The changing face of chatbots

By Maria Ward, Knowledgebase Engineer and Account Manager

We would all do well to heed the warning “with great power comes great responsibility,” when it comes to ChatGPT.  Today, industries of all sizes are making use of AI chatbots, voicebots and virtual assistants to great effect in delivering better customer and employee experiences. Consumers the world over have gotten used to and accept interacting with these ‘human-imitation’ tools to answer their questions, help them complete tasks, and guide them to resolve issues.

The face of AI chatbots, voicebots and virtual assistants is continually changing as technology advances, customer and employee demands and expectations increase, and how we communicate evolves.

Right now, there’s a lot of hype about the capabilities of ChatGPT and the large language models (LLMs) such as GPT-3 and GPT-4 that feed them.  This is not surprising given the far-reaching impact the technology can and is having across industries, professions, and social development.  People from all walks of life, from writers and developers to traders and architects, are saving time and improving efficiency by using the open AI to produce content.

The generative abilities of ChatGPT are astonishing to observe.  The capability of AI  has developed at a rapid pace over recent years, and we are at an inflection point where things are only going to develop at an ever-increasing pace!  The power of the latest LLMs is undeniable.  How this power is used practically in the design and implementation for conversational AI solutions will either add or detract from the customer and employee experience.  This is where businesses need to ensure they are speaking with experts in conversational AI.

ChatGPT in business settings

You can ask ChatGPT to give answers based on company documents, websites, and other sources of information.  When a question is asked and the answer available from the provided information source, the results are pretty reliable (but not 100%) at giving the correct information.  However, it is a recognised risk that ChatGPT will “hallucinate”, and do so very convincingly, when it cannot find the information from the source material.  This could cause significant reputational and even financial damage to a business.

So where does that leave organisations that are about to embark on their conversational AI journey and those who have existing solutions?  How do they ensure that their chatbot is powered by the latest technology and accurately represents their company?

Most organisations will not want to risk wrong information being provided to customers, however small that risk is.  Indeed, often it will be essential for public facing content to be signed off by legal departments.

Knowledge Management is king

The bottom line is that content is key when it comes to providing the best conversational AI experience. Managing the information that ‘feeds’ the chatbot is paramount for delivering the best experience to customers and employees.  It is, after all, this source information that enables accuracy of conversations.

The knowledge management system of Creative Virtual’s V-PortalTM platform allows businesses to embrace the power of LLMs.  And they can do so with the confidence that the ultimate responsibility for the content is in the hands of humans.  Putting humans in control ensures that no hallucinogenic (or incorrect) answers are provided.  Businesses remain in charge of what information their chatbot can and does share.

Knowledge Management System in V-Portal

V-Portal is a platform where you can manage answers for all channels, such as web, voice, social media, and agent assist, as well as enable language capabilities, and include personalised information.  The platform supports LLMs, including native support for GPT, which enables businesses to deliver greater personalisation.

For example, using ChatGPT within the V-Portal platform you could enable a single signed off answer to be modified to change length, tone of voice (etc.) to suit the needs of the customer, based on the channel they are using. Integration with CRM systems provides knowledge about that customer to deliver an even more appropriate personalised response.  This would be a minimal risk scenario using ChatGPT, that would enable organisations to deliver a new level of personalisation.

Content creators can be assigned specific permission levels according to their needs by granting access to only the content relevant to them. Tasks can be set against all content types giving you the power to set actions and assign these to specific users, for example for content review.

Workflows and approvals are also an integral part of the platform, allowing control over what content makes the final cut. And, with a full version history you always have visibility of what was changed and when.

A fundamental part of the platform is flow design.  This allows you to build processes to hand-hold customers through the decisions they need to make to complete their journey.

Thinking about it, V-Portal serves as the engine that brings together the great power of AI and the human intervention and judgement needed to ensure that great responsibility is maintained.

