How does playing video games for 24-hours straight sound to you? Sure, it can be tiring and does take loads of stamina to see it through to the finish line, but it’s also a whole lot of fun. And if you add to it the ability to support an amazing cause while you’re doing it then it makes the day even more memorable.
Every February I take part in an annual gaming marathon called GameBlast for SpecialEffect. This UK-based charity puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of those with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games, using technology including modified joypads and eye-control software. Levelling the playing-field in this way isn’t only for entertainment: it has a profoundly positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation. It means everyone can come together and experience the joy of gaming.
I signed up to become a volunteer in 2013 and in the past six years have had the opportunity to speak to some of the people the organisation has helped. They visit individuals around the country to find out what they want to play and exactly what they need to do so, then match, modify or create equipment to lend to them. If a person’s needs change over time, the charity will keep going back to help them play to the best of their abilities – and what’s even more amazing is that they do all this work free of charge.
GameBlast sees hundreds of gamers across the UK come together in a weekend of gaming marathons to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. I’ve now taken part five times myself and have had so much fun every year. In the past our small team has run streams of all different lengths ranging from 24- to 72-hours, completing a range of silly challenges live on air for your viewing pleasure and making it through to the end of the event on adrenaline and high doses of caffeine.
For our next marathon we want to do something a little different and push ourselves even further for the charity. Can we play video games for at least an hour every day for 50-days straight, finishing the period with a 24-hour stream? We’re going to find out from Sunday, 05 January 2020. Adult responsibilities make this challenge far harder than it initially seems and it’s going to take plenty of organisation and coordination – not to mention a ton of batteries for our controllers.
Today sees the start of our preparation for the event and we’ll bring you monthly updates from now until next year, when GameBlast20 officially happens from 21-23 February 2020. We already know there’s an awful lot of things we need to consider and there’s probably also some we haven’t even thought about yet. If you have any advice or suggestions, or would like to get involved in some way, please leave us a note in the comments below and we’ll include it in our planning.
There’ll be more news coming in early August. In the meantime, you can find out more about SpecialEffect and their work by visiting their website and giving hem a follow on Twitter. There’s a bunch of posts here if you’d like to hear what it’s like to be a volunteer and you can sign-up yourself by getting in touch with Becky Frost.