Changing the World One Heart at a Time #ExtraHeart

The last few weeks I’ve been brainstorming ways to use the awesome power of gaming to actually, you know, help people.

Came up with a few ideas to just help the poor as well, not really associated with gaming. So here’s the list of what I’m thinking about creating. Feel free to use any of these ideas locally to help people in your community!

  1. Short video series about what’s different about poverty in developed countries. Why is it so tough to affect lasting change? Would have to offer positive solutions and be entertaining.
  2. Charity that provides vouchers for haircuts, manipedi, waxing, or connects esthetician/hairstyling students seeking experience to homeless people who need makeovers, etc. “Look Good Feel Better” for people who don’t have cancer but are recovering from severe life changes like homelessness or other big scary transitions. You’re not going to go confidently into a job interview or important appointment with ragged hair and no makeup! Plus looking like you take care of yourself subconsciously makes people treat you better.
  3. Charity that supplements the help foodbanks provide by giving grocery store gift cards so people on assistance can buy perishables, not just be given cans ignoring special dietary needs, etc. Need to brainstorm ways to prevent abuse of the system by government.
  4. Teach new media/game development skills to homeless women and at-risk youth by building up a library of new media teaching materials on dvd and laptop then going in to pre-existing computer labs and helping people learn by going through the material together. Could be combined with opensource efforts like Blender, GIMP, Inkscape.
  5. Charity that helps people moving on from shelters to housing repair broken social networks by helping them play team-based videogames together. Provides a computer, internet for a year, and a game subscription to their choice of Rift, TERA, WoW, SWTOR, DDO, LOL. Encourages them to use social media to write about their experiences making friends online where nobody has to know their past.
  6. Charity that takes videos of people on the street and gathers their stories. Then helps connect them to agencies and programs that actually help and provides long-term advocacy. If there are no programs to help people like them, fundraises online for their specific needs using those video interviews.
  7. Charity Gaming Marathon “Barnraisings” to help people locally fundraise for poor people in their area, with the monies raised going directly to people in need chosen by the marathoners themselves – not some big charity company that gives money to other charities and nobody ever knows the impact on real people’s lives.

Now, to evaluate these ideas for what I can do RIGHT NOW and START SMALL:

  1. Run a gaming marathon myself and stream it, run another in say, six months, with better publicity – Check
  2. Make webcam video talks about the issues surrounding poverty in the developed world and put them on youtube – Writing ideas down now, check
  3. Grab some tutorials about how to learn to make indie games, and go start a club at my local community centre’s computer drop-in. (This would mostly help at-risk youth just because of the area but it would be open to anyone who drops by.)

Now, are these ideas doable? Are they HELL YEAH ideas?

  1. Hell yeah!
  2. Have webcam, have things to talk about in an informative and entertaining way, but kinda scared people might not listen if I don’t look presentable. (Haircut, makeup, showered, clean clothes – yes, those things are all challenges for me at times due to the extreme fatigue.)
  3. I’d LOVE to do this, however getting out of the house physically is sometimes a big challenge! Other challenges? Check with the staff about putting the free software on their computers, then just hope to not be too sick to show up to my own club once or twice a month. LOL!
    Maybe I can make a website with links to the resources and be available on skype when I physically can’t walk two blocks to get there, although I’m still worried about it being perceived as disinterest or laziness or all the nasty words people threw at me hurtfully not realizing I have a real, physical illness just because I still look pretty and skinny.

Media Fast FAIL, Poverty and the SWTOR Beta – Day 22

So, follow through on this media fast thing continues to be a horrible struggle. Self-discovery continues to pour in from the attempt but I’m at the verge of abandoning it.

Why? Quite simply, I game to connect with people.

Yeah, yeah, it’s sad. Cue typical gamer images of an overweight overgrown boy in his parent’s basement. I’m neither overweight nor a boy, however I would be living in my parent’s basement if I had parents and if they had a basement. So I do fit the stereotype that much: I don’t get out much, I’m sick a lot, and the sun, it is bright. Very. Ouch.

Daily meditations get missed when I’m sick. It happens. Getting back into them when I found out that SWTOR lifted NDA and is having a big beta stress test this weekend? Goood luck with that.

