raise money is something we should all want to be a part of. Gaming has always been a big part of my life, and with more opportunities to do good I don’t see that stopping any time soon.
It is easy to say you care about something charitable, but it is another to believe in it. I believe passionately in Extra Life. It does amazing things for children going through the most arduous time in their lives, and gives the gaming community an outlet to do something positive (for a change).
More than believing in Extra Life because it is great cause, I know what it is like to be in these kids’ situation. I’ve spoken on this to different levels of sincerity and sarcasm. When I was a young boy, I got ridiculously sick in the summer of 1998. It was horrendous. The situation escalated to where I was hospitalized for a week. There is nothing scarier than being sick as a kid, especially when doctors can’t figure out what is wrong. The uncertainty is crushing. Worse is when the answer they come back with is leukemia. Processing the finality of that diagnosis crushed me in many ways. I remember getting a journal as a gift from the procession of people visiting me, and the only thing I did in it was write how I wanted to die. It was the darkest time in my life.
It was so bad that at one point, they were going to prep my twin for a bone marrow transplant. The weight of that diagnosis is too much for anyone to handle, let alone a kid. The one thing that quelled the anger, subsided the suicidal thoughts, and calmed me down was the SNES they hooked up and the giant plastic container full of old SNES cartridges. My brother and I spent hours digging through that plastic container and checking out all the games, both of us trying to make progress in Aladdin remains so vivid to me. The simple act of playing video games pacified me. If it wasn’t for that SNES and those games, I don’t know what would have happened.
Luckily, it turned out it was just a terrible virus, and I was able to leave with a clean bill of health, but the damage was done. Knowing what it feels like to be so young and hospitalized fuels my passion for Extra Life. Helping support this great cause and the good it does for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the children seeking help is important.
tags: charity , CHOC , Extra Life , opinion