“Several of us are bullying and suicide survivors. We still face bullies as adults. Suicide is the second leading cause of death from 10 to 34. That is unacceptable and we want to do what we can to help in anyway possible.”Margot Shenton, speaking about You’re Not Alone
I had the pleasure of speaking with Margot of Real Women of Gaming in January of 2020.
The Charity Boardgamer: Margot, thank you so much for meeting with me today. Tell us about yourself and what brought you into the board game hobby.
Margot: Thanks for having me. My husband introduced me to a few YouTube videos about some extra nerdy board games and we both fell in love with the idea of playing Betrayal at House on the Hill. It was out of print at the time but I watched for it and once it was out again got it for him for his birthday. I can’t even count the amount of times we’ve played it.
The Charity Boardgamer: Did you do many board games when you were younger?
Margot: Honestly I have Complex PTSD so I don’t remember. I assume I played the typical board games that children do. I remember my father teaching me Chess and I think I owned Candy Land.
The Charity Boardgamer: What have been some that you have enjoyed a lot lately? Any publisher or designer that is a go-to?
Margot: After Pax Unplugged in Philadelphia we have a plethora of new games. Recently I’ve greatly enjoyed Fire in the Library by Weird Giraffe Games and Crazier Eights: One Thousand & One Nights by James Gray. I don’t typically focus on the publishers or designers, at least not previously. I would gravitate towards games that captured my interest. However that has changed, if I love one I am sure I will love more. Oh, also Danger The Game by Origami Whale Games. Great party game.
The Charity Boardgamer: Love Fire in the Library.
Margot: Amazing game, amazing designer. I got to meet Carla she is wonderful and I adore her.
The Charity Boardgamer: Tell us about Real Women of Gaming. What brought this into fruition and what are some of the things that the organization does?
Margot: In 2013 I was surfing Facebook and looking for a page that I could interact with that represented gamer women like myself. At the time I was over 30, married and talking about a family. All the pages that I came across were hyper sexualized ‘girls’ OR a cacophony of men saying that there were no such thing as a gamer girl, only fake gamer girls existed. So I grabbed a couple of my friends and we started a page called Real Women of Gaming, to destroy Fake Gamer Girls. It kind of spiraled from there. We never planned to be more than a Facebook page but then we started a website with articles. Then YouTube, why not streaming, how about charity events too? So we tried it all!
The Charity Boardgamer: That is what I wanted to talk with you about today: Charity. You have three major events coming up and we would love to hear more about them in detail.
Margot: I love talking about our Charity events. Our first of the year is Be Someone’s Superhero. Planned for February 29th this year. Our team spends 12 hours relay streaming video games. Each streamer plays for about 2 hours before handing off to the next streamer and so on. I will be spending the day in Uncanny! Comics at the King of Prussia Mall (Largest Mall in the Country) in Pennsylvania for 11 hours with some cosplayers and talking to people who come in to raise funds there. This event is to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia via Extra Life.
The Charity Boardgamer: What is Extra Life for those who may not know about it?
Margot: Extra Life is an amazing foundation that partners gamers with hospitals to put all those hours of sheer dedication and streaming to good by helping them raise money. They have an amazing website that does almost everything for you. All you have to do is sign up and promote it. They take all the donations online via paypal, credit cards, etc. 100% goes to the hospital of your choosing. Since most of us live around here we chose CHOP. We’ve been doing this for over 5 years, have raised thousand. Won several Gold Medals (for raising over 1k in a year) and even won an award last year for being one of the Top 30 teams to raise money.
Margot: CHOP is special to me because I have a 5 year old daughter and if anything happens to her there is a center right down the street. Also, we got to learn that all of our donations go to helping the kids while they are in the hospital. 7 weeks old or 17 years, the hospital is a hard place to be. Our donations help them with tablets, toys, gaming consoles, movies, actives, whatever the kids need to continue to be kids while in the hospital.
The Charity Boardgamer: Any video game that you are eager to play for the charity?
Margot: I won’t be playing video games for Be Someone’s Superhero. I get to explain what we are doing and Extra Life for 11 hours in a mall to pick up some extra donations. However, I am excited to watch them play Jackbox that night and see if we hit our goal. We have extra incentives this year beyond giving away games and such online. I think if we hit goal I have to eat hot sauce or a spider. I can’t remember.
The Charity Boardgamer: A spider?!? That sounds amazing! What is your goal for that day?
