That’s it: GameBlast20 is officially done. The weekend just done saw hundreds of gamers all over the UK come together through extended streaming sessions to raise as much funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. I’ve written about this amazing charity a number of times before but if you haven’t yet heard about it, please do check out the website.
I’ve now participated in the GameBlast events for six out of the seven years it has been running, and every marathon has taught me something new – whether it’s about streaming in general, creating content or making new friends throughout the community. I always share a round-up of 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 GameBlast20.
Lesson one: 50-days of streaming both is and isn’t a good idea
As we’ve already attempted 24-, 48- and 72-hour marathons for GameBlast in the past, this year we wanted to do something different and decided to attempt streaming every day for a 50-day period. On one hand this was a great idea: it gave us an extended opportunity to test out our equipment and enabled us to create a checklist which we now follow whenever we go live on Twitch. It also gave us a chance of getting over our nerves of always appearing on camera and made us realise we can do it, even if we don’t always feel like naturals.
But it’s not something I’d necessarily recommend: it’s so tiring and wrapping up the a challenge with a 24-hour marathon was unwise. We really struggled during the last four hours of yesterday’s session. It’s almost hard to believe we made it and I do feel a huge sense of achievement looking back on it now; but in future years, we’ll stick to doing several extended test streams before the main event to make sure we’re ready for it. Unless, of course, anyone fancies joining us for another 50-days in 2021?
Lesson two: certain games are made for streaming
We always knew that some games were better for streaming than others but being on air for 50-days in a row really drove home that point. Titles that were easy to pick-up-and-play and didn’t contain plenty of exposition were perfect and I’d suggest giving something like Neon Drive or 198X a try. What surprised us the most however was how popular narrative-heavy games with impactful decisions would be with viewers, like Detroit: Become Human and Life is Strange.
The other thing that became apparent during this year’s GameBlast event was just how different my own and Pete’s tastes in video games can be. I got bored when he chose something more action-intensive and he almost fell asleep when I went for something story-based! Having different preferences to your partner isn’t a bad thing because it encourages you to broaden your horizons; but picking titles you can both enjoy at the same time is important if you’re completing a marathon streaming session together.
Later Levels (@LaterLevels) February 22, 2020
Lesson three: hashtags, nicknames and Zelda Cam
Something funny happened over the course of the 50-day period: we ended up with a bunch of hashtags that regular viewers would use and some of these lovely people even earned themselves nicknames. For example, #KaraokePete would be thrown into chat whenever my other-half started singing (even though he was adamant he’d never do a karaoke stream); and The Gaming Diaries ended up becoming known as The Voice of Reason thanks to her good decision-making abilities!
These viewers weren’t turning in to see me and Pete however. The real star of the show was Zelda, and we stumbled on something special when we decided to set up second webcam so everyone could watch her (usually falling asleep in a weird position on my lap). You’ll be pleased to hear that ‘Zelda Cam’ will now make a regular appearance in all future streams and we might even try thinking up a few more ways to get her involved in upcoming GameBlast event.
Lesson four: friends are what make a stream
We’ve been asked whether we’re going to miss the continuous streaming and, despite how hard it’s been at times, I think in some ways we genuinely will. For a while it’s going to feel weird not rushing home after work to get everything ready to appear in front of the camera. It’s not so much the streams themselves we’re going to miss though: it’s the good friends we’ve made over the past couple of months and getting to hang out with them every evening. Much love to the following people:
Later Levels (@LaterLevels) February 23, 2020
Lesson five: we still need a new sofa
Sitting on our sofa for 24-hours during GameBlast19 last year made us realise we needed a new one as quickly as possible. We’ve had the old thing for such a long time and I’m sure it wasn’t until a few days after the event that we finally regained the feeling in our legs. Did we bother to exchange it for another in time for GameBlast20? Unfortunately not, and now I’m once again writing a lessons-learnt post waiting for that pins-and-needles feeling to subside.
In all seriousness though, it’s important to make sure you’ve got somewhere comfortable to base yourself if you’re going to participant in a marathon stream. Our plan is to finally get our downstairs house renovations completed this summer and this will give us a few options for GameBlast21. The living room will hopefully be a more comfortable space, we’ll have a dedicated gaming area, or we could even move the event to the summer-house at the bottom of the garden. Who knows?
With your help, we managed to raise £600 for SpecialEffect over the weekend – and over £140,000 for the charity in total. This figure will help them to continue their work supporting many more people with physical disabilities in playing video games. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you: we’ve made some awesome friends along the way and can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.