There’s more to GPT than the ChatGPT headlines

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder and CEO

AI attention over the past couple of months has been quite astounding.  Especially considering that it has been part of our every-day lives for so long already.  Face-ID to open our mobile phones – AI.  Social media – AI.  Voice Assistants like Siri and Alexa – AI.  Route mapping – AI.  Its attractiveness and almost universal application is undeniable, with global spending on AI-centric systems expected to reach $154 billion this year according to IDC.

Used extensively across every industry, delivering huge benefits and rewards, AI has been transforming businesses and the workplace for decades. In healthcare it is used in radiology results analysis and robotic assisted surgery, in banking it is the core of fraud detection, and in retail and e-commerce it is the behind personalisation, integral to effective inventory management and powers customer service chatbots.

AI used in education is enabling personalised learning and in transportation it has made driverless vehicles possible.  Businesses of all sizes are using it to deliver better customer and employee experiences with more human-like chat and voice bots, to strengthen cybersecurity, and to build more effective workflows and operations.  And these are just a few of the myriad of applications.

At Creative Virtual we have been at the forefront of helping businesses build better customer and employee experiences with innovative conversational AI solutions for nearly 20 years. Since inception we have always ensured that we practice ethical technology. We see this as a fundamental responsibility that we take seriously, and it is something that our customers expect.

There has always been adoption hesitancy when it comes to new technologies.  Issues such as job erosion, privacy, surveillance, behavioural manipulation, fake news, changing labour force/job erosion and bias are just some of the topics that come up in impact analyses of advanced technologies.

Whilst practising ethical tech comes naturally to Creative Virtual, we are not blind to the fact that there are bad actors exploiting technology and many questions on the wisdom of a concentration of power among a small elite of tech giants, with no regulatory oversight.

It is critical that the business models of companies in a position of power have robust systems in place that take account of legislative and ethical responsibilities relating to the privacy, security, discrimination and misinformation and other issues of today.

Technology has always moved faster than legislation and regulation, most recently for example we have seen this with Uber.  This is also the case in relation to AI, with questions being raised on whether self-regulation is strong enough to safeguard the rights of individuals, protect, promote and support cultural diversity, halt the spread of mis/false information, and ensure adherence to data and privacy legislation.

The continual questioning and interrogation of the social and economic impacts of new technology must happen concurrently with tech advancement and progress, with one not stopping the other.

It seems, from the media coverage at least, that ChatGPT took the world by surprise when it burst onto the scene back in November 2022.  Almost overnight, the world became obsessively captivated by AI.

The focus by mainstream media on AI technology might be new, triggered by ChatGPT, but it has been around (admittedly not as powerful or impressive – but technology is always evolving and improving) and used by businesses for quite a long time.

Nevertheless, it is being seen as ‘new’ in terms of massification and consumerisation which has led to a lot of AI hype filling print, digital and broadcast media platforms.  It has been simultaneously sensationalised, in some cases demonised, and satirised.

Most recently, it has also been politicised. We have all read that countries such as Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Iran and Italy have banned ChatGPT.  It should be noted that Italy is a bit of a different case to the other countries. The Italian government has banned the application because they are concerned with privacy and data, stating that “the ChatGPT robot is not respecting the legislation on personal data and does not have a system to verify the age of minor users.”

Russia, China etc. have banned ChatGPT because they either have strict rules against the use of foreign websites and applications, full on restrictions in the use of even the internet, or they have strict censorship regulations.

ChatGPT is also on the ‘watch-list’ of several countries. France, Germany, Ireland and the UK have indicated that they will be monitoring the use of the application closely for “non-compliance with data privacy laws”, and they have also raised concerns about algorithmic bias and discrimination.

It is not only governments that are questioning AI, a moratorium on the development of AI has been proposed by tech celebrities Elon Musk and Steven Wozniak.  They have put their signatures to an open letter, along with prominent and respected AI researchers such as Yoshua Bengio, Stuart Russel and Gary Marcus, asking for “… all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.  This pause should be public and verifiable and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”

Of course, the concerns voiced by governments, individuals and the industry, are valid.  They are centre stage in the ongoing debate of the ethics-morality-technology-societal quadrangle. This discussion should continue. However, proposing a pause or ban on technological advancement is not a sensible or necessary response.

