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Our Mission

Those of us at Do a Barrel Roll grew up in the video game era. We can still remember opening boxes and embracing the fresh scent of a new Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, or Gameboy. We love to go and play vintage arcade games or sit down for an afternoon of Settlers of Catan. For our generation and those that came after us, gaming us a ubiquitous part of growing up. 

As we grew older, inevitably, friends found themselves moving to other cities, family dynamics became more difficult, and life seemed to increase in complexity. And yet, despite that, games remained a means of staying connected, of being social. They were an escape from reality, even for a short time. They were a way to heal during troubled times, a way to build community, and a way to discover who we were. 

Do a Barrel Roll's mission is to organize, facilitate, and energize those benefits of gaming. We see it as a medium with immense capacity for driving social good, but one equally bogged down by negative image and sensationalist headlines. We believe that the innate positive power of gaming rests just below the surface and we're dedicated to bringing it to light! 

Our Theme

DO A BARREL ROLL WORKS ON THEMES OF ACCEPTANCE, BELONGING, INCLUSION, FRIENDSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND HEALTHY LIVING.

To this day, we continue to see video games associated with claims of increased violent behaviour, isolation, and depression. While much of this has been debunked through good science and research, the stereotype remains. 

It's time we pull together our all-star squad and do battle against the negative perceptions that video games have on youth and adults alike. We want to change the story, to write a new narrative. Our work proudly focuses on demonstrating how video games create belonging, build community, and drive friendship. 

Each staff member at Do a Barrel Roll has a personal history with video games being an escape in trying times, a way to stay connected with friends and family, and as a means of feeling like they are a part of something special. It's time these stories are told to the world. 

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The Future is Different

"Gaming isn't just on console. It isn't just on tabletops. It isn't just through desktop computers. What I'm excited about is the future of gaming, how it will change the way we see it as a tool for good, rather than a inconsequential pass time. Gaming in the future is outdoors. It's organically social. It's found in stadiums as much as basements. It's a new way to learn languages and skills. We simply can't ignore its potential."

— Ben O'Bright - Executive Director, Do a Barrel Roll

 

Our Squad

 
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Ben O'Bright

Executive Director - ben@doabarrelroll.ca

Ben is a longtime console gamer who got his start playing Age of Empires, Pharaoh, and Starcraft on PC. He is currently the Executive Director of Do a Barrel Roll, a place where he merges his passions of games and non-profits. He's currently obsessed with Fortnite and is a genuine Link superstar on Super Smash Brothers.

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Paula LaBrie

Director of Communications and Marketing

Paula is an intuitive marketing and communications leader and a dedicated philanthropist who has been advocating for entrepreneurs and nonprofits since 1997. The evolution of new media  and digital media has greatly influenced and shaped her work. She believes that what wins advocates and what makes a non-profit like DaBR thrive is the passion that drives it.

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Lindsey Bacigal

Project Officer - Narrative Project

Lindsey loves games with great stories, and she has taken that love for stories into her work interviewing gamers at Do a Barrel Roll. She thinks Final Fantasy X has the best storyline ever and she even has two tattoos dedicated to the game. When she isn’t working or studying, you’ll probably find Lindsey reading outside or exploring Ottawa.

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Anthony Israelstam

Journalist

Anthony fell down the rabbit hole of gaming at an early age. He fell in love with all things DOS gaming, which only pushed him to seek out other consoles whose games also shared a love for imaginative story-telling. Anthony found acceptance in a community that shared his joy for vanquishing that “all-too-difficult” final boss, while also commiserating over just missing 1st place in an all too familiar Kart race.

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Maggie-Mae Lee

Content Coordinator - She Games Programme

Maggie attended the University of Miami where she majored in International Studies and English. She chose these studies because they reminded her of her true passion; virtual worlds. From flying dragons in Azeroth to scouring for ammo in the D.C. Wasteland, Maggie is a sucker for the stories and settings of alternate realms. Her other enthusiasms include consuming overpriced coffee beverages, writing, and traveling. 

