Our Journey As Female Gamers Part II - Featuring Charlotte Merritt & Stephanie Watson

What would it be like to have an extensive gaming experience that spanned forty years? What kind of evolution would be experienced over the course of an entire generation? 

I had the honor of talking with two of our Replayers who have been gaming in one fashion or another for around forty years. I started gaming from a very early age, but I was very curious about what these ladies’ experiences were, considering they had more background knowledge of the earlier systems and have played significantly more video games than I have. 

They have seen and experienced the evolution of the online collective community of video game players. What kind of environment did those first communities foster, and how have they since changed? 

Let’s start with a little history from them to see how things have changed from the early days:

How did you become a gamer and was there a specific influence that led you down this path?

The Commodore 64 was introduced in August 1982.

Charlotte: My father bought a floppy drive for our Commodore 64. Dad liked some games, but he really didn’t lead me to them. It’s more that he introduced them.

Stephanie: I was about 7 or 8 when Pac-Man, Galaga, and other early arcade games started appearing in local restaurants. My parents bought us portable Pac-Man and Donkey Kong games to play at home. It started as something to do at restaurants while my family was waiting for a table or socializing after eating. Later, I started asking if I could ride my bike to the arcade and play. Friends and cousins had PCs with games and Atari 2600 consoles, and I'd try to visit them so I could play there too. Back home, though, my parents didn't buy anything until I was around 15, and it was a Nintendo NES for my brother. I played it a lot, but it always meant having to hang out in my brother's room. 

What are some of your favorite games you grew up with and why? What kind of gamer are you? Do you like challenges, is it more for the social aspect, do you prefer games that are puzzles or have a relaxing element to it? Has that preference evolved over time? 

Charlotte: Some of the games I grew up playing were Police Quest, Doom (1993) specifically, and Twisted Metal. At-home gaming was just coming in when I was a kid. I would say I am an eclectic gamer. I love the social aspect of video games. RPG’s are grand (Ultima Online & SWTOR). Puzzles are my favorite. Uncharted, the entire series is my absolute favorite. I think my preference has evolved as games have advanced.

Stephanie: Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were always favorites, and I got a lot of Super Mario Brothers playtime. I fell in love with The Legend of Zelda on my brother's NES. He got the Nintendo Power magazine for a while, so I would dive into the guides for specific games so I could get past the sticking points that made me rage quit.

I like a combination of puzzles and story-driven missions, and I usually play on story or normal modes. A story will keep me playing if I was really compelled by it or if there are different options for playing the story on repeated runs. Thus, RPGs are often a big draw. I also love achievement hunting and team challenges when I can play with other people. I love going back to play games like Destiny and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Throughout the years have you noticed a shift in women gamers? What’s been your personal experience with this?

Charlotte:  For sure. Growing up, my generation's games were marketed to boys. Girls who played them were weird. Thanks go to the younger generation of gamers and streamers who have really helped try to normalize us. I remember so many times in UO (Ultima Online) other players not believing that I was a woman. “Women don’t play games” or “Women don’t know how to do RPG’s.” I was judged a lot by other girls as a teen because I would go home and throw on Doom, instead of reading Cosmo and learning the new makeup tips. Now it’s so nice that thanks to Retro Replay, I have this fantastic group of female gamers around me.

Stephanie: When video games first came out in the late 70s and early 80s, toy stores had no idea where they should put them. At the time, stores segregated toys by target gender (boy and girl). They chose to put them in the boy section and market them to boys. Many girls like me have felt the results of that marketing decision for three decades. Even today, people assume I'm a "he" in online games, even if I'm playing a female character. Fortunately, girls are really starting to come into their own now in ALL KINDS of games, and gaming communities are starting to outright reject people who discriminate against female gamers. I'm all for that, and it's great to see more females proudly calling themselves a gamer without feeling like they have to qualify or distinguish their gender.

 

Have there been any specific female leads in games over the years that have inspired or motivated you? How did they do so? 

