GameBlast19 has officially been completed. The weekend saw myself and my other-half playing video games for 24-hour straight in an annual event to raise as much funds and awareness as possible for the amazing SpecialEffect.
I’ve now participated in the GameBlast marathon for five out of the six years it has been running, and every event has taught me something new – whether it be about streaming, gaming in general or event myself. I always write a round-up post sharing the lessons learnt each time to enable us to benefit from them the following year so, in normal Later Levels’ style, here’s an overview of our experience from GameBlast19.
Lesson 1: you can never be prepared enough
You can test as much as you can before a marathon but trust me: you’ll always experience a technical hitch on the day. In 2017 my capture card stopped pulling game sound into the stream; and in 2018, our new microphone decided to keep turning itself off every few hours. Despite weeks of testing for 2019’s event (including a couple of 12-hour sessions) we ended up having a minor problem with the webcam whereby it kept changing exposure every few seconds at the start of the stream.
We managed to get it fixed quickly and without getting stressed about it. That’s what previous GameBlasts have taught me: there’s no point believing that nothing will go wrong and when it does, there’s no point panicking! Luke from Hundstrasse shared a great lesson during his February editorial and it was something I took advantage of this year. Having a pre-stream checklist enabled me to get the stream started on time and in a calm manner so when the webcam did play up, we were mentally-prepared to deal with it.
Lesson 2: two is better than four, but four is better than two
Other people have always joined us for previous GameBlasts so I was nervous whether Pete and I would be able to make it through the entire 24-hours by ourselves this year. What I learnt was that doing it with a team of two is no harder than a team of four – it’s just different. When there’s more of you, you feel as though to can lean on your teammates and it makes it easier to take a rest if you need to; but when you’re part of a couple, you feel more responsible to stay awake and it gives you the energy push on through.
Yesterday, we took part in GameBlast19 alongside our good friends Later Levels, and I'm pleased to say we managed t… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
GeekOut South-West (@GeekOutSW) February 24, 2019
I’m extremely proud to say we made it to the end with no naps (the evidence can be found here). But I need to give a shout-out to Tim and Jake from GeekOut South-West: they decided to stream alongside us to their own channel, playing The Elder Scrolls Online for as long as it took their new characters to reach level 50. It meant we could pull their stream into ours whenever we needed a break for a good old stretch or another cup of caffeine, without leaving our viewers watching a still screen. Thanks so much guys – we owe you a few beers!
Lesson 3: the more co-op games, the better
We made a point this time of playing as many games as possible where both Pete and I could participate. First up there was Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, where we took turns every few deaths; Overcooked! gave us the opportunity to work together; and we both grabbed a controller for The Elder Scrolls Online. Having both of us involved in the gameplay as much as possible meant it kept our minds awake and as focused, making it easier to stay awake and get through to the end of the stream.
Our favourite titles were A Way Out, which I’m sure we’ll end up streaming the rest of very soon, and Moss, a virtual-reality (VR) puzzle-platformer which turned out to be quite charming. The highlight of the event was having Khinjarsi from Upon Completion, Athena from AmbiGaming, LightningEllen from Livid Lightning and Luke help us make the ‘best’ choices in Until Dawn. As a result of that experience, we’re now going to do a special ‘community choice’ stream for Halloween later this year.
Lesson 4: Hellblade is great but not right for streaming
A number of friends and bloggers have been telling me to play Hellblade for some a while now so I was pleased when it won the vote to be a part of our GameBlast19 schedule. However, shortly after picking up the controller I realised that streaming the game wasn’t going to be the best way to experience it. That’s not because I thought it was bad or didn’t enjoy the three hours I spent with it; I simply saw it was a very intense title which would be better experienced alone.
Later Levels (@LaterLevels) February 23, 2019
Alongside this, and as I chatted about on air, it usually takes me several hours to properly learn a new scheme. The controls here feel heavy and very deliberate: it’s not a game where you can mash the buttons and make it through the majority of the time. I need to play Hellblade when I’m not being watched and give it the attention it deserves, so I can finally discuss it properly with Athena, LightningEllen, and Ian from Adventure Rules (once it has been released on the Switch this spring).
Lesson 5: streamers can’t live by Wotsits alone
Aah Wotsits: they’re the food of the streaming gods. GameBlasts past have taught us you can never have too many packets of the orange snack available so every year we stock up. However, this time I was determined for us to not resort to crisps and chocolate alone because you end up crashing after consuming all that sugar and then feeling terrible. So although we did have several packs of Walkers’ finest, I also made sure we had something ‘proper’ to eat.
Here’s a tip for any fellow streamers out there who are concerned about their diet during marathons. Get up a little earlier before the start of your event, chop up the ingredients needed for a stew and put them in containers in the fridge. Then take a quick break from your stream in the afternoon, chuck those ingredients in a pot on the hob, leave it for a few hours and voila: you have an effortless and stress-free dinner! I’ll definitely be doing this again for GameBlast20.
Lesson 6: the WordPress community is still the best
The amount of support we’ve been shown by the WordPress community this year has been absolutely amazing. We honestly didn’t think we’d reach our £500 target for SpecialEffect because it’s quite high for a team of only two; but with your help we managed to hit that goal and then go on to beat it by an additional 22%! A total of £612.14 is now going to the charity to help them continue their fantastic work in helping people with physical disabilities all over the UK to enjoy video games.
Later Levels (@LaterLevels) February 25, 2019
A huge thank you to everyone who donated, watched the stream, sent tweets, shared Facebook posts and published blog posts too. We were truly humbled by all the support and couldn’t have done it without you. Much love too to the GeekOut South-West guys who had our backs through the entire event and kept us sane. Please consider this post as a virtual hug to every single one of you reading this because you’re simply awesome and we adore you.
Bonus lesson: we need a new sofa
Sitting on our current sofa for 24-hours made us realise we need a new one as quickly as possible. It’s now over a day since the end of the stream and I’m still not sure I’ve completely regained the feeling in my legs. We were looking for incentive to finally complete the decorating at home before GameBlast19 and now we finally have it: the sooner we finish the living room, the sooner we can throw out that old thing and get something more comfortable to curl up on.
We can’t wait to do it all again for GameBlast20 next year. Thank you once again, from the bottom of our hearts. ❤
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.