The end of February saw hundreds of gamers all over the UK take part in the annual GameBlast event. Thanks to their dedication, hard work and marathon streaming sessions, a grand total of £228,300 raised for SpecialEffect.
This amazing amount will help the charity continue their work free of charge. The aim is to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games, and they use a range of technology including modified hardware and eye-control software to find a way for individuals to play to the very best of their abilities. This not only brings families and friends together but has a profoundly positive impact on confidence and quality of life too.
Our 24-hour stream for the official GameBlast21 weekend may have finished over a month ago – but that doesn’t mean we’re stopping any time soon. To say thank you to everyone who helped us raise £4,579 and raise awareness for the charity, we’re streaming for at least an hour every day right up to Saturday, 29 May 2021. There are also a few surprises coming up: Pete will be making another appearance in his Pokémon onesie and Phil and I are warming up our vocal chords for an evening of karaoke.
Streaming isn’t the only way we show our continued support for SpecialEffect though. I’ve regularly volunteered for the charity by helping out on their stand during expos such as EGX and Comic Con since finding out about their work in 2013, and can’t wait to get back to it once such events are allowed again. I’ve also taken part in the ASICS London 10K a few times and am hoping to finally cross the finish line in under an hour at this year’s event on Sunday, 25 July 2021.
One of the biggest ways in which the lockdown has affected me is a drain of motivation, but I’ve tried to keep running regularly since a long-service award from my employer meant I was able to buy myself a treadmill in November. I might not feel like it some days but forcing myself to leave my laptop at lunch-time for a run means I get a much-needed break away from the ‘office’ while working from home. Plus it stops me from feeling too guilty when I treat myself to a Creme Egg in the evenings.
(@SpecialEffect) March 23, 2021
The hardest part of running for me personally isn’t so much the physical exertion: it’s the mental endurance needed to continue for longer distances. On the particularly tough days I find myself constantly watching the clock and counting down the minutes until I can stop. It’s a blessing when friends are streaming in the afternoon as listening to them talk provides a pleasant distraction (shout-outs to Darkshoxx and Nathan from Gaming Omnivore); but on the days when they’re not available, staying on track can be difficult.
This explains why I signed up immediately when SpecialEffect announced a new event a couple of weeks ago. In collaboration with game illustrator and writers RPG Toons and R-N-W, the charity has created an RPG-inspired virtual fitness challenge that transforms your usual run into a quest through mountains, forests and epic landscapes. It’s up to you to find a travel beyond the small village of Loftwood to find a cure for the glum and listless feeling which has infected its inhabitants in StrideQuest.
This distance-based adventure can be experienced as part of your normal daily routine and sounds as if it’s going to make any walk, jog or run that little bit more exciting. As miles are covered, successive segments of a unique fictional map that unlock the next chapter of the story will be emailed to everyone taking part. You can choose to make your journey either 50- or 100-miles and by the end of it, you’ll have travelled through new and wonderous lands as well as finding the remedy for the mysterious illness.
All you need to do is sign up via Eventbrite, complete the miles for your chosen challenge between 01 April and 31 May 2021, and record your distance using a fitness app such as Strava or a smartwatch. Alternatively, you can email the team a photograph or screenshot and they’ll update your progress for you. If you’re thinking of getting back out there now that it’s spring and milder days are coming, perhaps StrideQuest is just what you need to give you that little bit extra incentive.
There’s no obligation to fundraise but there are some great incentives if you choose to do so. After registering, simply set up a JustGiving page linked to the charity’s StrideQuest campaign and raise £25 to get your hands on a limited-edition print of the full quest-map or aim £50 to be eligible for a themed t-shirt. I’ve created a fundraising page myself but I’m aware of just how much the community has supported our GameBlast21 efforts already, so I’ll be making a donation myself once I complete the 100-mile challenge.
If you decide to register to take part in StrideQuest yourself, please do let me know as it would be great to form a little support group to cheer each other on! I’ll give regular updates on my progress during our daily streams on Twitch and will let you know how I’m getting on in my round-up post at the end of April. Good luck!
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.