 

Chloe & Nadie don’t look like they need rescuing.

Charlotte:  Lara Croft was a big one. Tough, strong female character. This has now grown to include Elena, Chloe, and Nadine. They don’t need to be “rescued”. They hold their own.

Stephanie: I admit I've mostly played games in which the lead was male just because I found the story intriguing. That said, I love how Star Wars: The Old Republic wrote the female versions of each character class to be equal to their male counterparts in the main plots of the story.

 

Do you feel that women have been underrepresented as leads in games throughout the years? Have you noticed a shift in recent years? Expand on this. 

Charlotte: For Sure. They’ve been insanely underrepresented AND over-sexualized when they are in a game. Yes.

Stephanie: We've absolutely been underrepresented as leads. There has been an effort in recent years to have a female alternative lead in games, but most of the marketing and labels use the male lead. I suppose that's because of their demographic, with males still being the majority of gamers in certain game categories. I appreciate the move that RPG games have made to ensure that the female characters had just as compelling of a story as their male counterparts. And the game stories are also bringing in a lot of diversity.

 

Some of us are streamers: 

What’s been your experience with becoming a streamer? 

 

Charlotte: It’s been fun. I recently became a Twitch affiliate. I have my first subscriber (Thanks Adam!) People have been very welcoming and supportive.

Stef's new setup

Stephanie: It's a fun hobby, and it's given me an excuse to improve my gaming setup at home. It also helps me accept that I'm not perfect (I can't just edit out the rough spots) and that's okay. My streaming schedule has been incredibly limited since 2021 started, though, as I now spend most of my hobby hours editing articles for a website or producing a podcast.

What are some of your favorite things about streaming versus your least favorite things? 

 

Charlotte: I love seeing my friends interacting in my chat. I hate seeing a new name and hitting that second of panic of….are you here to troll or are you here cause I’m playing a game you like? Luckily, I’ve only had to deal with a couple of bots. So I’ll claim a win, so far.

Stephanie: My favorite part of streaming is seeing people who come in regularly, people who have been supporting me and the channel from the start. I love that I can talk to them while I'm playing or cooking or whatever I'm streaming that day. That social part is even better when I can stream with friends, too. 

 

Back to gaming:

What is one of your favorite achievements in your personal gaming history you’ve accomplished? A game you’ve beaten, an achievement reached or a charity stream goal achieved? 

 

Charlotte’s family resulted from her playing an online game and meeting her Prince Charming. Now she is living her “Happily Ever After.”

Charlotte: My 15-year-old son, Troy. I met my husband on a video game (Ultima Online) back in 2002. We married in 2003.

Stephanie: My favorite "old school" achievement is finishing The Legend of Zelda on NES. I've even replayed the game multiple times in the years since when I could find it. My favorite current achievement is hosting an Extra Life team and charity stream. We raised almost $1500 for children's hospitals and the whole team brought so much energy, enthusiasm, and support for each other. It was a joy to be able to host, and I hope we can do it again in 2021!

https://www.extra-life.org/ 

Charity Streams are a great way to pursue your hobby and give back to a great cause! 

Video games have evolved significantly in the last few years in regards to diversity and strong female leads. What more would you like to see from the industry in the future?

Charlotte: Would love to see even more diversity, gender, and race. I would also like to see schools promote the E arts to female students. It’s sad how much more the boys are pushed to them. I feel like if girls had new opportunities in jobs available they would go for more of those classes.

Stephanie: We've already come a long way with female leads and gay representation. I'd like to see more story writers and game producers take that to the next level by having characters who are bisexual, polyamorous, transgender, transvestite, and non-binary. I'd especially like stories to not assume every romance is going to be hetero or monogamous.

 

 I had a lot of fun discussing these questions in further detail in a Zoom chat with six of us female Replayers.

I learned a lot from Charlotte and Stephanie. From the early days of gaming to our current era it seems we have come a long way already in a short period of time. There have already been great strides in diversifying stories and gameplay. In recent years we have seen a significant influx of strong female leads giving us women gamers someone to finally relate to. You can look at a past interview of female replayers here.