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Ben Miller

Digital Projects Officer

Ben is Do a Barrel Roll’s Digital Project Officer, taking charge of all that is 1s and 0s. He is a competitive Super Smash Brothers Melee player and a passionate software developer. He is interested in using technology in innovative ways to help people. Ben likes reading tech books on his Kobo eReader, rock climbing, and basketball.

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Eric Longpré

Director of Technical Operations

Eric is technical guru who could talk to you for ten hours about megabytes and CSS. He asks the hard questions for all of our events: do we have enough bandwidth; and, when is the pizza getting here? He lives in Ottawa and on the Radiant side of a DOTA 2 map. 

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Mehmet Shah

Director of Finance

Mehmet is a financial professional working in the Toronto tech startup world. He has a life-long love affair with tediously challenging and expansive RPG games, especially their ability to light up the imagination through an immersive journey. For him, it’s all about games that takes countless tries to finally get past that last boss. He attributes the start of his gaming days with  Final Fantasy VII and Diablo 2, and currently loves playing the Dark Souls and Bloodborne franchises.

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Val Villamil

Content Coordinator - Society

Val discovered video games thanks to his mom and has been playing since the Atari was the ultimate toy. He loves the outdoors, sports, and sharing a beer with friends. Right know he is using his journalist powers to investigate the positive effects of gaming.                                                                                                                     

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Ed Bredin

Journalist

Edward Bredin studied Physics at the University of Toronto and has always had a passion for video games. While he likes cracking jokes he takes gaming very seriously his favorites being; Pokemon, Zelda, Age of Mythology, and most Square Enix games (except for the really bad port of Chrono Trigger on Steam. SHAME! SHAME!). At DaBR, Ed hunts down, interviews, and writes gamer stories as part of the organisation's Narrative Project.

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Angela Hanna Goulene

Journalist

Angela is a French creator and writer with a love and adoration for children and cats. Angela adores storytelling, traditional animation and just anything geeky. She currently resides in Montreal where she spends most of her time writing, designing characters, working on various show projects, watching horror films and cartoons, as well as drawing, writing, singing, gaming, and just binge-watching anime. Her favorite games are Pokemon, Sims, Sonic (up until Sonic Heroes), Mario, Kingdom Hearts, Super Smash Bros BrawlCuphead, and Outlast. She also loves car racing games but they don't seem to love her back.

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Amir Yani

Journalist

Amir is a lifelong gamer who currently lives in Mississauga, Ontario. He loves video games with a strong narrative and interesting characters like the BioShock and Witcher series. Amir likes to write reviews to share his thoughts and rankings of the games he plays. During his spare time, Amir enjoys watching football, listening to podcasts and traveling to new cities.

The Bosses (Board of Directors)

 
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Caitlin Blacklaws

Caitlin Blacklaws is the Governance & Communications Manager at the Lawson Foundation, a national family foundation that focuses on the health and well-being of children and youth in Canada. Caitlin Blacklaws obtained her Master’s Degree from Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax Nova Scotia, where her research into philanthropy synthesized tenets of international development and business. She believes in the importance of giving back and being involved in community development. Caitlin is well traveled and has a passion for exploring new places. She's engaged to an avid video gamer and will likely never trade any sheep with you in a game of Settlers of Catan.

 

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Liz Harripaul

Liz Harripaul is a superstar professional who works with the City of Toronto's Children's Services, focusing primarily on learning opportunities. She is a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa. Her least favourite colour is dark mauve, making Grimace the most horrific creature to have ever walked the face of the Earth in her mind. When she's not saving the world, she can be found traveling, organizing wildly successful charitable events, eating bagged popcorn, and playing Words with Friends. Now she can't get Grimace out of her head... great.

 

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Emily Robinson

Emily Robinson, a graduate of both Mount Alison University and Dalhousie University, is a born and bred maritimer. These days, she walks the mean (not really) streets of Canada's capital, Ottawa, often belting out her favourite song in the entire world, Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler. Karaoke, gatherings of friends - it's all Bonnie, all day and all night. Emily is an avid console gamer, but on PlayStation, much to the sadness and dismay of her friends on Xbox. She is currently employed with the Government of Canada.