As previously mentioned, Creative Virtual’s approach when building and deploying conversational AI solutions is from a position of responsibility, deploying tech in an ethical and moral way. This includes understanding the intended outcomes of the conversational AI technology solutions we build and deploy, and to debate potential unintended outcomes so we can mitigate these.

For example, it is a known that GPT-3, 3.5 and even the latest model GPT-4 are not fully reliable (humans are not reliable all the time either!) and there is no guarantee of 100% accuracy.

Yes GPT-4 is more accurate than previous versions, but it does still “hallucinate”, can give inaccurate information and harmful advice. Businesses must be able to mitigate the risks this poses to avoid financial and reputational damage and be in control of the information their company is sharing.

To ensure organisations are in control, Creative Virtual supports large language models (LLMs) including the latest versions of GPT, but we remain uncompromising on not transferring total authority to machines.

Our conversational AI solutions provide a signature blend of AI and rules-based natural language processing (NLP), with the AI component compatible with workflow functionality to allow for customisable configuration options. It also means that our systems improve continuously in a reliable way that meets the needs of an organisation.

At the same time, natural language rules can still be used to enable control over responses in instances when AI answers are insufficient. Our blended approach ensures accuracy, enables the resolution of content clashes, and delivers very precise replies when needed.

This level of enterprise-grade functionality differentiates Creative Virtual’s conversational AI platform from all others on the market today. Providing this high degree of control over the AI is critical for businesses. Organisations can be confident in the accuracy of what they communicate to customers and employees because we enable human judgement to be applied to the information created by AI.

Recent commentary about ChatGPT has highlighted examples of its imperfections as well as potential immediate and longer-term social implications. At Creative Virtual we make it possible for our customers to mitigate these risks whilst still enjoying the business benefits of large language models, specifically GPT-3.5 and 4.0 today.

Using our V-Person technology, real business concerns regarding the security, data, privacy, and accuracy aspects related to information sharing are moderated, and organisations retain full control over AI output.

We are already working with customers and introducing LLMs as part of their conversational AI solution for tasks to deliver better customer, employee and contact centre agent experiences.  After identifying specific use cases we are piloting a number of GPT capabilities that are changing the playing field, including vector matching, summarisation, text generation, translation, clustering/analysis, Q&A preparation, and using generative AI.

Implementing LLMs requires experience and expertise, especially given the rate at which AI is developing.  In conversational AI, knowledge management is critical. Creative Virtual’s orchestration platform – V-Portal – supports LLMs, enabling businesses to maximise the benefits of the latest technology and can do so safely, securely and with confidence.

Our V-Portal platform combines knowledge management with workflow management and user management, supports multiple versions of answers for a single theme which gives granular control over the responses given, and allows for optimisation for individual channels.  It also has the capability to manage multi-lingual solutions within a single knowledgebase.

Organisations using our V-Portal platform have options for presenting users with a specific response based on a variety of criteria, including channel, authenticated user profile or selected language.  The platform also supports the use of rich media such as diagrams, images and videos in addition to text and hyperlinks within answers.

The flexible architecture of V-Portal enables seamless integration of our conversational AI solutions into existing processes and technology infrastructure, ensuring business continuity and as a cloud-based solution upgrading to take advantage of the newest technologies and stay ahead of the competition could not be easier.

AI will continue to capture headlines for many years to come.  The good, bad and ugly will be debated.  How society, businesses and individuals choose to use AI is a big part of the positive impacts it will have.

As a business tool, conversational AI solutions powered by the latest in AI technology advances can supercharge employee, customer and contact centre agent experiences, whilst also delivering cost and efficiency savings, and improving productivity.

It’s all about having the right conversational AI partner who understands the technology, business challenges and responsibilities, and can build and deploy solutions that meet the real needs of business.

Contact us to find out more on how LLMs can help you deliver better employee, customer and contact centre agent experiences.

Multi-Channel is very 2010’ish – Bots are multi-purpose these days.

