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Pink Day in LA: An Interview with Gamers Giving Back

Pink Day in LA, an annual event hosted by Gamers Giving Back, is fast approaching. On the 20th of October, Tyrians dressed in pink will gather in Lion’s Arch to take part in hours of fun events, winning prizes while they raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society – a charity which helps cancer research worldwide. I got to talk to the heads of Gamers Giving Back; Barbie, Lelling and Angel; about their biggest event of the year.

 

Can you tell us a bit about the origin of Pink Day in LA?

Barbie: Gosh, where do I start? Pink Day began in 2007 as a memorial event hosted by the DRGN guild in Guild Wars. The Lazy Geek (Mister Pink) and his family invited me to it. From there, the event happened yearly with Pink Dye being a mixture combo in-game. We gathered in Lion’s Arch for a moment of silence to remember those who had been lost to cancer.

In 2009, I spoke to The Lazy Geek about turning it into a charity event. Gamers Giving Back had been newly founded and he decided this would be a fantastic idea.

In 2010, ArenaNet added Pink Dye to Guild Wars and its in-game description noted it was supporting Breast Cancer Awareness. From there, Pink Day evolved into a general cancer charity on an international level to serve all members of our worldwide community.

In 2013, the name of the Pink Dye vendor was changed to Sadie Salvitas to honour the passing of one of the GGB volunteers — Jeannie, who had the in-game name of Sadie.

Would you like to say anything more about Sadie?

Barbie: Sadie was a really great volunteer who went above and beyond her duties to support everyone at GGB. She volunteered through the loss of both her mom and sister to cancer and she never backed down from volunteering even while going through chemo treatments.

She was the epitome of an angel and an amazing person. It was an honor to have her in my life as both a gamer and a friend.

 

How difficult is it to pull off simultaneous events in both Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2?

Barbie: Lately it can be difficult as most of us are playing Guild Wars 2. The transition was kinda crazy.

Around that time the populations must have been high in both games.

Barbie: Yes, but now Guild Wars is like a memorial spot for Pink Day. We plan to have a moment of silence there.

I don’t want to abandon the beginnings of Pink Day — the legacy is important! There are tons of volunteers who all had a part in the continuation of Pink Day, so hopefully this can be a way of thanking them as well.

Lelling: It’s definitely a lot of work, especially if it all falls down to one person, but fortunately there’s a big team of people and communities helping out. Barbie used to do a crazy amount of stuff for a couple of years, but now we have a very modular structure which allows for a guild, community or volunteer to ‘host’ the event under the umbrella of Gamers Giving Back without it needing to be completely organised by one of the GGB leads.

What are the differences between the two events? Is there one that you prefer?

Barbie: We carried over the costume contest and trivia from the first game. Guild Wars is going to be a memorial place now though – as we have a hard time getting volunteers there, moving forward.

I’ve watched some videos of the original Pink Days. They looked like amazing parties!

Barbie: Yes, the gathering in pink and having a supportive place for players to share their sentiments was probably the best part of Guild Wars Pink Day.

 

Angel: I haven’t played Guild Wars, but I love the Guild Wars 2 events we do and how much we’re able to engage with the community while doing some good for the world.

Barbie: There have been some amazing events that have emerged in Guild Wars 2 because of the dynamic the game.

What kind of events?

Barbie: My favorite event that emerged was Strike A Pose because of the fun box.

Angel: And the diving competition because we can jump off of things and swim! My favorite event is probably Master Chef/Great Tyrian Bake-Off, because there’s so much food you can make and so many people go for either the highest level food or the lowest level food and then the people that make the mid level food usually win, because no one else makes it.

Lelling: I love the Bake Off, it’s an absolute blast! The food in Guild Wars 2 looks so good, I always get hungry when cooking in-game!

 

What attention has Pink Day in LA received outside of the games?

Angel: This year, we do have a representative from the Canadian Cancer Society on the NA servers. She’ll be in-game to help answer questions about cancer, where the funds go, etc. This is the first year that a representative from CCS will be in-game during the events. In the past, we’ve interviewed them on-air.

Barbie: We always try to get someone on-air to answer questions about the charity group.

Have members of the Canadian Cancer Society spoken to you about their impressions of the Guild Wars 2 community or Pink Day in LA?

