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Kristin Lindsay makes child's play of WoW. In fact, she makes child's play of gaming in general and even of her work. That's because Child's Play, the charitable organization that brings games, books and cash to sick kids in children's hospitals across North America, is her work. As project manager at Child's Play, Kristin helps the organization raise millions of dollars worth of toys and cash for children's hospitals and put a positive face on gamers and gaming. Child's Play was created by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of the online comic strip Penny Arcade. This year, the group has raised $1,302,367, shooting to surpass last year's $1.5 million total.
We dove into a niche in Kristin's busy season to visit with her about her WoW habit, her work with Child's Play and how we WoW players can help Child's Play achieve a record-breaking year for hospitalized kids.
Main character Reddaux
Guild Witness Protection
Server Shattered Halls-A
15 Minutes of Fame: Before there was Child's Play, there was WoW. How did you get started playing WoW, Kristin?
Kristin Lindsay: I've played WoW since launch, and I can't say how I "got into it" because I don't think there was ever the question that I might not. I play with my husband, and we went straight from 1-60 with the same characters (Disc priest and warrior) on a PvE server, no guild. It wasn't until PvE-to-PvP server transfers opened up that we moved our mains to Shattered Halls (PvP) so that we could join my office guild. At that time, my husband decided to switch his main, and now he plays a mage.
I love raiding, entirely because our guild are all friends, and we're very tight. My guild family makes the game awesome for me. We do a lot of fun and silly stuff together. I generally serve as main tank heals and love playing a support role for my extremely talented guildies. Even though we play on a PvP server, I'm not into the PvP scene and I don't play on an Arena team, although our guild does field a couple. I have a few alts, but I pretty much stick with my priest.
And Child's Play? How did you become involved there?
I started working for Penny Arcade (the webcomic founders of Child's Play) back in 2003, as part of the Penny Arcade Expo team. In 2005, we realized that Child's Play was going to need a full-time project manager, and I was excited to be chosen to take that job on.
Is this a year-round effort?
Absolutely! While the toy drive component of Child's Play is a seasonal effort each fall, donations still pour in year round, and there is always a lot of interest in the project year-round.
We understand you just finished with Child's Play biggest charity event of the year.
Our big event that we stage each December is the annual Child's Play Charity Dinner Auction. It's a formal evening hosted by Gabe and Tycho of Penny Arcade, and we dress up, have a marvelous dinner as well as silent and live auctions. For the auction items, we are fortunate enough to get huge support from the videogame industry, and they generously donate thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of rare and unique game-related items that we can auction off for the kids. It's an absolute blast of an evening.
You must run into some truly heart-wrenching stories through this work. Do you meet many hospitalized kids themselves?
I have visited a couple of our partner hospitals to see Child's Play donations in action and have received so much feedback from parents and hospital workers about the impact Child's Play has. Yeah, I've heard some pretty heart-breaking stories in the process. Something that we have to face is that not every child's story has a happy ending, and the fact that some parents take time from their grieving to write us and let us know how important those games were to their son or daughter at the end ... Man. It's so very humbling, and it's so touching to have them let us know what it meant to them.
What's happened or who have you met through your work with Child's Play that has left you nodding and saying "Now THAT was cool ..."?
You are talking about something that happens every day in my job. If I'm trying to pick one thing, I'd probably say that we have some really awesome game and comic world celebrities attend the Child's Play dinner each year (Major Nelson, the Frag Dolls, Scott Kurtz, etc.), and it's hard not to go all fan-girly sometimes. Wil Wheaton has attended for several years as well, and I fail completely to rein the fan-girl in when I see him each year. Sorry, Wil.
Has your being a WoW player opened up relationships and outreach for Child's Play?
Child's Play was founded by gamers and is still run by gamers, and I can't imagine that not being the case. The heart of Child's Play is that it's by gamers, for gamers, and it wouldn't be right if the people behind the charity didn't understand that culture. We know how powerful a guild can be when they pull together for a fundraiser. We understand when a guild wants to donate a dozen Nintendo DSes in their guild color. I can get sidetracked during interviews and end up talking about our Ulduar progress for an hour ... and it's simply because we're all gamers, too. I feel genuinely honored to be able to represent my culture and community to our partner hospitals, and I'm grateful for every opportunity to do so!
What have you been up to in game most recently? Any thoughts on the new 3.3 content -- have you even had a chance to check it out?
Oh, SO CRUEL! With the patch dropping on the same day as our dinner auction this year, I haven't had much chance to check out the new content ... aside from gleefully grabbing my new Core Hound Pup and picking up a Calico Cat and an Albino Snake. I'm a rampant mini-pet collector, I couldn't help a quick sneak online while I was supposed to be working. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.
What's next on the agenda for Child's Play?
Hopefully we'll keep doing more of the same! We're honored to be the charitable voice of the gaming community. Ideally, we'll be able to keep expanding and serve more hospitals and more children every year.
'Tis the season, and all that ... How can WoW players best contribute through Child's Play during the holidays?
WoW players can visit the Child's Play web site and make a donation through Amazon or PayPal directly to a local hospital or to Child's Play in general. If your guild is interested in donating together, please feel free to email me (klindsay [at] childsplaycharity [dot] org) and I can let you know more about holding a group fundraiser.
Thanks, Kristin. Best of luck to making 2009 the best year for Child's Play ever -- oh, and here's to more mini-pets for Reddaux!
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" - neither did we, until we talked with these players. From an Oscar-winning 3-D effects director to a rising pop singer ... from a quadriplegic player to a bunch of guys who get together for dinner and group raiding in person every week ... Catch it all on 15 Minutes of Fame.