By Björn Gülsdorff
In the annals of KAUST (King Abdul University of Science and Technology), the 21st of May 2020 is marked as the day of the soft launch of VITA (called KAI back then), the university’s VA (Virtual Assistant); knowledgeable in many things IT related.

VITA asks for username or KAUST ID at the beginning, but lets you chat on even without that. It connects to an Active Directory (AD) to pull more user information and helps with all kinds of IT issues. When things get serious, VITA creates a ticket on the user’s behalf – but only if the user authenticates using the university’s login tools. When things go wrong, VITA hands over to the live chat agents, using Creative Virtual’s very own Livechat.

With on-the-fly login, AD integration, ticket creation and Livechat handover, VITA ticked the boxes and had very successful conversations.  We then added a full-page version and a PWA (progressive web app) so that people could bookmark the link to VITA on their devices. And deep links into the Knowledge Base allowed the Service Agents to send links to VITA’s answers in emails.  As a natural extension, VITA was made available on Facebook Messenger.  To improve CX, the UI was connected to KAUST’s face recognition system. A user can now identify themselves using their cameras to take a picture, which VITA sends to the face recognition software.

While these extensions were delivered, work had started for another department: Facilities Management (FM). In May 2021, Mr. FIX’T was launched, supporting on-site residents with a variety of FM matters, from air conditioning to kitchen appliances to waste management.

During the FM project, we built on the existing Active Directory integration and added WhatsApp as a channel for both IT and FM, included document upload, integrated with another back-end ticket system, and created a dedicated queue for FM on our Live chat back end.  We also enabled live chat agent to use a personal image in the chat UI. The new content was added to the same installation, but separated from IT using V-Portal’s built-in “Business Area” concept, whilst V-Portal’s “Channel” support is used to manage the now 4 different delivery channels (Web, PWA/Fullscreen, WhatsApp, Facebook)

A short while after the launch of the FM solution, we were then approached by the library department. Their VA, called Labib, went live on the library website end of February 2023. Whilst being mainly an FAQ machine and only conversing on the web for the time being, it comes with the specialty of escalating to the library live chat rather than our own.

A recent trip to CCW 2023, Berlin

By Björn Gülsdorff

CCW is the “international conference and trade show for innovative customer dialogue”, which is a bit bulky a title, but much better than the original ”CallCenterWorld” which is no longer a good fit. Unfortunately, this is now easily confused with ContactCenterWorld, also called CCW. But I managed to get to the right event to support our German partner SOGEDES in matters related to Conversational AI.

One very non-technical but nonetheless important takeaway from CCW is that Real life ain’t dead. CCW sported a hybrid concept, with all talks and product presentations available through live streams (and recordings after the event).  And still, many people came to Berlin, and I think that nearly everyone who had come was ready for business. The quality of the conversations at the SOGEDES booth was outstanding.

Unsurprisingly, ChatGPT was a big topic. However, although it was hot in talks and booth side chat, it was evident that few real applications had been built yet, except for the obvious use cases of summarising texts. This was not only due to the short timeline between the launch of CHATGPT and CCW, but what I heard many people saying was that ChatGPT is not ready for customer dialogue. This is correct of course (as GPT4 was not out then) but I was still very surprised how educated and relaxed people were about it.

I had expected a buzz similar to the machine learning hype some years back. At the same time, ‘AI’ has become a commodity. Everyone has it – because everything is now called AI. Similarly, but to a lesser extent, Conversational AI has lost leading edge appeal and simply become something that’s used for automated conversations i.e., chat bots – but those, as a word, have fallen from grace.

The top two top – Agent Assist and Voice Bots

After years (decades?) of promoting Digital Self Service, voice is still a strong channel and companies are now looking to automatise calls and are no longer avoiding this. The handover/routing of calls from bots to agents is an important ingredient in the requirements.

In a way, organisations are now looking for something that Creative Virtual has been suggesting and recommending since its founding. That is, virtual agents are a part of an overall conversational strategy and there should be collaboration between human and silicon agents.

