Call to Arms Streamer Spotlight: GryphonAMX
September is upon us, and that means it’s National Suicide Prevention Month! While suicide prevention is something we strive to prevent with our programs all year round, September brings the focus nationally to the cause. Suicide has long been an epidemic among our military service members, both active duty and Veterans alike. According to the American Legion, the Defense Suicide Prevention Office’s quarterly report showed suicides in active-duty military had increased 25% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to 2022. Veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than non-serving citizens but have thankfully seen a slight decrease in their numbers in recent years, according to the latest VA statistics.
Gaming has long been a point of contention when it comes to mental health: Are games impacting our mental health? How do they impact our mental health? How much gaming is too much? In studies as recent as 2020, we’ve been getting some answers. During the pandemic, CNN reported on a study using the ever-popular pandemic release Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Plants vs. Zombies, which showed that playing video games can positively impact mental health.
One of the more popular games among service members and civilians is Call of Duty: Warzone, part of the long-running Call of Duty franchise. Many streamers who work with Stack Up also enjoy the Call of Duty franchise and other FPS (first-person shooter) games, including GryphonAMX. “For the longest time, [my favorite game] was Final Fantasy. Go figure that someone who likes Gryphons likes fantasy stuff, right? But 2009 was a weird transition year, as another franchise came out: Borderlands. I'd really gotten into FPS by then (CoD W@W and MW2, F.E.A.R.2, Rainbow Six Vegas 2), and suddenly, a game came out that captured my enjoyment of those with my crazy love for RPGs. Elemental guns? Skill trees? Loot to grab?! The perfect blend!”
Gryphon has been with Stack Up for an extremely long time before it even began!
“My first streams associated with Stack Up were before Stack Up existed: Operation Supply Drop in 2014, Steve Machuga's original charity!”
Back in 2010, Stack Up founder and CEO Steven Machuga started a charity called Operation Supply Drop, aimed at getting games into the hands of troops after his own experiences with gaming after returning to civilian life. In 2015, Steven moved on to continue his vision in the form of Stack Up (you can read more about Stack Up’s launch in an article posted on our blog). “I love video games have since I was a kid; it's easily my main hobby and point of socializing. And I'd seen too many times how we as a country fail our military veterans, casting them aside the moment they're deemed ‘no longer useful.'” Gryphon’s passion for Stack Up’s mission was deep-seated and continues to burn hot! “I'm not exactly someone who has a lot of capabilities. I can't build houses, I don't have money to donate, I'm not able to take people in, and I'm pretty anti-social myself in a lot of ways. But Stack Up gave me a chance to do something good, to help out people in even some small way, and all through just being a gamer myself and streaming! Being a gamer-based charity promoting even more gaming and getting that out to people who could use the distraction and the possibility of new interactions, man, that was, and still is, such a cool concept and so perfect.”
Over the many years that Gryphon has worked with us, he’s done many charity events for us, raising a grand total of $57,399.38. Reflecting on his time with us so far, Gryphon had one memory that really stood out: “2020. The Big One. The year my tiny little channel was able to make $20,000 for Stack Up. The year the Shield got to be the emblem for the #1 Solo Stream Fundraiser.” Gryphon was thrilled and honored to take the top spot on the Individual Fundraiser leaderboard, which is displayed at the bottom of our main DonorDrive page alongside the Top Team Fundraiser leaderboard. But Gryphon doesn’t want to take all the credit for such an achievement! “That wasn't all me, heck, that hardly WAS me, I cannot thank the much larger streamers and stream communities I was associated with enough for making that happen. SandyRavage, Xcaliz0rz, TheLoyalPatriot, and Trexcapades, asking their communities that I was part of to come support my charity goals with Stack Up. It took a lot from a lot of people to make this one nerd hold that Shield up high, and I'll never forget it.”
We love seeing our streamers come together, make new friends, and strengthen existing bonds. After all, that’s one thing we’re striving to do for service members with our programs. Stack Up isn’t just about getting games into the hands of service members to support their mental health; it’s also allowing them to build out that support system through the people they share those games with. It’s also one thing we absolutely love about how our Influencer Relations Team supports our streamers: you’re not just a warm body raising money. You’re someone we care about, a friend. We’re here to support you no matter the numbers, and that goes for viewer count, follower count, and amount raised.
When asked about any advice he’d give to those unsure about doing an event or having some doubts, Gryphon had this to share: “Play something you enjoy. Play something you enjoy even more, having bizarre things happen. Play something you can make incentives for that people might donate to have happen. My example: Having a donation incentive that, when hit, makes me drop my entire inventory in Borderlands, wherever I am, whatever I'm doing. Absolute chaos, that! Or, have an incentive that makes you do something IRL. My example: I have an incentive that makes me wear goggles that flip my vertical view. ABSOLUTE CHAOS, that! Find ways to make donating not just a good cause but a lot of fun for the viewers. And sometimes for you. Sometimes.”
We have loved the opportunity to work with Gryphon over the years and are excited to be able to continue the relationship with such a passionate person. Gryphon has been recently streaming Destiny 2 and, of course, Borderlands 3 on his Twitch channel with no set stream schedule. Follow him for updates on upcoming streams, and enjoy the chaos that ensues!