8 November 2015

If you're visiting this site, chances are that you're a Tomb Raider fan, and as a Tomb Raider fan you probably have already visited Stella's Tomb Raider Walkthroughs plenty of times in search for that hidden secret that's just a little too hidden or the solution for a puzzle. She owns one of the longest-running TR fansites and, since it's creation in 1998, has been an active member of the community. In recent years she started up the Extra Life Team Tomb Raider Community group, which has raised over $7,000. A little while ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Stella about her experiences as Captain of the group and her plans this year.

As part of the Extra Life article I wrote, I contacted three members of Team Tomb Raider Community and asked if I could interview them about their plans for this year, motivations and challenges. The article is live now, but you can read Stella's full interview below:

Tell us about yourself!

I've been playing Tomb Raider since shortly after the first game came out and doing walkthroughs at tombraiders.net for nearly 18 years now. Obviously I'm a huge fan of the series, but I'm equally enthusiastic about promoting community among the fans. Extra Life is a great way to bring players together for a good cause.

This year is going to mark your fourth charity livestream for Extra Life, what have you learnt over the years of running it?

For those who aren't familiar with the event itself, Extra Life is a video game marathon to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It's sort of like a walk-a-thon or fun run but instead of doing an actual sport, the participants recruit sponsors and then earn their donations by playing games for 24 hours. The Tomb Raider community team is just one of thousands in the whole Extra Life event, which last year included more than 50,000 gamers and raised over $6 million.

As for what I've learned, I think the main thing is to stay flexible. I wish I could say I had some sort of grand plan, but to be honest, whenever I try and schedule things too rigidly there's always some technical glitch, time zone issue, or other problem. It's a challenge coordinating players from different countries, playing on different systems, with different levels of equipment and technical ability. So I just try and stay loose and roll with whatever happens. The main thing is to make everyone--both players and spectators--feel welcome and of course to encourage donations. That's why we're here.

What motivates you to do it each year?

My number one motivation is the kids. My son has always been healthy--practically indestructible, in fact!--but my heart goes out to the families of sick and injured children. It's a stressful situation, and the last thing they should have to worry about is money. Our efforts help provide treatment for kids without health insurance or whose insurance doesn't cover all the care they need. It also helps hospitals acquire much-needed equipment to make kids' hospital stays easier and help them get better faster.

What's the biggest challenge with arranging the livestream?

For me it's the technical side. I've managed to figure out the basics for my own streaming, but I'm no wizard. When other players have trouble with their setup or their internet, there's not a lot I can do to help. I encourage people to test, test, test beforehand, but even then there are always unforeseen issues. After that, it's coordinating all the players in their different time zones. It's great being a part of a worldwide fandom, but with people in North America, Europe, Australia, and all over the place, things can get a little crazy.

What's the weirdest thing you're experienced while running the livestreams?

Well, there have been a few hilarious game glitches and plenty of sloppiness brought on by late hours and long stretches at the keyboard, but so far we've been pretty fortunate not to have had any major mishaps. You have to expect the unexpected though. That's part of the fun of livestreaming. Anything can happen--and probably will!

What tips would you give to someone taking part in it for the first time?

Start small. You don't even have to livestream if you can't or don't want to. Many players do their Extra Life gaming offline. Some play on their own, some with friends or family, some even play mobile games, board games, or tabletop games. There are lots of options. Livestreaming is just one of them.

Same with the fund raising. Set a small goal at first, but try to remember that the donations are the reason we're here. You're not asking for yourself; you're asking for the charity, so don't be shy. Ask a lot of people to sponsor you for a small amount and the donations will add up.
I should also clarify that I'm thrilled to have guest players on the livestream who aren't raising money. Not everyone has the same connections, and people who live outside of North America, where Children's Miracle Network Hospitals are based, will probably not be able to get as many donations, but every bit helps. If you can't collect donations yourself, maybe team up with another player and encourage donors to support that person.

Finally, if you're thinking about participating in Extra Life and have any questions at all, please read our Extra Life FAQ feel free to contact me. I'm happy to answer and I'd love to have more people on the Tomb Raider team!

Any teasers you can give about what you're planning for this year's event?

The official Extra Life marathon is November 7. My plan is to do a few test streams beforehand to troubleshoot my setup and encourage other people to get involved. If all goes well, I'll be streaming the Ireland levels from Tomb Raider Chronicles on Halloween. Then on the 7th we'll be taking turns streaming all day and through the night.

A few team members are doing their own separate livestreams on the 7th and in the days leading up to it. You can check out the team roster here. Click each player's name to see what they're up to.

And of course THERE WILL BE PRIZES! The first two years I did giveaways during the livestream, but that turned out to be too chaotic. So now we run a raffle for a few weeks surrounding the event. Anyone can enter, but people who donate to Extra Life receive bonus entries. Thanks to Crystal Dynamics, GOG.com, and a few generous individuals, we're well stocked with prizes. Details will be announced in a few weeks.

Please visit the Tomb Raider Community Extra Life Team page for more information, to sign up to play, or to make a donation.

People can also follow me on Twitter, Twitch, and my blog for updates and contact me through my website if they have any questions.

Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers. I hope to see some of you during Extra Life!



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