In this Slogging AMA, the team at Hackernoon talks to Samantha Robertell, a marketing manager at Gamers Outreach. Gamers Outreach is a non-profit charity that empowers sick children in hospitals through video game software and equipment provision.
Please check out Gamers Outreach here.
This Slogging thread by Jack Boreham, Samantha Robertell, Limarc Ambalina and Mónica Freitas occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.
Hey @channel, please join me in welcoming our next AMA guest, Samantha Robertell, a marketing manager at Gamers Outreach. Gamers Outreach is a charity that empowers children in hospitals through video game equipment and software.
Please feel free to ask Samantha anything about:
Hi Samantha Robertell; thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? To start things off.
Hi Jack! Thank you so much for having me! A little bit about myself well, I currently work in the non-profit space between gaming and health care. Our mission is to bring video games to hospitalized children and families everywhere. I've been around the gaming space for the past ten years and have enjoyed seeing everything grow!
I enjoy rock climbing
I have a cute cat named Momo - she's the best
I'm super hard-stuck Silver in League of Legends but still, enjoy playing 😄
Hi Samantha! Thanks for joining us! So how did you get involved with gamers outreach, and where did your journey into the gaming industry begin?
Hi Limarc Ambalina! My journey has been very sporadic, to say the least. I started ten years ago reffing and adminning online Call of Duty tournaments. That was my big intro to the gaming industry. From there, I did odd jobs, customer service, etc. At the same time, moving around the country - impulsively, haha. My big break didn't come until about three years ago when I was introduced to someone at DreamHack and was hired on as a Social Media Event Coverage person. My ties with DreamHack sort of streamlined my intro into Gamers Outreach due to overlapping partnerships within the space! I ended up meeting Zach Wigal, our founder, at a DreamHack Anaheim event I was working. Coincidentally, they needed some coverage and a Marketing Manager. 🙂 The rest is history!
A pleasure to have you here, Samantha Robertell. That's superb! Can you go into more detail about what Gamers Outreach does, such as some of the projects it has carried out to help children in need?
Also, what a great name for a cat 😂. I've never managed to get into League; what made you get into it? 😄
Unfortunately, rock climbing is not for me as I'm terrified of heights haha.
Yes, happy to share more! Gamers Outreach provides video games to children via mobile kiosks we like to call GO Karts or "Gamers Outreach Karts." These Karts are easy to wipe down so hospital staff can move them from patient to patient. They also come equipped with a monitor, controllers, and a console that's loaded up with 10-15 games such as Rocket League, Minecraft, and Madden.
We also have a volunteer program, Player 2. Due to COVID, Player 2 has been on pause, but this is a program in which gamers can act as a helping hand to hospital staff. They can service GO Karts, answer questions, and play video games with patients!
League - a friend of mine got me into it, and I just got sucked in! I love the lore and the champions a ton. Top champions that I play currently are Lulu, Nami, and Leona - all support champions 😄
Rock climbing doesn't have to be based around heights, either! You can venture into what is called "bouldering." This is just climbing on a wall that's about 12-15 feet tall!
Hey Samantha Robertell! Thank you for being here! What are the main challenges in developing marketing strategies for a charity organization? Also, what's your favorite part about what you do?
Hi Mónica Freitas! For myself, the biggest challenge is always the unexpected bump in the road. For instance, we recently wrapped up a month-long fundraiser in which we were expected to have around 100-150 broadcasters join us. The unexpected bump was that we ended up having over 500 broadcasters participate, which challenged us to shift gears completely in our marketing efforts and pinpoint priority engagement and social direction. It's always great to have a plan in place, but, in my opinion, something can ALWAYS change those plans.
As far as my favorite part - I love our cause. I joined the team because I believe in making a difference for patients. I've been in the hospital a couple of times as an adult, and it's lonely, especially during these times with COVID still lingering. Video games give kids the chance to be themselves, engage socially with family members or even hospital staff, and just give them a second to dive into any world they want.
That's awesome, Samantha! At the moment, is the gaming hardware donated mostly by the manufacturers themselves? Sony, Microsoft or from like retailers?
Also, how do you think the rise of video game streamers has changed the industry and your marketing tactics?
Samantha Robertell, wow, what an amazing organisation and such great projects. So I know when we last talked on my podcast, the Rock had involvement with the Gamers Outreach Karts and Xbox. Can you explain a bit more about his involvement 😄
Also, when do you think player two will get up and running again? I might try bouldering!! My sister loves it, haha. Any tips if I did want to start playing League? For a newbie 😂.
