Extra Life 2014: Help me for the big day on October 25

Extra Life Logo_Blue

Once a year, I deprive myself of sleep to do one thing — help sick kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. How do I do this, you ask? By playing videogames for 24 hours straight. (Last year, it was 25 hours.)

Extra Life began after the untimely death of Victoria Enmon due to acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January of 2008. When I first heard about this charity, I thought that it was a great way to do something I love and help people that I have no connection to. But, as I continued to promote the cause each year, I’ve found out that I have a closer connection to it than I thought.

I’ve had family lose loved ones at the hospital in the past, and I don’t think I ever would’ve realized that if it wasn’t for this charity. When I went to the first Extra Life Portland guild meeting about 4-6 months ago, the stories I heard about why people participate would make some people cry. Doernbecher was finally working to get people more involved and organized, which I found refreshing considering we raised so much money for the hospital last year. With the help of everyone involved, we’re getting even more people involved at Rose City Comic Con and the Retro Game Expo.

This is where your help comes in to play. I can’t do this without you. Each year, my goal gets a little higher than the year before. This year, my goal is $400. I plan on streaming my play session along with doing a lot of fun stuff on social media. Basically, I want to make sure that if you’re sponsoring me, you get as much entertainment from me as I can offer.

So, I ask you, can you please sponsor me for Extra Life 2014? People are encouraged to donate a dollar per hour for each hour I play, but I appreciated any donation, even if it’s $5.

Do you have any other ideas for ways that I can entertain you and get more donations? Please let me know!

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Making time to write, preparing for Extra Life

I’ve written what seems like countless times that I’d write more on the blog, so I’m not going to make any big excuses this time around. When you write for a living, it takes extra effort to write recreationally. I can’t find the quote now, but I remember a sentence I read on Destructoid about writing every day. They wrote something to the likes of, “Don’t have time to write every day? Make time, puto!”

So, here I am. I’m making the time. Lately, my job has been an interesting mix of business communications, press release writing, media list building and event planning. Event planning has never been something I favor in the PR industry, but I’ve gotten better at it over the years. I recently organized a clean-up event for Portland Brewing, and as with most event planning, I don’t think it would’ve been even moderately successful without the help of others. Though it kind of burnt me out, the feedback I got from everyone was really nice.

The most interesting thing I picked up was the elastic band of men's underwear

The most interesting thing I picked up was an elastic band of men’s underwear

Now that the event has passed, it’s time to concentrate on one of my favorite times of the year — Extra Life. Each year, I’ve tried to get a little more interactive with it, especially for the people who sponsor me. I’ll tell you more about what I’ve got planned later on this week, but I’m pretty excited to begin testing it out. Here’s a hint to what I’m going to start using. I encourage you to watch the video below, if you’re curious to know the story of how Extra Life came to be.

Because, I’m going to write more often, my posts will be shorter like this one, but I hope you find it easier to digest.

Be awesome.

Extra Life 2014 — What I’m Playing and When

Extra Life 2012 Essentials

Drained. That’s how I usually feel after videogaming for 24 hours straight. But, once a year for the past three years, I’ve made that choice to help kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, because friends and family have believed in this cause enough to sponsor me. I’m doing it again this year and we’re upping the challenge, because the official day lands on November 2, which just happens to be on Daylight Savings Time.

Each year, I try to figure out as many ways to make this event as entertaining as possible for the people who sponsored me and to promote the event for others who may want to participate. This year, I seriously considered a live stream of my gameplay, but it just proved too expensive for something I wouldn’t use very often. However, there have been new technologies that have been released since last year’s event that I will use — Instagram video, photo apps for interactive participation and more. If you have any other ideas for promotion and entertainment, please let me know.

I’d be delighted if you’d like to sponsor me. My profile on the Extra Life website is at bit.ly/Jesserad. I’ve included a list of some of the more current games that I’ll be playing below, but I have a fair amount of digital games in my Xbox 360 library, so let me know what you have and if you want to play some multiplayer games. The last five hours are usually the toughest, so if you want to play some games at that time, I’d be most appreciative.

At this time, I’m $100 away from my goal and with everyone’s help, I’ve managed to raise $1,155.26 over the four years. If it wasn’t for the generosity of everyone I know, this never would’ve been possible, so I applaud everyone who has sponsored me. You’re all the best.

