Local Spotlight: Chicago Loot Drop

For those who’ve never heard of Chicago Loot Drop, it is a local organization that raises money for University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital through various game-related gatherings and events. We spoke with Chicago Loot Drop’s Mike Chuck Bretzlaff about the organization, their mission, and some of their past and upcoming events.
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First off, thank you for talking to us Mike. So tell us a little bit about Chicago Loot Drop, and your role in the organization.
Chicago Loot Drop was started three years ago to fill in a large Chicagoland-shaped hole on [charity organization] Child’s Play‘s map of hospitals. After doing a little legwork and reaching out to the right people, in 2011, we were able to connect Comer Children’s Hospital with Child’s Play. For the first time since their founding in 2003, Child’s Play finally had a participating hospital in Chicago. But that was just the first step. Since then, we’ve been having regular events to support Comer, raising funds to purchase books, toys, and games for kids there.

I’m one of the founders and chairman of Chicago Loot Drop. But all of our titles are mostly for official paperwork reasons. Everyone involved wears many hats when it comes to planning and executing the fundraisers we create.

What are some of the advantages and benefits to doing that type of charity work at a more local level?
The biggest advantage is that when you help Comer, you’re helping kids and families that could quite easily be your neighbors. I even have some recent family history with Comer. The money donated isn’t just a drop in a bucket for some large, faraway charity. Every cent is significant and has a visible impact on those local kids during their time at Comer. That’s part of the genius of Child’s Play – they’ve created an engine with which you can participate and see the effect of your contribution locally.

Is there anything that makes the gaming/nerd community unique as far as helping out with charitable causes?
Getting nerds organized outside of an online environment can be challenging at times since, well, let’s face it – we’re not always the most outgoing folk. Also, there are a lot of different kinds of nerds, who might not naturally hang out together. Our disparate but related interests often serve to distance us, as much as they unite us. Board-gaming geeks don’t necessarily play video games, and world-ranked Halo players don’t necessarily give a hoot about comic books. That said, there’s usually some amount of crossover, and that’s what we’re working to grow. Something like a charitable cause is good rallying point, since we all want to be helpful and heroic.

We’re nerds ourselves, so we want to strengthen our community and do stuff that fits our interests and skills. By focusing on the gaming/nerd community, Chicago Loot Drop gets to have very special events that you won’t find elsewhere, because we’re not interested in events with mass appeal. We’re creating events that we want to go to and see happen. That might mean that we have a smaller audience, but it’s still a strong one. Just in the past year, we’ve had a bunch of different types of events. There was “Cinco de Bilbo“, a sing-along to the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit, and “NerdRiff: Superman“, where local nerd sketch comedy team, The Nerdologues, gave Superman: The Movie the MST3K treatment. Both were awesome events that you’re not really finding other people doing, since singing “Down, Down to Goblin Town” in a room filled with nerds has, admittedly, fairly limited appeal.

Heh, yeah, maybe just a bit. But all of those events sound awesome to me and I’m sorry I missed them. However, we here at The Chi-Scroller are very much looking forward to attending “Tokens and Tankards“, the event you are hosting at the Emporium Arcade Bar on this coming Sunday, November 3. What would you like to tell our readers about that?
“Tokens & Tankards” is going to be a blast.  It’s all about drinking good beer, playing awesome games, and helping kids. We’ve got 10 local breweries participating and we’re pairing each sample of one of their beers with one of Emporium’s arcade games. Attendees will get to see how the taste of each beer complements the game it’s paired with. Or something like that. It’s kind of silly, but should be lots of fun. It’s only $28 in advance, $30 at the door, and we’re a 501(c)(3), so tickets are tax deductible. The proceeds will go to purchasing books, toys, and games for kids at Comer.

What else do you guys have in the works? Any other events or happenings you’d like to talk about?
Last year we had an event called “Press START To Drink: Mortal Kombat VS. Street Fighter,” where we watched the 90’s film versions of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat while drinking a bunch of beer. We’ve been wanting to do another one and should be having our second in early 2014. This time it will be “Press START To Drink: Scott Pilgrim VS. Wreck-It-Ralph.”  Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date with that announcement!

Wow, two of my favorite video game movies, if not favorite movies in general. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on that one! Anything else?
Dodgeball Dungeon is currently running at Comedy Sportz through Nov. 17th.  If they get an extended run, they’ll be having a benefit night for Chicago Loot Drop in January.  To make sure that happens, be sure to go check them out while there are still a few weeks left.  It’s a fantastic show.

We should be at C2E2 again in 2014 with our second installment of “Drawing Dreams“, a fundraiser we did on the con’s floor where kids from Comer drew themselves as superheroes. We then had local artists do their own professional version of those drawings, in comic book style. Attendees were able to vote on their favorite pair of drawings via donation. All in all, it raised a lot of awareness for Comer, gave the kids a chance to shine, and raised a good deal of money for the kids there. And we think that’s pretty awesome.

We think that’s pretty awesome, too. And so is all of the great work you guys do. Thanks again for talking to us, and we hope to see you at Emporium on Sunday!

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Again, “Tokens & Tankards” is this Sunday from 1pm-4pm at the Emporium Arcade Bar, located at 1366 N Milwaukee Ave. You can buy advance tickets here. You can also make a donation to Chicago Loot Drop at any time via their website.

We hope to see you there. Let us know in the comments if you’re going to be attending, and what you plan to wear so we can awkwardly find each other blind date style.