Great question, Limarc Ambalina! Gaming hardware can be donated by manufacturers, but it's not as frequent as you may think. In the cost of a GO Kart, the cost of the console is included as well. There have been instances where Xbox has donated 10-20 consoles for larger activations, though!
The rise of streamers has changed the entire game, and this past fundraising effort is a real testament to that. While the streaming market and feel oversaturated from a creator standpoint, it allows us to reach out to more people about our cause. Our Development team works hard to invite a multitude of people to support our cause and that, in turn, exposes new audiences to our mission. So it's all been very positive for us!
Ah yes, Jack Boreham! It's been one full year since our activation with The Rock and Xbox. In that time 20, GO Karts were delivered to hospitals with these cool Xbox Series X and S's that had The Rock's signature on them. So this activation was around helping others while also sharing the latest console from Xbox 😄
We're unsure of when Player 2 will return. It will all be on the hospital's terms of when they're allowing visitors again.
Tips... I recommend playing with a friend who can teach you the macro side of the game! I also recommend playing a support role first, as their role is a bit different when it comes to the economy. You're able to focus more on the champs you're playing against and less on having to last hit minions while also learning new aspects of a game.
Samantha Robertell Thank you for your answers. That was a big turnout. It must be exhilarating seeing an event or fundraiser reach bigger crowds than you've anticipated. I imagine that planning your marketing efforts for a charity is a bit different than doing it for a corporation - maybe you have fewer funds for big marketing efforts, for instance. What would your advice be for someone starting their professional journey in marketing? What were those key lessons you've learned throughout your career and that you wish you'd know sooner?
Samantha Robertell Do you usually adapt the games for different ages? Kids most love having that bit of fun while they have to stay at a hospital.
Samantha Robertell, wow, it must have been incredible to get him on board. Have you had any more celebrities or influencers team up with Gamers Outreach? Also, I heart that gamers outreach just had a fundraiser. Can you tell us a bit more about that? 😄
Okay, I might jump in! You convinced me, haha. So are Moba games like league your go to? Would you jump into other MOBAS like Dota? Are you a big fan of any other genres?
Mónica Freitas So my first job in marketing was for a digital agency. I was brand new and worked my way up to managing our top clients - we were smaller, but it still was a big deal! My boss always told me to imagine you're working with unlimited funds. If you could do anything for your client, anything at all, what can you come up with creatively for them? Then, scale it down. With our Halloween event, there was a lot of "what if we could BE in a retro video game." With lower funds, it's more along the lines of, "how do we make this feel like a spooky retro/arcade feeling?"
TLDR; Pretend you have unlimited funds and even if you think your idea is bad, share it with someone.
The games we have on our GO Karts are great for all ages! We don't carry any M rated games due to age restrictions. You'll often time find most kids playing NHL, Rocket League, Minecraft, even Pacman!
Yes, Jack Boreham! We recently wrapped up our month-long fundraiser, the Spooktacular Streamathon. 👻 This was an event in which we had creators fundraiser in support of our cause each day in October. Some creators and organizations chose to fundraise for more than a day, but our ask was just a minimum of one day. We raised $771K, which is incredible for us. These funds will help us to expand globally, bring GO Karts to new hospitals, and more! You can see highlights here: https://gamersoutreach.org/spooktacular-2021/.
League is my first and only MOBA! I had a deep love for Call of Duty years ago but eventually transitioned out of MP FPS. These days, I play many calming single-player games like Cozy Grove, Stardew Valley, etc. I recently picked up Eastward and am looking forward to diving more into it when I have some free time!
Samantha Robertell Stardew Valley is addicting. It’s the first time I was ever sucked into a farming simulator. The wife and I play it together split-screen all the time!
I love that! My husband recently picked it up on his phone, and he was sucked in too!
Samantha Robertell, wow, what an amazing amount raised! Can people still donate to the fundraiser? Also, how do you go about getting creators to join the fundraiser and stream? Same! There is great comfort in playing warmer, more calming games, especially with winter coming up.
The fundraiser is over, but people can always donate to our cause by visiting our website! http://www.gamersoutreach.org 😄
And yesssss COZY GAMES ALL THE WAY.
Samantha Robertell, that's amazing. Thank you! That's a wrap on this AMA. Thank you, Samantha, for joining us; it has been a pleasure to have you. As you mentioned, we can donate through the website above, any other places our readers can check out! Or any closing thoughts? 😄
Thank you for having me! As always, people can follow us on socials, @gamersoutreach, to see what we're up to. We're excited for the future of gaming in healthcare and can't wait to share the awesome things we're working on!