There are no purple Twi’lek in SWTOR:

Actually I’m pretty thankful for this. It gives me an excuse to not buy the game when I can’t afford to anyway. So I’ll just be testing, evaluating from the viewpoint of someone who is a Bioware fan and a mild Star Wars fan, someone who loved KOTOR and KOTOR II. But I’m not going to have to give up Rift to get a subscription, because there’s no purple Twi’lek and I can’t make the character I’d want to make in it because of that.

Some guildies really love it so far, preordered, and are leaving Rift for it. Other guildies are NOT coming from the attitude of fanboi squeee and aren’t very impressed at all.

It would have been an amazing game 4-5 years ago. I’m feeling that Bioware’s inexperience actually making MMOs has combined in a bad way with EA’s general… um… well it’s EA. Douchiness is a word right?

Just from reading about it, there’s a few things I do like. One, all healing is capable. Two, all tanking is mitigation, with variances in playstyles more than in tanking capability. Three, force lightning is JUST AWESOME.

But, no purple Twi’lek. No va.

Soooo Media Fast? Meditation? Hellloooo!

During all this, I feel guilty for falling off the schedule I set for myself. For logging on Saturdays for guild runs, then Saturdays and Tuesdays. For spending one whole day (a Monday!) reading up on SWTOR races and classes and gameplay styles, and arranging on Twitter for preparations to play together once the upcoming beta test actually starts.

But each time I fail in this task I set for myself, it’s telling me what’s really important to me. And it’s also telling me I don’t have enough of that in the “real life” part of things.

My guildies, my games, they mean a ton. That’s why I was crying at what happened to Codex at The Guild‘s Season 5 Finale, because I can relate, but also because I’m sad that can never happen to me. If it did I’d have to say I’m too sick to do it.

On to the Occupy Movement:

To not be too sick anymore? First off I don’t even know if that’s possible. If it were, well, here’s the costs to live a basic contributing life where I am, that someone with a job would have to spend in order to get the job, keep the job, and de-stress from the job.

Rent (even just a room is usually 850-1600!): $950
Telecommunications: 120
Transportation (in a city where you don’t need a car but can’t bike): 140
Looking to other people like I respect myself and take good care of myself (AKA clothing, makeup, shaving, haircuts, hygiene): 80
Food (I eat like a bird now, but if I was more active I’d need more calories): 300
Being fit and healthy (supplements, gym memberships or equipment, gym clothes, dental work): 100
Entertaining locally (going out for dinner, throwing parties, omgpeople, occasional pedicures, gifts): 120
Gaming (one mmo sub, savings for new games): 20

That’s $1830 for a regular gamer kind of life, which means an income of $2000 a month to be able to pay taxes. $24k a year doesn’t sound like a lot does it? It’s not, it’s the poverty line in Canada for a single person.

On assistance, the maximum a single person can get is $640 a month, that’s if their rent is $350 or greater and they’re well enough to volunteer. People on assistance can’t even afford to eat, look for work, or look like they care about themselves. Much less make or connect with friends by going out to dinner or the movies, entertaining with parties, or giving gifts.

On top of that, good luck finding a room for rent for less than $700 a month. Yes, that’s more than most people even get in total. So they’re forced to the streets and shelters because they can’t even rent a room.

Where’s the poverty line compared to that amount? Can you even afford to look for work? What about getting a haircut, a manicure, something to show your employers they’re getting someone with self-respect and attention to detail? What about food?

What about dignity?

No chance.

This is why I support the 99%, because I’m personally in the 2% at the bottom of the 99%. The 2% lowest income in the world. I live on a third world income in a first world country, despite being smart enough to figure out how to work a computer. I’m sure it’d be luxury over there. Here, I have luxury of rich people’s castoff stuff, but I can’t afford food and gave up having a phone. Again, how do you look for work when you’re too sick to volunteer, not sick enough for disability, and you don’t even have a phone?

Welfare is the modern world government’s answer to the PR disaster of concentration camps. It’s Auschwitz without walls, without gas chambers, without guards.

You can walk out of it any time, but where do you go?