 

Thank you again Charlotte and Stephanie for chatting with me and sharing your experience with the rest of us.

Check out their socials!

Charlotte - Twitter: @snapefantasy Twitch: twitch.tv/snapefantasy Instagram: snapefantasy

Stephanie - Twitter: @StephanieDoesVO Twitch: twitch.tv/Jicori Instagram: stephaniedoesvo

 

What other kinds of diversified roles would you like to see in video games? 

 

I'm Not a Gamer, but I AM a Replayer!

As I write this, it is the night before the premiere episode of "Level 4!" That's how we refer to the seasons of the show around here. Pretty funny, huh? Since Level 1, I have learned a lot about the expectations that sometimes come from being a Replayer. 

When I get to know Replayers for the first time, I'm often asked, "What console do you have? Are you a PlayStation or Xbox person?"

I typically reply, "Neither. The last time I played a console was when Nintendo 64 first came out." Then I imagine their eyes fluttering like butterflies in disbelief, not about the console, but that I might be the same age as their mom. To be honest with you, I can't believe it, either.

If they do ask why I haven't had a console since the N64, I have to give that same answer I've given countless times before:

"I have cerebral palsy and I'm unable to use the standard controller."

This answer often leaves people at a loss for a moment. I imagine them staring down at their shoes looking for the right response, then eventually raising their head to see a very short woman in a wheelchair before apologizing in a childlike whisper.

Here's me, the non-gamer.

But I reassure them: "Oh, that's alright, I live the life of a V.I.P." When they look at me puzzled, I explain, "I come with my own set of wheels and parking space, not to mention I always have the best seat in the house!" And hopefully, they laugh.

Other questions follow from Shana's Replayer FAQ:

"Well, what games do you have on PC?" - I don't have a PC, I have a Mac.

"Then, if you're not playing games, why do you watch Retro Replay?" - Well, I'm glad you asked! (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my impression of Victor Sullivan!)

Rob Paulsen, an actor who has given life to such characters as Yakko Warner of Animaniacs and Pinky of Pinky and The Brain, has a wonderful motto about life:

"Laughter is the best medicine, you can't OD and the refills are free!" 

That, my friends and fellow Replayers is the answer... 

When I said I've watched Retro Replay from Level 1, I mean I watched the very first episode when it aired. Before there was live chat and membership. I remember that night vividly... (insert dream sequence here) 

 

May 10, 2018

I had been in excruciating pain for a little over a week, and it was starting to affect my sleep. I planned to go to bed early, but the knife-piercing pain had other ideas. So I decided to peruse YouTube to find something to distract me. Just as I was about to watch my favorite Twisted Toonz video... (insert angelic choir) in my "recommendations" was  RETRO REPLAY - Amazing Spider-man vs. Nolan & Troy!

Nolan's bad day with Spider-Man.

Now, if you were to ask Nolan about this episode, he would say, "I don't want to talk about it!"  

Newer Replayers might ask, "Oh, is that when he broke the TV?" No, that will happen later.

The episode had me laughing so hard, needless to say, I forgot all about my pain, at least for a little while. It was then I realized that this was something I needed, and gave me something to look forward to every week no matter how bad my pain was. By the end of Level 1, my pain had been managed, and I was slowly on the mend.

 

Level 2 added something new… Live Chat!

At first, I wasn't too sure if I wanted to join in chat because of a lack of video game knowledge. They were all talking about a game called Uncharted and a guy named Nathan Drake. I, of course, had no idea who or what they were talking about. Then when asked, "What's the last game you played?" boy, the reaction I got when I said, "Duck Hunt," made me think that perhaps I was too old to chat with these young whippersnappers!

So, for a little while, I lurked until I found a way to make it fun.

No one paid attention, so I waited…

Someone else typed, "30 mins you guys." That encouraged me to continue.

