GameBlast23 update: a GameBlast from the past
SpecialEffect is a charity that believes it’s everyone’s turn to play.
The organisation puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games, by using a range of technology and software. This not only brings families and friends together but has a profoundly positive impact on confidence and quality of life too.
I’ve been involved with SpecialEffect since meeting the team at the EGX expo in September 2013. As well as volunteering on their stands at events across the UK, I’ve also taken part in their annual GameBlast event since it began the following year. It’s the perfect way to do what we love and have a beneficial impact on others at the same time.
You can find out more about it in my last update but here’s a quick reminder: this event sees hundreds of gamers from all over the country come together on Twitch to take part in extended gaming sessions to raise funds and awareness for the charity. Over £200,000 was donated during GameBlast22 in February, helping the bring the joy of video games in the lives of many more people.
It’s never too early to start planning for the next marathon and we usually begin organising ourselves around this time each year. The first step is to come up with an idea for a format and sometimes it can be difficult to think of something to top your previous streams. To give us some inspiration, here’s a quick tour through all the games we’ve played, dares we’ve completed and costumes we’ve worn for past GameBlast events.
2023 will be GameBlast’s tenth anniversary, an amazing achievement. It’s only right then that we do something very special to celebrate.
I participated in the first GameBlast with friends-of-the-blog Ben and Phil. None of us had ever attempted 24-hours of gaming before and so we went into it a little naïve about just how much of a challenge it would be, but I remember having a lot of fun. We decided to complete dares each time we hit a fundraising target, including the lads wearing lipstick on stream and me dressing up as a sheep. I think there may also still be a video somewhere of us doing a workout routine clad in Lycra… but let’s keep that a secret.
Sadly, a family situation at the beginning of the year meant I couldn’t participate in February 2015. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t cancelled my involvement completely for this year and had instead completed a marathon a few months later. This is the only GameBlast I haven’t participated in and it would be nice to be able to say I’ve been there for all of them. You do what’s necessary during challenging times like this though, and I still feel proud when I look back over all the events I’ve participated in for SpecialEffect.
This was Pete’s first ever GameBlast and the biggest one for me in terms of team size: bloggers and friends joined together to form an eight-person team called Gamely Giving and complete a 48-hour marathon in six-hour shifts. The hardest part was coordinating everyone and making sure the stream stayed up continuously for the entire period. I’m glad I’d been prepared enough to make sure every streamer had a backup watching them, because one person fell asleep on air and someone else had to jump in!
In 2017 came the biggest GameBlast in terms of length: a 72-hour marathon with the help of Kevin from The Lawful Geek and friend-of-the-blog Nathan. Challenges made a return for this year, and it was great seeing Kevin play Octodad expertly with only one hand and Nathan get a Crash Bandicoot tattoo after we’d hit our fundraising target. The worst part though was the shifts. I took the session from 04:00 to 10:00 each day, which really messed with my sleeping pattern and made me feel like a zombie.
We toned things down for the 2018 event with a shorter 24-hour marathon but this time, Ben and Nathan spent the weekend with Pete and I. This led to one of my favourite GameBlast moments during a game of That’s You! In the early hours of the morning when we were all hysterical from laughter and lack of sleep. Trying to look after everyone while checking on social media and playing video games may have been extremely tiring, but it was lovely having the team in the same room and this was a year with a great vibe.
We stuck to 24-hours for this GameBlast and thought it would be a much smaller affair as only Pete and I were taking part. But on the day, friends-of-the-blog Tim and Jake decided to complete an impromptu marathon alongside us and played The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) for entire period. We quickly set up a new OBS scene which meant we could drop in on them and see how they were doing while streaming ourselves. Being able to cheer each other on in this way helped us all reach the end together.
We did something totally new for this year after coming up with an idea which was utterly brilliant – or completely insane if ask Pete. We played video games every day for at least an hour for a 50-day period and, as if that wasn’t enough, topped the whole thing off with a 24-hour marathon. To be honest, I’m still surprised we managed to pull it off because we were totally shattered by the end. We had our awesome mods to thank for pulling us through, Ellen from Ace Asunder and friend-of-the-blog Phil.
There was only one way we were going to be able to go bigger for GameBlast now: stream for even longer. Following a 24-hour marathon show on the official weekend, our #DaysForDonations scheme was due to have us streaming every day for the next 100 days thanks to everyone’s sponsorship. Unfortunately, we had to cut this period short after a disagreement between certain viewers. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but we didn’t want the focus to be taken away from SpecialEffect and it was the right thing to do.
After last year’s situation, we wanted to keep our participation in GameBlast a smaller affair this time around. So instead of doing an extended streaming session, Pete, Ellen, Phil and I decided to celebrate the Monkey Island series by playing one of the instalments each day over a period of four days. It was great being able to introduce my friends to some of my favourite games and meet people in Twitch chat who were also fans – while being able to maintain a normal sleep and eating schedule for once!
That’s nine previous events covered so that can only mean one thing: 2023 will be GameBlast’s tenth anniversary, an amazing achievement for SpecialEffect. It’s only right then that we do something very special to celebrate this milestone. We might still be thinking about what that will involve but I can already guarantee it will include plenty of video games, KFC and coffee, along with more of Pete’s wonderful tunes. Please do get in touch if you have any ideas because we’d love to hear them.
Make sure you visit the SpecialEffect stand if you’re going to the EGX expo this week – and come say hello on Friday when I’ll be volunteering!
I’ll bring you another update on our progress towards GameBlast23 at the end of October. In the meantime, make sure you visit the SpecialEffect stand if you’re going to the EGX expo in London this week – and be sure to come and say hello on Friday when I’ll be volunteering there! You’ll have the opportunity to meet a few members of the team, see some examples of the charity’s amazing work, and try out some of their equipment for yourself. There’s usually a bit of singing and dancing too.
If GameBlast sounds like something you’d like to take part in yourself, you can sign up via JustGiving or Tiltify and receive regular updates by following the official Twitter account. There’s also plenty of useful information on the SpecialEffect website. It’s time to help everybody get back in the game.