Margot: No. LOL It’s a terrible idea but I get REALLY competitive when it comes to raising money for charity so I will pull out all the stops to hit our goals. I think we are hoping for at least 1k for the day tho 1.5k would make me really happy!
The Charity Boardgamer: For that stream, do you have a link for it? What platforms will we be able to watch it from?
Margot: We will be streaming on Twitch http://twitch.tv/realwomenofgaming only for this event. It will begin at 9am EST and run till about 9pm EST.
The Charity Boardgamer: Will there be a way to donate on the Twitch Stream?
Margot: Of course! Our amazing Gaia the Gamer Bot will be putting out the donation link for our Extra-Life often as well as our amazing Mods who will make sure that if asked for the link will be there. https://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=402282#donate.
The Charity Boardgamer: That is awesome! So tell us about the next event after the 29th.
Margot: After that is You’re Not Alone, our biggest event of the year. Typically in July because that is our anniversary month of when RWoG was created. You’re Not Alone is our Anti Bullying Event. We’ve raised money for a few charities but have kept with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center of the past few years. We aim to raise awareness of the growing epidemic and to tell people there is another side to being bullied. Several of us are bullying and suicide survivors. We still face bullies as adults. Suicide is the second leading cause of death from 10 to 34. That is unacceptable and we want to do what we can to help in anyway possible. If I had taken my life I wouldn’t have a warrior princess daughter, amazing husband, this wonderful organization & community. All of the friends that are my family nor any of the work that I do. We are taking all that pain that we went through and turning it into good.
Margot: This is an 11 hour event. We will be in Uncanny! Comics in the King of Prussia Mall and streaming from the Mall. Our streamers will play game, we will have raffle items to help us raise more money. We’ve had Doomtown, Cards Against Humanity, Steve Jackson games all donate items to us in the past. Alone with more amazing people who send us everything from dice to hand made jewelry. It’s a humbling experience that makes me emotional every year to see these people put forth their work to help us. We’ve raised thousands and we hope to raise thousands more. Our date this year is not yet determined but we will start planning the moment that Be Someone’s Superhero is completed. Our goal for You’re Not Alone is also 1k but I’m always looking to go bigger.
The Charity Boardgamer: Where could one go to learn more about You’re Not Alone?
Margot: You can keep tabs on all of our social media or check out https://realwomenofgaming.com/youre-not-alone.
The Charity Boardgamer: Also, do you have a link for PACER’s if someone wanted to donate and learn more about them?
Margot: Of course! https://www.pacer.org/bullying/
The Charity Boardgamer: So we have February and July. What’s after those events?
Margot: Oh Chris, than comes my FAVORITE EVENT! Charities & Champions! I grab a bunch of my internet friends with followings, youtubers, podcasts, comedians… and I make them sit in a room and play Dungeons and Dragons for 12 hours while we stream it! This year will be our 4th year and I AM SO EXCITED! We are raising money for CHOP through Extra Life and we create crazy incentives for the event. You can HELP or HURT the players with your donations! It is literally exhausting for us but so much fun at the same time. It’s 6 people hanging out playing something they absolutely love for charity! This is our Fall event. Sep/Oct depending on schedules. Last year we included special one shots that people could donate to get into and I’m hoping to take it a step further this year. Vel, our Dungeon Master for the L.O.S.T D&D Streaming show, who also happens to be my husband, will be running it again and I can’t wait to start pulling at people to come play.
The Charity Boardgamer: What is your go-to class in D&D? What are you thinking about being this year?
Margot: I’ve been playing for over 20 years and am currently in 3 games and run one in our discord server. I don’t know anymore. I play in every Charities and Champions. I’m the only constant lol so the first year I played a rogue I think, than a bad ass barbarian ( I am itching to play another one ) and in 2019 I played a Paladin. So maybe something magical this year? Who knows! Maybe I’ll get to play a Drow again or another Aasimar. There are so many amazing options. I tend to stay away from Clerics since that is my L.O.S.T character and that’s gone on for over 4 years now, however a Grave Cleric would be nice or maybe a Bard from the College of Nightmares.
The Charity Boardgamer: This sounds like it’s going to be a great year for you all. I cannot wait to hear more about these events as they come closer to their dates. Margot, It was a pleasure speaking with you today and I wish you success as you continue this work for great causes.
Margot: Thank you so much Chris for helping to get the word out about our amazing events!