That did it! I broke the chat… into laughter! For a while, there were some that thought the automated countdown was something Drew enabled in the chat. That, to me, is the greatest compliment.

 

March 15, 2020:  A date I shall always remember…

Nice tail!

That was quite an enjoyable day! I wore a white poet's shirt and black vest with skull and crossbones leggings, and the "pièce de résistance," a fishtail! (Seriously, check out the photo here.) The reason for the ensemble: I am a volunteer with a non-profit, and I was at an event to help raise money for it. (I'll tell you that story later.)

That was my last social event before the pandemic because of the nature of my disability: it puts me in the high-risk category. Solution: self-isolation. Not knowing how long it would last, at first I thought it would be a great opportunity to let the creativity flow, and there's always Retro Replay, right?

 

Level 3 changes like the tide of the sea… and adds Zoom meetings.

By April 2020, Retro Replay was in official lockdown. The hosts of Retro Replay were in their homes, and, through the internet, they showed us some special, never-before-seen content.

Then, one day, I saw tweets from other Replayers: half were sad, and half were angry and the rest were a mixture of both. Later that afternoon I got the email that Troy Baker was leaving Retro Replay. I'll be honest when I read that the first time it was like a punch to the gut. The show for me was my "happy place," and I love both Nolan and Troy like family and always will. At the time, I wondered if the show would survive?  

2020 can just go flush itself down the toilet!

While this was swirling around me, and my days began to blur, a lifeline was thrown to me in the form of a tweet from none other than @watery_tart19 herself, Brandy Brown. "The Happy Hour," as it came to be known, became a virtual hang-out for all Replayers! Ok, so it's not the holodeck in Star Trek, but it's the best we can do. I have met people from all over the country and around the world, something that would not have happened pre-COVID! I can't really tell you what goes on at the happy hour, but… let’s just say they made me their "designated driver!" 

See, I told you I had the shirt!

Why are you laughing? It's true! Look, I have a shirt to prove it!

Despite having the happy hour before the show on Thursdays (shameless plug) as well as Nolan, Drew, PJ, Paul, Stephanie, and Pagan picking the show up by the bootstraps and knocking it out of the park, I still felt stagnate in the pool of creativity. That's when another lifeline was thrown, and this time it came from Nolan North himself via Cameo from another Replayer named Melanie Steiner. Even now, tears are welling… words cannot express how much that video has meant to me. Since that video was sent to me, I have written 5 poems, and 3 have been published! I watch the video almost daily to keep me motivated. Spring turned to summer, then to fall. Sometime in October (it's my birthday, too), I received another video message from Nolan! This time it came from Charlotte Merritt through Retro Replay.

My hope for you, dear reader, is that you binge-watch all 3 seasons of Retro Replay to truly appreciate the show and its growth, and thereby see the growth within the community. Because it’s the people within the community that make the show possible. 

I also hope I was able to convey the love I have for Retro Replay and why I am very proud to say, "I am not a gamer, but I am a Replayer all the way!"

Who out there is a Replayer but not a big gamer? Share your own story in the comments!

 

Why In The World Would Anyone Play SIMS?

Disclaimer: Sims were definitely harmed in the writing of this article.

What is it about the virtual world of The Sims that has so many people captivated and willing to spend hours on a virtual version of themselves? Why would someone want to work and play in a virtual world or create a virtual family? Why would someone cook for their virtual selves and meet Sim friends instead of just actually doing those things? 

Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown says that playing games can serve as a healthy escape from everyday life. He also argues that it's a better alternative to other vices like alcohol and drugs. (source: Pemberton)

McKeown says, "The suggestion that we may spend more time in a virtual world than the physical one has been developing speedily over the years and has fast become a way in which we can live an alternative life in exactly the way we want.”

McKeown adds that there's a risk for people to “burn out” if they don’t have a suitable means of escape. Steve said that The Sims game series (Maxis and Electronic Arts, 2000-present) is a particularly positive way to do so because players can explore their lives or personality in a way they hadn’t previously.