We have been delivering solutions that enable human/digital agent collaboration for decades.  In fact, “agent assist” is the name of some of the internal projects we deliver to our customers that, well, assist agents, so they can provide a better service. Our recent work with smart and audio-codes is also testament to our credentials as leaders in conversational AI, and the best choice for customers.

It is worth saying, however, that this new focus on voice brings with it very simplified conversations, or at least very rigidly structured conversations, something that is no longer prevalent in text.  You can’t get very complex in a phone conversation, you can’t show images to let users choose the right product, and you can’t play a video to explain something.  To deliver the experiences customers expect, organisations do need to ensure there is integration, with seamless interfaces for these simple flows.

The Overlooked Feature of GPT : Vectorisation

By Olaf Voß, Lead Application Designer

These days everyone is stunned by the generative power of the GPT models, including myself. However, today I want to discuss a GPT feature that is largely overlooked in media coverage: the embeddings endpoint in the OpenAI API. This feature ‘translates’ any text into a 1536-dimensional numerical vector. Personally, I prefer to use the term ‘vectorisation’ instead of ’embedding’.

The idea to turn individual words into vectors is about 10 years old now. These word vectorisations were trained on large corpora – or what we thought were large corpora 10 years ago. They are useful because the way words are distributed in the vector space represents relationships between them. The most famous expression of this concept is probably the equation king – man = queen – woman, which holds approximately true when creating word vectors with tools like GloVe or Word2Vec. These word vectorisations have been in use ever since, forming the basis for much of the progress in machine learning for language-related tasks.

Now, GPT offers the same level of analysis for entire texts. It’s not the first model that can do this beyond single words, but its high quality and affordability make it highly attractive. If you experiment with it, you can quickly see how useful it may be. For example, a question and its answer are matched to fairly similar vectors. Additionally, a text in one language and its translation into another will be mapped to close-by vectors.

This vectorisation can be used for anything that can be done with vectors. Text comparison and thereby text search is one obvious use case. We at Creative Virtual will be using it this way in our upcoming Gluon release for intent matching – still keeping rules as the fallback option if and when needed. Another way we are already using it is for text clustering. Finally, you could use the text vectors as the input layer for a neural network and train it for whatever task you want, thereby ‘inheriting’ many of GPT’s text understanding capabilities.

So, if you have access to the OpenAI API and if you are running out of ideas for what to do with the chat endpoint, give the embeddings endpoint a chance. Vectorise away!

Customer Service for the New Millennium

By Christian Evans, Junior KB Developer (Americas)

No matter where you look, you can’t avoid the buzz about the seemingly alien Millennials. This is the group of people born somewhere between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s, coming after the Gen X and the Baby Boomers who just can’t seem to understand them. What makes them so different from their predecessors is a strikingly different world view, and it’s something worth paying attention to as they outnumber the Baby Boomers by nearly 8 million people.

What does this mean for the customer service industry? It means that expectations are changing and companies would do well to try and keep up. So what do these Millennials expect?

Taking Charge

Growing up in a world that taught them to rely primarily on themselves, members of the Millennial generation prefer finding their own answers rather than relying on a live person. In addition, growing up in a world with instant access to nearly any information they want has tailored their expectations, and they feel as though they have no time to waste on talking to someone when they could be finding the answer for themselves. In fact, according to a report entitled The Real Self Service Economy, via Entrepreneur, “40% of approximately 3,000 consumers in a global survey said they prefer self-service to human contact for their future contact with companies; 70% expect a company website to include a self-service application.” And if that wasn’t enough, HBR reports that “57% of inbound calls come from customers who first attempted to resolve their issue on the company’s website. And over 30% of callers are on the company’s website at the same time that they are talking to a rep on the phone.” It’s for this reason that companies need to have a thorough and easy to use web self-service platform.

