Misfit Toys: Mindfulness Through Gaming and the Rantathon Charity

Published by: Michelle Nephew

“The Age of Sigmar community is like an island of misfit toys.” Nic is a good friend I met through the humble hobby of Warhammer, and his words ring periodically in my head.

My name is Andrew (or The Magical Mister Mephisto if you lurk around Twitch and Twitter) and for nearly my entire life I have struggled with mental illness. Whether it was my mom's bipolar disorder disrupting her ability to raise 4 kids as a single parent, or my own personal struggles with depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors, and recently identified dissociative tendencies.

The truth is, my need to cope with my troubled youth led me to any escapist vice I could find. Tabletop gaming, particularly pen & paper RPGs, really allowed me to lose myself in a world of my own making, in worlds better than the reality of trauma, a broken home, and the eventual foster care system. Where I'd seen my mom struggle to self-medicate through substance abuse, I was hooked on gaming. All of it. I often joke that my commitment to escapism is what kept me off the streets, and I still believe that's partially true. By losing myself in fantasy I found myself. I made friends. I grew.

Fast forward decades later and I am a parent now myself. Along the way I turned my passion for gaming into a Twitch stream and very recently an Age of Sigmar (AOS) Podcast. I consider myself an omni-nerd, so the show often meanders through various geeky topics, but AOS is the anchor point and an excuse to allow conversations to bloom into talking about all the other gloriously adjacent topics. Ever present is a focus on mental health visibility in all my online haunts. As my audience grew, I knew I wanted to use my platform to affect change in the real world, and so the Rantathon was born.

In July 2020, amid a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when many people were in the throes of mental health struggles themselves and an air of uncertainty hung around every gaming event the world over, Rantathon raised over $7000 in 27 hours for Mental Health America's IDONTMIND Campaign. Rantathon demolished my humble goal of $500 through the pure will and compassion of all the great people that supported me and the cause.

This year Rantathon's goal is $5000 for Mental Health America, and the date is set for July 31st starting at 10 AM Central. It runs for 30 hours this time. Don't worry, I'm not ironically endangering my own mental health and staying up for the whole thing this time! The format will be much the same (and similar to a Games Done Quick charity stream, which I modeled the first one on). Every two hours Rantathon will feature a different special guest from across the community. Atlas Games' Travis Winter will kick us off at 10 AM, then various community staples such as Vince Venturella, Rerolling Ones, Heywoah, and others will join for their own 2-hour guest blocks. Each block of Rantathon features a giveaway if you donate a minimum amount during the block. This is not a raffle; additional donations don't equal additional chances to win, so everyone who donates has the same chance.

At the end of the 30 hours, Rantathon will give away a grand prize of an entire NIB Soulblight Gravelords army, for those who have donated a minimum amount throughout the stream. Various block prizes include a special edition of Dice Miner's mountain painted by Vince Venturella (see the photo below), and various other smaller army lots like a Slaanesh Lot (that includes a start collecting box, a Keeper of Secrets, and some other things), and so on. There are donation incentives, too, as Rantathon hits certain milestones. Various antics I'll perform on-stream (with a few off-stream for practical reasons, like dying my hair or getting a mohawk) as we reach our milestones.

Everyone has their own struggles with mental health, either personally or directly with someone they care about. Not everyone's story is the same as mine, but everyone deserves peace of mind and to live in a world free from all the stigma surrounding mental health. I think that gamers suffer from mental health issues at a rate higher than the national average of 1 in 5 due to our welcoming the major demographic groups of veterans and the socially marginalized. Maybe a bunch of us feel like the jack-in-the-box that plays the wrong tune, or like a train with square wheels, and that's truly all right. We play games and have fun and connect with each other, and that makes the world a better place.

Be excellent to yourselves and each other, and I'll see you at Rantathon on July 31st!

– Andrew AKA Mr. Mephisto, guest poster, Rantathon creator

Dice Miner Mountain Painted


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