The Sims can allow a person to escape social normality, its pressures and chronic stresses that are so prevalent in the real world, it allows the gamer to create a perfect reality in which they play the main character and have full control over the outcome

So that’s a psychoanalyst’s thoughts on why we might play The Sims. But let me tell you how I started playing.

For me, it had a lot to do with Star Wars. YES, Star Wars! They added a pack to The Sims 4 for you to be able to travel to Batuu. The area in the game looks like the fictional world of Batuu created at Galaxy’s Edge in Disney Parks. Why would I not want to create a version of myself that can wield a lightsaber? 

Star Wars smuggler Hondo talking to my SIM

In case you couldn’t tell, I am a huge fan of Star Wars! I downloaded The Sims 4 onto my PlayStation 4. I tried and tried to create a character on the PlayStation that would remotely resemble me. I couldn’t get the controls to work, so I answered a quiz and it just created a Sim -- that looked NOTHING like me! Rage quit number one in the books. 

I then moved to the PC version after being told by another Sims player that I should definitely not play on the PlayStation. I was able to figure out the controls much easier on PC to make a more customizable Sim.

Okay, let’s get started! Time to pick a job. Okay, I will be an office worker since that’s kind of what I do now. I let her make her own food and go to the bathroom when she needed to. Oh, wait... I had her start gaming and now she won’t use the bathroom in time. Well, that was interesting. CLEAN UP ON AISLE FIVE! 

Also, one day my Sim woke up and she was FAT! I didn’t know this could happen! I guess if you allow your Sim to only eat cheese for weeks and not work out that can and will happen. Reality check one. Okay, gym time, and let’s learn to cook. How is this an escape from real life? THIS IS REAL LIFE!

My Sim set herself on fire trying to cook. Multiple times. Enough to the point that she started dating a fireman. I mean, why not if he’s going to be there all the time anyway? 

I also had a Sim friend come over to my house to visit and DIE! I had no idea what to do with the urn, so it just sat there. In my living room. The grim reaper came to take her away and just hung out in my house. He sat on my couch brooding, reading my books, and just hanging around creeping everyone out! Thankfully he did not eat my food (he had probably heard about my cooking). Then, to top it off, my dead friend came back as an angry ghost and began yelling at me. 

SIMS fighting in Batuu

In the game, I've passed out from exhaustion. I've had visible smells emanating from my body that have driven people to the other side of the room due to poor hygiene. I've even had people walk in on me in the shower. What is happening? Is this how my life really is? Is this actually relaxing me and helping me disconnect from reality? 

 

So, I did the next logical thing. Rage quit number two in the books, and I created a new Sim because, let’s be honest, my first Sim was just cursed. I picked a job as an astronaut for the second Sim because what the hell? I even got a roommate, and she was quite proficient at putting out the fires I set while cooking. 

What Stormtrooper?

At this point, I've only just started playing, and I've only visited the Star Wars world of Batuu once. When I shared my misadventures with friends, I heard stories from other players on why your Sim should never be left unsupervised. 

 

Friend and Replayer Charlotte Merritt (aka Snapefantasy) said that she loves to build houses and almost always has a pool. She explained that if you have the Seasons pack you should definitely delete the pool during winter. Apparently, Sims do not know that they should not have a pool party in the dead of winter. 

Charlotte also said that, for her own stress relief, she would create a Sim in The Sims 3 and have them go swimming and delete the ladder. The inevitable would happen. Apparently, in The Sims 4, they learned to get out of pools without ladders (unless it’s cold of course). *Insert graveyard instead of the pool* 

Freezing to death at a pool party in winter

Stephanie Judge (the lovely editor for Retro Replay) said that in The Sims 3 she had one of her Sims die in someone else’s house fire. He was a firefighter. She had to go back to the person’s house to get his urn. She also had her Sims take it upon themselves to go to a pool party, in winter (I’m sensing a theme here). She said there were about 20 dead Sims and she had to wait for the reaper to plead for her Sims death. And the Sims kept climbing in the pool and dying, so she had to wait a while. 

