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GameBlast23: lessons learnt

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The GameBlast marathon is officially over for another year.

Over the weekend from Friday, 24 to Sunday, 26 February 2023, hundreds of gamers all over the UK took part in extended gaming sessions. This wasn’t just for fun however – their aim was to raise as many funds and as much awareness as possible for SpecialEffect.

You’ll have already heard of this charity if you’re a regular Later Levels’ visitor, but here’s a quick overview for anyone who hasn’t. At the heart of its work is the mission to maximise fun and quality of life by helping people with physical disabilities to play video games. A range of technology including modified controllers and eye-controlled software is used to find a way for individuals to play to the best of their abilities.

Pete and I decided to do something special for GameBlast23, the event’s tenth anniversary. Instead of doing our usual 24-hour marathon, we decided to stream a game from each year of the event’s existence over a period of ten days. We also managed to rope some friends in for the ride: friends-of-the-blog Ellen and Philip who streamed over on Pragmatic Pixel, along with Kevin from The Lawful Geek.

I’ve participated in the GameBlast marathons since they started back in 2014 and each one has taught me something new. Tips about streaming in general, ideas for creating content, and understanding how truly supportive our friends within the community are. I like to share a round-up of the lessons learnt afterwards so we can keep track of our experiences and benefit from them in following years. So, in normal Later Levels’ style, here’s an overview of what happened during GameBlast23.

I like to share a round-up of the lessons learnt afterwards so we can keep track of our experiences and benefit from them in following years.

Lesson one: accept that something will always go wrong

One of the lessons we’ve realised in previous years is that something will always go wrong during a marathon stream. But it’s not so much being prepared to fix it that matters; what’s more important is accepting it’s going to happen and being able to roll with it when it does. The regular streams we started doing a couple of months before GameBlast23 gave us more experience with new streaming software and hardware, so the stress within the Later Levels’ household was kept to a minimum.

Lesson two: Pete still doesn’t like Pikachu

As some point before our GameBlast21 event, someone managed to talk Pete into wearing a Pikachu onesie for the whole 24-hours. This has since become a running theme and not one our friends will let him forget. It’s thanks to fellow Shadowrun player Kat that he ended up wearing it again this year, despite protesting for weeks that he wasn’t going to do it. It was worth it for SpecialEffect though: Pete’s latest Pikachu impression managed to bag a few more donations for the charity and push up our fundraising total.

Lesson three: an amazing mod makes your life much easier

An awesome mod is worth their weight in gold as they can take some of the ‘admin’ work off your shoulders. For the past couple of years, Ellen (also known as SolarayoXIII) has kindly offered to look after our Twitch channel during marathon streams and she does an amazing job. She always keeps her eyes out for bots, posts the relevant links when we mention something of interest, and welcomes raiders by giving them a shout-out. We couldn’t have made it through ten days of streaming for GameBlast23 without her!

Lesson four: puns are ducking awesome

After Placid Plastic Duck Simulator was a success in December, we decided to show our thanks for everyone’s support by streaming it for an extended session. Everyone who’d donated up to that point had a bird named after them and it was a pleasure to see so many duck-related puns increase the pun counter. Pete may have claimed this isn’t a game back in January, but I’m not sure he can still say that after seeing a duck dedicated to Mr. Wapojif from Professional Moron make an escape. You don’t get action like that just anywhere.

Lesson five: we still need a new sofa

After every GameBlast event, we realise we need a new sofa as quickly as possible yet we still haven’t gotten around to actually sorting this out. We’ve had the old thing for such a long time and it’s only a few days after a marathon stream that we finally regain the feeling in our legs. It would be great if we could finally sort a new one out for GameBlast24 next year… but something tells me I’ll be writing exactly the same thing in February 2024 while waiting for that pins-and-needles feeling to subside.

Everyone who showed their support during GameBlast23 generated a grand total of over £150,000 for SpecialEffect!

It’s thanks to you guys that we managed to raise an amazing £3,023 for SpecialEffect. What’s even more wonderful is that everyone who showed their support during GameBlast23 generated a grand total of over £150,000! This money will be used by the charity to support many more gamers with physical disabilities free of charge. Check out this image for an overview on what your donations can achieve, and visit SpecialEffect’s YouTube channel to see examples of their work.

The fun doesn’t stop here. Our JustGiving page will remain open for another few months as I recently signed up to take part in another fundraising event for the charity – one which involves a lot more movement than playing video games while sitting on that damn sofa mentioned above. There’ll be more details coming about that soon. In the meantime, I’ll be volunteering on the SpecialEffect stand at WASD on Friday, 31 March 2023 so come say hello if you’re going to be there.

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