Video Gaming Community Gives Back: Extra Life 2014

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October 25th is the big day. It’s the day that thousands of gamers from around the world will log in to their video streaming apps and turn on their consoles to fight evil. Sure, they’ll fight the bad guys in their games, but they’ll also be fighting a bad guy bigger than any single game could possibly bring to the table. The 25-hour long video game playing marathon known as Extra Life raises money for hospitals that are a part of the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) in North America, helping kids and their families deal with deadly diseases and pay for their medical bills. Gamers can sign up as individuals or as teams, and they choose which CMN hospital their proceeds will go to.

One team that has garnered a lot of attention this year is the Destiny community. Made up of players of the new game by Bungie – the creators of the wildly popular Halo franchise – and headed by the staff of two of Destiny’s top community websites: Guardian Radio and Destiny Dispatch, the Destiny community team is hoping to make a big impact when they send their donations to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. The hospital also happens to be one that Bungie supports, so this is the fans’ way of giving back not just to the children, but also to the company that created the game which brought them all together. “If you make a drop in a bucket somewhere, if everyone does that, it’s going to make a difference everywhere. So you should really work towards bettering one hospital, and if everyone does that it’s good for everyone” said Destiny Dispatch Lead Writer David Weeks during an interview on October 5th.

It all started last August. Destiny Dispatch had fostered a sense of community among Destiny players since the game was announced in late 2012/early 2013. They quickly became friends with the founders of Guardian Radio, a site that produces weekly podcasts featuring news about the game. Guardian Radio approached Destiny Dispatch about getting involved in Extra Life, and the rest became history. The two groups did a live stream last year via the Twitch TV app, switching off with a gamer named Datto who runs a successful YouTube channel that specifically focuses on Destiny and has over 100,000 subscribers.

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This year they aim to ramp up their efforts, and have already surpassed their initial fundraising goal of $7,000 in addition to a plan that includes 12 different individuals or groups who will livestream from the team’s Twitch channel during the 25-hour marathon on October 25th. The main difference this year, according to Weeks, is that there are a lot more groups getting involved. “[Last] year was a little rough because the community was a lot smaller, and there weren’t as many organizations. There were a lot of individuals that now have organizations, but in 2013 it was a different story.”

Most teams involved in the Extra Life campaign will be playing a variety of games during the marathon, but the Destiny community team aims to play as much of their favorite game as possible. Byf, one of Guardian Radio’s podcasters and a Destiny-focused YouTuber in his own right, flew from his home in the UK to Seattle, Washington this summer to visit the children’s hospital and to meet with Bungie’s Community Manager, Deej. When he mentioned the Destiny community’s intention of making a team for Extra Life again this year, Deej was happy to donate some prizes for the team to give away during their livestream, and to feature them in a Community Focus article on the Bungie website and Destiny app. According to a recent Guardian Radio podcast, these prizes include everything from Bungie water bottles and swag bags to limited editions of the Destiny game. The prizes will be given away randomly along with numerous others from the individual live-streamers throughout the event, which will run from 8a.m. EST Saturday the through 8a.m. EST on Sunday.

“What we’re really good at is bringing everyone together” said Weeks. “I guess [it goes] back to one of the founding principles of the game itself: it’s all about you and your friends pulling together to tackle this big evil. We found Extra Life and we thought it would be a good idea to [band together for] a charity.” The Destiny community is just one of many teams that will go toe-to-toe with evil on Saturday. Anyone looking for more information on the Extra Life campaign and how to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network hospital of their choice can head online to the charity event’s website at www.extra-life.org.

Photo Cred: Destiny Dispatch

PRSA NY Mock Tribunal: Public Relations on Trial

   Back in September, my fellow PRSSA member Marinda and I left campus early and took the train into NYC for PRSA’s Mock Tribunal of Public Relations in honor of National Ethics Month. Ethics are values or moral principles in action. PRSA celebrates National Ethics Month each September to put the focus on ethics and how the Public Relations industry and continue to improve upon itself.

    The event was held at the SUNY Global Center, near Central Park in NYC. We took the train in from New Jersey and then the subway to a station a few blocks away from the event. It was my first time going on the subway ‘by myself’, as in, without someone who knew more about NYC than I did, and I found it surprisingly easy once I figured out how to navigate the subway station. 🙂

    When we arrived, we had missed the first half of the 30 minute networking wine & cheese reception, but we tried to do some networking anyway. We were surprised to see the diversity of the group that was there because our classes are almost entirely made up of white females. All the research suggests that PR is a female dominated industry, but the group that attended the even was the most diverse group of people I have ever seen in one place. After the networking event, we all filed into the conference room (pictured above), and the trial got underway.

      THE TRIAL

    The  above graphic is taken from PRSA NY’s website page about the event. I think it’s easier to show you that rather than try to explain each person.  Mr. Cohen was a great Judge. He did his best not to be biased, and kept the peace between the two sides. Mr. Holmes, the prosecutor, had a lot to say on behalf of the public against PR. He began by arguing to PR is just spin and deception. The defense, spearheaded by Mr. Schubert, said that PR takes ethics very seriously, and that despite a few bad apples, PR does not condone the use of spin or deception in their work. Helping a company put out a point of view is not deception, but merely subjective. Journalism is Objective, and PR is Subjective. PR has a responsibility as the conscience of the company to advice its leaders on ethical practices.

     The first witness for the prosecution was very heated. I have tremendous respect for her because she had the confidence to call PR the death of Journalism in front of a room filled with PR professionals. Holmes brought the point up that although he believes that PR professionals have good intent, he questions their follow through when it comes to ethical controversies. Witnesses for the defense Jaqueline Brevard and Steve Cody had some great comebacks, pointing out that compliance is the letter of the law, and that ethics goes beyond that because it’s values-based. They also cited numerous cases (without naming names of course) in which their companies had dropped clients who asked for or perpetuated unethical practices.

     The prosecution stated that the rise of Social Media took a lot of power away from Journalists, and that it also calls for a higher level of ethical behavior. The defense agreed, but also pointed out that Public Relations professionals do not necessarily get the last word about what goes out to the public. That’s the lawyers job.

     THE SOCIAL MEDIA ASPECT

    Throughout the trial, PRSANY encouraged us to use social media. It was crazy to see all these professionals paying attention to the trial and live-tweeting it at the same time! PRSANY had a person specifically tweeting for them, but just about everyone in the room was tweeting their opinions about the testimonies, and asked their own questions. The foreman of the jury was our voice and compiled our questions to ask at the end of the trial. Some of them were pretty funny! Besides the questions, it was just really cool to be able to talk to other people (some of who were watching the livestream!) about what was going on in front of us.

     THE VERDICT AND WHAT WE LEARNED

    We did a vote at the end of the trial and the verdict returned was not guilty. Both sides had very compelling arguments, and you can watch the whole trial online here! Marinda and I are even in it at the end because the guy sitting in front of us asked a question and the camera panned over to him with us in the background, haha!

    Marinda and I learned a lot that evening in NYC.  Some of the networking things we learned I’m including in a separate post, but we definitely learned about how fun a professional event can be, and that you can never do enough research. some of the arguments were citing PR campaigns that we had never heard of, which just served to intrigue us even more.

     If you are interested in Public Relations, I highly recommend attending some of the PRSA professional events in your area. I was truly amazing to see PR people in action. Again, you can watch the mock trial in full HERE.
Until next time,
Amanda