Another time, Stephanie had a Sim die of heatstroke and a toddler playdate turned grim apparently. Not to worry folks, the toddler was resurrected. I think that's yet another argument against leaving your Sims unattended. 

Amelia's SIM

Amelia Brown, another friend, and Replayer said that she believes the game literally turned against her. She had managed to create a gorgeous Sim and had been playing her for almost two years. She liked her so much that she had her take the age-freeze potion to stop her from aging into middle adulthood. Whenever she lit the fireplace, house fires would break out, and she always died. Most times, she had just saved her progress, so she would just quit the game and restart to a point before the house fire. 

Amelia said she was also abducted by aliens, electrocuted, and struck by lightning. She even had to have a family member resurrect her after she died suddenly. Amelia eventually got tired of fighting death and began a new Sim, declaring it was safe to say that it was never meant to be. 

I asked each of these friends why they would subject themselves to this game of getting attached to these characters only for them to die in gruesome ways. Their responses reflect what psychoanalyst Steve McKeown was saying about the game. 

Charlotte says that The Sims is a great stress relief for her. 

Stephanie Judge's SIM lightsaber training

Stephanie loves to create her own worlds in The Sims as her occasional escape, and it’s a way for her to become whoever she wants to be. Stephanie spends most of her time creating the Sims and building their homes. She finds it very relaxing. With so many different Sims to play, whether it’s The Sims Medieval or the classic The Sims games, she says it’s a truly awesome gaming experience. 

Amelia adds to this by saying that she's a very creative person and, between character design or just creating a narrative around the characters, The Sims is a creative outlet. She says she likes to spend days creating a family with detailed backstories and traits. 

So, even though our Sims are obviously idiots (even if you give them an intelligent trait), we still continue to play them. And I’ll admit that it’s a guilty pleasure for me, too. Some days it’s just mindless entertainment to run or ruin the life of this poor moronic soul: making sure she just manages to cross the street without being hit by a car or getting her to the restroom in time. We do our best to take care of our Sims and probably give them a more entertaining life than we have. Mine is a Jedi! You can even buy packs, install mods, and create new and better kitchens, and yet your Sim will still manage to set themselves on fire, and I can’t help but laugh hysterically and then put her out. 

Retro Replay set with Nolan created by Amelia Brown

Why do you play The Sims or any kind of world-building, character-building game that gets you hooked? Are there any other games that you would consider a guilty pleasure that you put hours into? Leave comments below!

 

Retro Replayers Extra Life team raises over $1000 to help sick kids

Replayers came together this year to play games and raise money for kids. Extra Life is an organization of gamers that make individual and team fundraising efforts to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Each participant selects one of the 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals across the U.S. and Canada, including Puerto Rico. The funds each participant raises helps cover the costs of kids' hospital care beyond the cost of what Medicare and insurance will cover.

I was honored to serve as team captain for a dedicated and energetic team of Replayers, and I wanted to share our Extra Life 2020 story.

For me, it started back in 2017...

I have a friend who is a long-time team captain and passionate organizer in Extra Life. When I started streaming games on Twitch in 2017, I followed his example and joined Extra Life for fundraising. While participants can raise money throughout the year, most focus their goals toward "Game Day" on one Saturday each November. It's popular for streamers to do a 24-hour stream that day, either solo or with friends. My first year, I did a solo 24-hour run and, though I didn't have a lot of followers on Twitch, I raised a little over $100.

Back then, I thought it was a great cause, but it hadn't yet touched me personally. Then, at the end of 2018, I watched a young cousin, Hayes, at just three years, old fighting for his life in end-stage renal failure. He spent months in and out of hospital care while waiting for a kidney transplant. The last thing his vigilant and loving family needed to worry about was how much it was going to cost. 

Hayes is healthy today with no signs of kidney rejection. I passionately hope that any kid that goes through to get that same life-saving care without a crippling financial burden on the family. 

