live fire event wounded warrior project chicago
“This event went better than I could have ever imagined.”
The quote of the night came from Wounded Warrior Project’s Regional Alumni manager, Kerry Bassett. Kerry, not a gamer himself, was skeptical about the power of virtual reality and the Oculus Rift demo stations that Stack-Up brought to the North Central regional office in Chicago. But, much like trying to explain to someone what it’s like to jump out of an airplane, virtual reality is something that you have to experience to truly understand its power.
The Chicago event on January 12th was the first of many through 2017 Stack-Up is calling our “Live Fire” events, with Stack-Up bringing gaming to veteran support organizations like Wounded Warrior Project as a way to interact with veterans. With the help of Oculus donating over $50,000 in tech to Stack-Up, we will be working with a variety of service organizations out there to make sure we are identifying veteran gamers out there and bringing them into the Stack-Up community to make sure they know they are not alone out there.
For Chicago, the day was spent setting up all the demo kiosks for the Oculus gear, walking the Stack-Up volunteers through the demo process, prepping the interview station and Twitch live streaming area, then waiting for the doors to open at 5 o’clock. Despite the miserable weather in Chicago, WWP alumni started showing up as soon as it started.
As this is still a new endeavor for us, we made sure to cap the number of wounded vets at 30 to make sure we were able to handle the traffic and that everyone had sufficient time on the Oculus Rift stations. Fortunately, between the eight different VR headsets and eight Xbox Ones we had running, everyone had plenty of time on all of the different stations, so we will definitely be upping the number of veterans we’re inviting for future events.
Thanks to Dan Bolibaugh, an Army helicopter tech who goes by the Twitch stream moniker “Seprin”, our normal interview area was transformed into a full Twitch stream studio. Dan is one of our Stack leads from Iowa and made the four-hour drive to bring his entire stream set up to Chicago, including multiple monitors, cameras, light boxes and a green screen. During the live stream, we brought different veterans in to get some time with Overwatch on PC and talk about their time in the service, how they were injured, and what got them into gaming.
Had almost 200 people watching thanks to a raid from streamer SwiftyIRL, and Steven, a Marine from 10th Marine Division reconnected with James from our Pittsburgh Stack who was also a part of 10th Marine Division. Turns out that the two lived on the same street in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina at the same time!
Big thanks to all of the volunteers who drove in from the Chicago (and beyond) area to be a part of our first Live Fire event: Chicago Stack Lead Malcolm, Dan, Vadim, “Skynet”, Lambert, Mark, Dacotah, Josh, and “Morllan”!
Overall, a huge success for both Stack-Up and Wounded Warrior Project, who were able to get people in their doors that generally wouldn’t attend a normal event. But when you’re talking about gaming and virtual reality, a Stack-Up Live Fire isn’t just a “normal” event.