Speaking the Language

Something that Millennials also don’t have the time for is unpacking complicated jargon and ineffective pre-recorded FAQs. They look for answers and help in the language that they themselves use and it’s important for companies to provide that to them. Jay Coldren of Marriott says, “The Millennials want to converse in their own language, according to their own rules. They speak in tweets, texts and Facebook posts. If you want to reach them, you have to speak in their native tongue. And you have to be completely authentic.” (via Forbes). Your customer service has to be able to adapt to the language that they use and be able to understand it completely so that the customer service experience fits the bill. This also means that you have to be willing to meet customers where they’re coming to you for help including, but not limited to, the phone, live chat on your own website, mobile applications for your company, forums on third party sites and, of course, social media.

Staying on Top

Offering the kind of customer service that Millennials look for also requires a company to perform maintenance on their service in order to keep themselves up to date and adapt to trends. That’s why it’s incredibly important to keep track of the number and kinds of conversations customers are having with your customer service team. For instance, a big part of what Millennials crave is ‘social care.’ In a study by Joe Gagnon and Jason Dorsey, they say that “This new generation will not tolerate waiting in lines, repeating their problem to five different people or being treated like a number. Companies that do not adapt risk obsolescence as Millennials become an economic powerhouse.” But it’s not just that they want to feel like they’re being treated like a person–they want to see that your company is comprised of people too. Millennials care about the values of your company when it comes to a wide variety of social, political and environmental issues and are more likely to feel positively about your company if your values align with their own. Customer service interactions are a great opportunity to show this caring and forward thinking and companies who pay attention will be successful in the end.

Putting it Together

Companies must appeal to a Millennial audience in the customer service channel in order to drive sales and increase loyalty. To do so, start developing strategies to drive interactions that empower customers to do more on their own, speaking their language by connecting them through the tools, devices and apps they like to use, and adjusting your customer support philosophies to satisfy their desires. But don’t forget to make it personal. Personalized interactions make a huge difference in building positive connections with your brand. And while it may seem like a lot to compute, the technology has adopted to help meet this demand. Smart technology like intelligent virtual agents, smart kiosks and IVRs can help you adapt to the new omnichannel customer service environment with ease. All you have to do is start listening to your Millennial customers.

Merry Christmas to You!

With Christmas quickly approaching and the start of 2016 just around the corner, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you for making 2015 such a wonderful year!

From being named a Cool Vendor by Gartner to the release of our ‘2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey’ results to the numerous awards won by our customers for their V-Person™ solutions, it’s been a busy and productive year. We appreciate the role each of our customers, partners and blog readers has played in making this a successful year for Creative Virtual and the virtual assistant industry.

On behalf of the entire Creative Virtual team around the globe, we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We’re One of the 20 Most Promising CEM Solution Providers of 2015

CEM Logo

By Karen McFarlane, VP of Marketing (Americas)

Creative Virtual is proud to be named one of the most 20 promising customer experience management solution providers by CIOReview. CIOReview identifies “The Best” in a variety of areas important to tech business. Through nominations and consultations with industry leaders, their editors choose the best in in different areas in the tech industry. The CEM Special Edition is an annual listing of 20 Most Promising CEM Solution Providers in the U.S.

We made it to CIOReview’s top CEM Solution Providers list for our expertise in providing robust technologies in the space of knowledge management, natural language processing, and intelligent virtual assistants. Jeevan George, Managing Editor, CIOReview, said “Creative Virtual USA has been on our radar for some time for stirring a revolution in the CEM space, and we are happy to showcase them this year due to their continuing excellence in delivering top-notch CEM solutions.”

We built our self-service platform on the premise that brands want to deliver customer value and foster deeper connections. Our V-Person™ technology provides a holistic system for collecting, analyzing and delivering personalized information to customers on virtually any channel or device. To meet customer demand, most brands are trying to retro-fit their businesses into a self-service model. Our solution leverages your existing tools and software to create a robust customer support experience that customers love.

We’d like to thank CIOReview for their recognition of our hard work as well as our clients whose feedback helps us continually improve our platform. As Creative Virtual USA’s CEO, Richard Simons, CEO says, “Every time we deploy a new system, we learn how to make it better. We in turn help customers solve their challenges which in turn fuels our growth.”