Here’s to another great year and let’s surpass the 2 million dollars that were raised last year!

The games I’m planning to play this year are as follows:

  • Grand Theft Auto 5 (Xbox 360)
  • Asura’s Wrath (Xbox 360)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Xbox 360)
  • Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360)
  • Minecraft (Xbox 360)
  • Terraria (Xbox 360)
  • You Don’t Know Jack (Xbox 360)
  • 30 Flights of Loving (Steam)
  • Hotline Miami (Steam)
  • Amnesia: Dark Descent (Steam)
  • Card Hunter (PC Browser)
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2 (iOS)
  • Infinity Blade 2 (iOS)
  • Ridiculous Fishing (iOS)

Extra Life 2012 Recap and a Heartfelt Thanks

Extra Life 2012 Gamer Photo

2:41 a.m. and I’d be a zombie if it weren’t for energy drinks.

Another year down, another successful 24 hours playing video games in participation of Extra Life to help kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. It wasn’t easy, but it was a blast playing with friends and straight-up relaxing on the weekend.

As I write this, the record total donations stands at $1,882,510 for children’s hospitals around the world. This spectacular news wouldn’t be possible, if it wasn’t for the wonderful person who inspired this all to happen – a young girl name Tori. But there are so many more people who make this possible: the gamers, the friends and family that donate to a good cause, and the hardworking individuals who make this charity possible annually. If it weren’t for all of us, this wouldn’t succeed each year, let alone surpass each previous year’s total donation.

I would like to thank the following people for sponsoring me in Extra Life 2012. Without you all, this wouldn’t have meant much of anything.

  • Grady Locklear
  • Steve Tannen
  • Stu Holdren
  • Matt Singley
  • Kathy Wamsley
  • Bob Cowell
  • Erick Navetta
  • Corina Darold
  • Brianna Gardner
  • David & Tiffany Van Pelt
  • Ian Bragg
  • Dave Galas
  • Tyler & Betsy Tanenbaum
  • Katie Bray
  • Jeremy Liebman
  • Yaicha Tanenbaum
  • And two buyers on eBay whose purchases went to charity

The definite highlight of the night was playing with friends. Adventuring through a Minecraft world and shooting aliens in Halo: Reach is so much more fun when you have friends with you. Finishing the story to Borderlands 2 and Mark of the Ninja was a ton of fun and I hope the pictures and updates I posted throughout the 24 hours was entertaining and not too annoying. With the winter release of video games on the way, I’m already planning on playing many more games with friends during these cold winter months.

Thank you all again for the help, the kinds words, and the support in donations and spreading the message. I would also like to thank my lovely girlfriend, Yaicha, for helping me with all of the much-needed food and drink during the marathon, especially near hour 20. Without her, this would’ve been tougher than it was. Now, to get back to gaming!

Extra Life 2012: Gaming for a Cause

Extra Life Controller with Wings

October 20: We Game for the Kids

It’s fall, my favorite season of the year when it’s still warm in Oregon but just cool enough to wear my favorite hoodies. It’s also time for one of my favorite events of the year – Extra Life. For the last two years, I’ve helped kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital through the power of gaming, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donors who have sponsored me in the past.

So, I’m asking again if you’d like to sponsor me in Extra Life 2012, a 24-hour video game marathon to help kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. This charity is four years in its existence and has gone from 1165 gamers participating in 2008 to over 13,000 gamers in 2011. When I participated in 2010, we helped raise over $465,000 for kids around the world; by 2011, we raised over $1,000,000. But, again, without the support of awesome friends and family, that would never have been possible.

This year, I’ve already had some great friends and family donating to such a great cause. I’ve also auctioned some items off on eBay that I acquired at PAX and they too will go to this cause. I’ve got some other plans on helping get more sponsors before game time on October 20, but I’d love your help on any other thoughts on how to get sponsors. Would you like to spread the word for me? Do you have five or ten bucks you want to donate? Would you like to see me dance poorly for a donation? I’ll do it! Don’t tempt me.

I want to give a big shout-out to Grady Locklear, Steve Tannen, Stu Holdren, and Matt Singley for sponsoring me this year. You four are awesome people and I really appreciate it. I’ve got $59 of my $300 goal with a little under a month to go. If you would like to learn more about how Extra Life started, this article will explain it. If you’re thinking of participating, this FAQ should answer most of the questions you have. Thank you very much for reading and donating! I’m looking forward to gaming with you and for you!

