After volunteering for SpecialEffect at the ESI Super Forum at the end of September, I signed up once again to help out on the charity’s stand at the MCM Comic Con in London last month. It was a totally different environment to the previous event: gone were the serious business-people in suits, and they were replaced by attendees of all ages wearing some of the most creative costumes I’ve ever seen.
Ted Hewett (@rg_ted) October 26, 2018
I always get nervous before volunteering despite having helped out at numerous expos. It’s because you never know who you’re going to meet at the stand or what questions you’re going to be asked so there’s that trepidation which comes with the unexpected. It’s something I’ve learned to throw myself into over the years however because it has a very positive effect: not only does it take me outside my comfort zone and give me the opportunity to learn how to better deal with group situations, it’s to support an absolutely fantastic cause.
After approaching the entrance to the ExCeL centre on Friday morning, I bumped into Ted with whom I volunteered last year. This time he was joined by his friend Tim and the pair of them came dressed as Walter Sobchak and The Dude from The Big Lebowski – they totally nailed it! A few minutes later we were accompanied by Tugsy, who regularly streams on Twitch and will be joining in with GameBlast in February; and our crew was rounded off by Becky and Nomi who kindly looked after us throughout the day.
The thing Ted and I both noticed was that there seemed to be more stands dedicated to gaming scattered among the halls this year. Although I didn’t have a lot of spare time to visit them, in my brief walks I noticed areas for PlayStation VR, Spiderman and Red Dead Redemption 2 with fairly long queues at each. I found Tony from NFTS Games at a stand in the indie area to promote the work produced by the school’s students for the first time at the event, and promised to next catch up with him when we see each other at Rezzed in April.
Along with more gaming displays came more people who had already heard of SpecialEffect, which was really heartening to see. There were still those however who had never come across the charity before and so it was necessary for the volunteers to get to work. The fact that they took the time to talk to us (most of them in wonderful costume), were up for trying out eye-controlled Minecraft and then totally understood that it’s not just about ‘playing video games’ made my day, and reinforced exactly why it is I support this awesome organisation.
(@SpecialEffect) October 26, 2018
The next event I’m getting involved with is GameBlast19, an annual gaming marathon where gamers from all over the UK come together to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. Now in its fifth year, over £700,000 has been raised from these events so far and this amount has helped to change the lives of hundreds of people with disabilities. Using technology ranging from modified joypads to eye-control software, the charity aims to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of those who could previously only watch others have all the fun.
Can you think of a video game perfect for a stream because it supports cooperative play or encourages plenty of discussion in Twitch chat? Whether it’s an action title that multiple players can join in with or a puzzler where everybody can help figure out the solutions in chat, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Help shape our GameBlast19 stream: this is your chance to see us play your favourite release, work our way through something we’ve never heard of or suffer something difficult after almost an entire day without sleep..
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.