Read more about Creative Virtual’s proven self-service platform in this CIOReview article. If you’d like to see a demo, please feel free to contact us.

InterContinental Hotels Group Speaks at our Executive Roundtable and Luncheon

By Karen McFarlane, VP of Marketing (Americas)

We’re heading to the ATL! Creative Virtual will be hosting a customer experience roundtable and luncheon featuring InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Our special guest speaker is Marissa Pippen, Digital & Voice Product Manager at IHG. Marissa will tell you how IHG creates “Hospitable Technology” that customers love, discuss her challenges and walk you through her methodology for developing a successful omnichannel support model for her company.

So what’s hospitable tech? It’s a digital strategy that enables, empowers and engages customers with authentic and repeatable wins for both the business and the customer experience. If you’re struggling with how to bridge self-service technology with human-assisted customer service, IHG serves as the perfect case study on how enterprises in any industry can create an awesome omnichannel customer experience.

The event will take place on Thursday, December 3rd from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Parish Brassiere & Café in Atlanta, Georgia. After Marissa’s presentation, guests are invited to join us for a complimentary lunch. This is also great opportunity to network with industry leaders, share best practices and discuss rapidly changing market conditions and industry trends.

The event is free to attend and knowing that parking is at a premium in Atlanta, we’re providing free valet parking at Parish.

We’d love to have you join us. To reserve your place, register today.

Creative Virtual Takes Extra Life Charity Marathon By Storm

By Eileen Stall, Jr. KB Developer, Creative Virtual USA

This year the Creative Virtual USA office took part in the 24-hour gaming marathon, Extra Life. Since 2008, Extra Life has raised over $14 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. This particular network of children’s hospitals is particularly special because they provide high level care to children regardless of their parents’ ability to pay for their treatment. In order to relieve the financial burden of these already struggling families, CMN Hospitals rely heavily on charitable donations to keep their doors open. To directly support the efforts of CMN Hospitals, Extra Life was created to allow gamers to give back to their local CMN Hospital. Each team member selects their own hospital and 100% of the funds they raise are donated directly to their institution of choice. Extra Life has grown exponentially over the past seven years, and this year they managed to raise over $6.3 million at the end of Game Day alone.
Extra Life Werewolves 1

On Saturday, November 7th at 8am, the Creative Virtual USA team, captained by Chelsie Strode, began their marathon with a goal of $2,500 and an army of enthusiastic gamers. The office soon filled with personal computers, various consoles, a poker table, and a whole slew of board & card games. Various games were streamed to a Creative Virtual USA Twitch Channel spearheaded by Josh Puno and supported by the efforts of Moshe Villaizan. Multiple events were broadcasted simultaneously to viewers including some of the team’s generous donors. Throughout the day, the office’s remote team members were able to cheer on their co-workers as the group powered through their original goal. Donations both large and small continued to come in throughout Game Day thanks to the fundraising efforts of all the team’s stellar players.

Some of the day’s most popular events included the suspicion-filled roleplaying game, Werewolves of Millers Hollow, and the fast-paced rhythm game, Rock Band. Team members from the Creative Virtual office partook in all sorts of games for hardcore and casual players alike including but not limited to: a Magic the Gathering draft, UNO, a self-constructed miniature golf course, team League of Legends, and Mortal Kombat. Highlights from some of the day’s events can be found over on the Creative Virtual Twitch Channel.

On Game Day, Creative Virtual USA matched the $2,000 that the games had already raised and sky-rocketed the team to the top 3% of participating groups. By the end of the event, players from the Creative Virtual team had played games both solo and together for a fantastic cause and ended the 24-hour run having broken their original goal of $2,500 and rolled right on through $4,000 to reach a final tally of $4,111. As of the end of the marathon on Sunday, November 8th, the Creative Virtual USA team was ranked at 160 for funds raised out of over 6100 teams. A fantastic first year for an event we hope to be a recurring one!

There’s still time to donate. Visit our team page, select a player from the roster, and donate to their personal page. You have until December 31, 2015 so please donate today.