Extra Life 2011: How it all went down

Before the marathon

The day has come and gone and Extra Life 2011 was a huge success! Last year, when I first heard about this charity, I signed up on a whim. The goal begins at $96 and can be adjusted accordingly. My original thoughts were that many people wouldn’t take it seriously, but I was surprised at how fast that goal was met from some extremely generous friends and family. So, I bumped up the goal and ended up donating over $240 to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. That’s when I thought that this could be something used for real good.

Fast-forward to this year with my goal started at $250. Some great friends and family sponsored me and helped blow past that goal to $300 thus gearing me up again for another epic day of marathon gaming on October 15. Of course, as erratic as my sleep patterns are, I awoke at 2:30 a.m. so excited that there was no chance of me going back to sleep. For anyone who sponsored me, I want to reassure you that I easily played games for well over 24 hours, including breaks, throughout the day and night.

The marathon begins

I officially started my session at 8 a.m. with an Xbox 360 game called Spider-Man: Edge of Time. It was a nice “beat-em-up” game that satiated a mind used to shooters and much more intense, twitchy games. After a few hours, I switched over to playing some Gears of War 3 with my friend Brianna and Stu, who was also participating in Extra Life 2011. We jumped into a horde mode match and made it to a round in the thirties before being disconnected from the host. BAH!

That was a great time to take a small break and then jump back into some video games with Pinball FX2, which is a great game to take a break with. It was one of my top games for 2010 and continues to be a favorite to go back to. Afterward, I played some multi-player Call of Duty: Black Ops with a bunch of random people. If you’re unaccustomed to playing games with strangers, let me tell you, you can hear some weird stories occasionally. That day, I got a few guys talking about the type of weed they smoke. I’m so happy Xbox has a mute button.

As night approaches

I ended up jumping into Stu’s campaign on Gears of War 3 and we finished the game, which took about four hours to do. At this point it was time to take a small dinner break consisting of some pad thai from Thai Orchid, which definitely hit the spot. After eating that, I threw in some L.A. Noire to play some of the downloadable content that has been waiting for me. I love the music and actors that Team Bondi got for this game and if you like the TV show “Mad Men,” you’d probably like playing this game.

The finish line in sight

After I finished a chapter in L.A. Noire, I killed some more time playing multi-player Call of Duty, Super Stickman Golf on iOS and some more Spider-Man until about 1 a.m. My friend, Evan, said that he would wake up at 2 a.m. to help me ride out the last and hardest part of the marathon. Keep in mind, I’ve been awake for a full 24 hours my 2:30 a.m. and have been playing games  since  around 4:30 a.m.

When the clock struck 2:30 a.m., Evan and I started our journey into Call of Duty’s zombie maps. I can’t believe that I haven’t gotten into these before, but I’m so happy that I participated in this charity in order to give me a good reason to play them. The layout of each area is detailed, the well thought out and full of mysteries. By the time we were finished with our last match, it was after 8:30 a.m. I signed off and recorded one last video to my Tumblr account.

Overall, Extra Life 2011 has been a huge success. Gamers from around the world have donated an approximate combined total of over 1.1 million dollars to children’s hospitals worldwide this year, which is a huge leap from the $465,000 last year and $170,000 the year before that. I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the people who sponsored me, played games with me, and promoted this cause. It means a lot to me, but even more to the kids it will help at Doernbecher.

Who says video games are bad for you?

King of Extra Life 2011

Everyone who participates in Extra Life are kings and queens in my book.

Extra Life 2011 Update

Extra Life 2011 Goal

You Can Still Donate!

With the help of some great friends and family, we’ve exceeded the original goal of $250 for kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. I would like to thank the following people for making it happen:

  • Andrew Hwang
  • Stu Holdren
  • Matt Clegg
  • Bob Cowell
  • Kathy Sandaine
  • Rob Wineriter
  • Tyler Bolton
  • Kathy Wamsley
  • Brianna Gardner

If it weren’t for you all, this never would’ve been possible. Check back at this site to see more about what I will be doing for Extra Life 2011 in the coming weeks. You can still help the kids at Doernbecher by donating and sponsoring me here. Thanks again!