Barbie: They LOVE Pink Day. What I got through feedback is that the concept was new but exciting and they wanted to support it any way they can! In the past, the Canadian Cancer Society has shared our event as a unique fundraising idea.

 

I later got to talk to Aurora Marinari, a Fundraising Coordinator and the direct contact liaison between the Canadian Cancer Society and Gamers Giving Back. Here’s what she said about Pink Day:

Aurora: This is my first year coming into it and so far I love it. It’s a really fun community and an interesting way to raise funds for a great cause. At first I was really confused by the event, but Rhonda (Barbie) did such a fabulous job explaining its purpose and how it works.

I love the idea of confronting the gamer stereotype and flipping it so people can see all the good they do. And I know my co-workers love seeing the donations come in from all over the world. It’s fun to see how far the community stretches.

 

How has ArenaNet been involved with the event and what was your reaction to their support?

Angel: ArenaNet has been amazing in their support for Pink Day. I remember watching the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns announcement and Colin Johanson giving Pink Day and Malibu Barbie a shoutout and freaking out. Like OMG, that was crazy.

Last year, one of the devs actually helped judge the Fashion Contest on one of the NA servers and that was crazy too.

A lot of devs show up to the event and lend their support and backing for Pink Day.

Mike Z joined us for the Quaggan Waddle to show that ArenaNet was supporting Pink Day in LA and Gamers Giving Back. Like that’s the Game Director. Holy cow.

 

What are some of your fondest memories of Pink Day in LA?

Barbie: One of my fondest memories was the little boy who told me that he saved his allowance so that he could donate to Pink Day and he got his dad to help him donate!

Lelling: It’s hard to put my finger on just one, but I think the best memories of Pink Day are always the messages we get from people. When it’s clear that it’s not ‘just a game,’ that actual people’s lives are affected by the things we do.

Barbie: I’m always humbled by the cancer survivors and the people who have lost someone to cancer that reach out to me and share the fact that this event gives them some hope and solace.

Angel: I think some of my fondest memories are when people are talking and sharing their stories on TeamSpeak and in map chat, and it’s just like a moment of realization that what we’re doing is really changing lives and connecting people with each other.

 

Why would you encourage our readers to get involved with Pink Day in LA and other Gamers Giving Back events?

Barbie: The biggest thing I can always say about getting involved is this: Gamers are often stereotyped in a negative way. Be giving back on an international forum, we can truly show the world that we have big hearts and that our communities can create change.

The second sentiment is: Volunteering is a powerful tool that everyone has available to them. By joining Gamers Giving Back, you can play the games you love and make a difference. It’s a win-win situation.

That was actually the foundation of why I created GGB.

Angel: I would encourage everyone to get involved with what Gamers Giving Back is doing. We are making changes in the world and changing the way the world looks at gamers in general. Gamers Giving Back is about being a part of something larger than yourself and doing some good in the world.

We’re not just trying to put an end to cancer, we’re also looking to end MS and give hope to our LGBTQ+ friends. We’re envisioning a world without cancer. A world where love is love and everyone can be loved. Where crippling diseases don’t define us. And, like Barbie said, we can play games and make a difference in the world. There’s nothing better than that.

Lelling: We’re living in a time where a lot of people are having a hard time feeling positive about the future and things can sometimes feel pretty scary. To me, one of the most important things about Games Giving Back and the events we do is the reminder that even though we can sometimes feel powerless and insignificant, we can make a change.

Ten years ago, nobody would have believed something like this could even exist. But it does, because of a few individuals and their actions. It’s a reminder that anyone can get involved; anyone can contribute and have a net positive impact on the world.

I hope that people will not only feel encouraged to join the event or volunteer to help us with future events, but are also inspired to start their own groups, communities and organisations. Connect with other people, both offline and online. Don’t think you are powerless. You are not. Whether it’s in Guild Wars or some other MMO or your local place of residence — be active in your community. Help each other, show compassion and work towards the change you want to see in the world!

I would like to thank Barbile, Lelling and Angel for this fantastic interview. Pink Day in LA takes place on the 20th of October. For more information, check out their official website.

See Also: Tyria Pride: An Interview

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