And here in 2020, COVID-19 has made a tremendous impact on all hospitals, including the CMN Hospitals. They've needed funds more than ever before as they've struggled to keep up with the pandemic.

Some numbers from the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

In 2020, I decided to make this a Retro Replay community event...

In late September, I committed to raise money for Extra Life again for 2020. This time, though, I not only had a small streaming audience, but I also had several friends in the Replayer community who were passionate gamers and streamers. Some of them had done fundraising streams before, too. I decided to make a team for us and organize a Game Day schedule for November 7, 2020. To my surprise, I immediately had 11 people enthusiastically join the team, and we had even more to jump in to help us during Game Day and beyond. 

Leading a team is something I was inspired to do by watching two other veteran Extra Life leaders. Marcus Summers, better known in the streaming world as Major Linux, is the leader of an Extra Life team in the greater Raleigh and Durham areas in North Carolina. That team primarily raises money for Duke Children's Hospital in Durham, though individual team members can always choose which hospital they want their individual goals to go toward. 

The other veteran that inspired me was Achievement Hunter's Jack Patillo. Jack, his wife, and his colleagues at Rooster Teeth put a lot of effort into planning and putting on Rooster Teeth's annual Extra Life 24-hour broadcast. Rooster Teeth has raised millions for Extra Life over the years, which has been a major factor in expanding services provided at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Rooster Teeth's community comes together to support that effort each year, and I knew the Retro Replay community would want to do the same.

The team was amazing! There was a great energy and dedication from everyone throughout the day.

On Game Day in 2020, our Retro Replayers team included an international crew: Aaron Bissonette, Amelia Brown, Brandy Brown, Ian Halliday, Maria Kinnun, Jen Miller, and the esteemed hosts of the Replayer Podcast, Pagan McGrath and Dan Morris. Andrew Lucy, who held his own charity stream in October for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, also joined some of the group play on Game Day. And in the weeks following Game Day, Ashkan Abousaeedi and Candace Bissonette held their own charity streams to raise money toward the team's goal.

The Roster on the team page shows our individual goals, which contribute to the team total.

For Game Day itself, we started with a 15-hour schedule on the Twitch streaming platform. There was a main schedule of events viewable from our team's 2020 Extra Life team page (at extra-life.org) throughout the day. That main schedule kicked off with a block of Apex Legends, followed by Uncharted multiplayer. Then, after a few rounds of Fall Guys, a big group joined in to play Among Us. The energy continued into a fun romp in Sea of Thieves and a spooky ghost hunt in Phasmophobia. The day wrapped up with fun adventures in ARK: Survival Evolved that kept going even beyond our original end time. 

Each main event was streamed by one or more of the participants and involved two or more members of the Extra Life team. Some members, including Jen and Ian (a charity stream veteran), streamed solo and continued raising money even when they weren't in one of the main events.

The Extra Life provides free tools for streamers like donation trackers that update in real time as donations come in.

The team was amazing! There was a great energy and dedication from everyone throughout the day. The events were packed with fun, and we all took the occasional technical difficulties in stride. 

By the end of Game Day, we had raised over $900 (US) for the kids. When 2020 ended, we had raised $1100. Overall, Extra Lifers have surpassed $16M in 2020. Even in a time where so many of us are finding it difficult to make our own ends meet, it's incredible to see so many people give what they can to this important cause.

On a final note, I want to express my tremendous gratitude to the team for bringing their best on Game Day and beyond, and for being passionate about helping the kids and reaching our goals. To those that donated, I can't thank you enough for giving what you can to help the kids this year.

In 2021, I hope even more Replayers will join the team and we can get started earlier in the year working toward our team goal. If you're a Replayer, and you love gaming, streaming games (on any platform), and helping charities like this, we encourage you to sign up at our 2021 team page so you're ready for when we get started in 2021.

Are you passionate about charity events? Do you do charity gaming or streaming? Leave a comment about what you're involved in so we can recognize our generous Replayers across the community!

See the About page at the CMN website for the latest numbers.