Ethan’s Mini Marathon: lessons learnt

During the weekend just passed, myself and the rest of the Gamely Giving team participated in a 16-hour gaming marathon with the aim of raising as much awareness and money as possible for the amazing charity that is SpecialEffect. A huge thank you to those gorgeous people who joined us while we were live on Twitch!

This event was much shorter than our previous 72-hour stream back in April and, even though it ran a little more smoothly, it wasn’t without a few minor bumps. Here’s what our latest experience has taught me…

Sometimes real life gets in the way

Instagram, Pete, stream, Ethan's Mini Marathon, asleep

Despite us arranging this marathon after our last event three months ago, poor Nathan and Pete were required to go into work before their stream shifts as a result of real life getting in the way of gaming. This unfortunately left them both worn out – and Pete falling asleep on the sofa next to me during my own shift – but they bravely battled on and it made it through to the end of the 16-hours. Well done boys, I’m proud of you.

However much you test, you haven’t tested enough (part 2)

Instagram, Ethan, stream, Ethan's Mini Marathon,

During our last marathon, we experienced some pretty big technical issues at the start: my capture card decided to throw a proper wobbly during the first 90 minutes of the stream despite us testing for two weeks beforehand. I’m happy to report that there were no such problems this time and we think we’ve managed to figure out what’s going on; the damn thing hates hot-swaps and much prefers to be shut down completely. This means that if we ever attempt 72-hours again, I’m going to need to put some thought in getting around this.

Ethan and I think way too much alike

Instagram, Quiplash, stream, Ethan's Mini Marathon,

Anybody who tuned into either my own or Pete’s shift would have realised that my other-half makes up songs about everything: from cooking the dinner to cleaning the bathroom, there’s usually a tune to go along with it. It was therefore not much of a coincidence that both Ethan and I chose the same answer when we went head-to-head on a round of Quiplash – and now the entire world knows what really cracked the Liberty Bell.

877 blocks of TNT isn’t as impressive as you think

For every £1 donated during our fundraising efforts for SpecialEffect this year, Ethan has been placing a block of TNT on a tower in his Minecraft world with the intention of blowing it up at the end of last weekend’s marathon. You’d think that a structure made of 877 combustible blocks would cause a pretty impressive explosion, right? Take a look at the video opposite to see for yourself (apologies for the poor sound quality – a certain ten-year old was a little over-excited).

Trolls will turn up, even if it’s a charity event

Instagram, Twitch, chat, fake donation,, stream, Ethan's Mini Marathon,

When we completed our 72-hour marathon, there wasn’t a single viewer who displayed any kind of inappropriate behaviour; but there were three in the 16-hours completed on Saturday. These clever people thought it would be a great idea to enter fake donations into the Twitch chat – even though there’s no donate button on the Gamely Giving channel and we haven’t set up a PayPal link. CashVillain, jabby134 and Dunkz: for your stupidity, you’ve been banned.

Events like these are so worthwhile

Instagram, Twitch, Wotsits, crisps, keyboard, mouse,, stream, Ethan's Mini Marathon,

I can’t thank you lovely people enough for all of your support, and much love to Luke from Hudstrasse and Ian from Adventure Rules for chatting to us during the stream. A number of you also donated – it means so much to me and the rest of the team!

We’re currently sitting at a grand total of £877.90 for SpecialEffect and we’ve had so much fun getting here. The Gamely Giving JustGiving page will remain open until the end of the year if anyone would like to sponsor us and support the charity.

Once more, and from the bottom of my heart: thank you.   ❤

Gamely Giving: Ethan’s Mini Marathon

Earlier this year, myself and the rest of the Gamely Giving team participated in a 72-hour stream to raise funds and awareness for the amazing SpecialEffect. This was the longest gaming marathon we’ve ever completed together and it was certainly an eye-opener. Not everything went according to plan and we definitely learnt a few new, tough lessons.

That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves immensely however whilst also doing our bit for GameBlast17: we managed to raise £832.90, with over £100,000 being donated to the organisation in total during the event. It’s a great achievement for our team despite being a little way off of our £1,000 target but that doesn’t mean we’re sitting back and taking it easy.

Starting at 07:00 GMT tomorrow, I’ll be taking part in Ethan’s Mini Marathon with a group of friends and bloggers in honour of the charity once again. Anyone who has visited Later Levels previously may already have heard of them but for those who haven’t, it’s a fantastic UK-based organisation that helps people with physical disabilities to play video games. They do this using equipment such as modified controllers and eye-control technology, all free-of-charge.

Join us on our Twitch channel from 07:00 GMT until 23:00 GMT tomorrow to witness the following batch of gorgeous gaming delights:

Great games Our event is being hosted by ten-year old Ethan, and under his direction each of our streamers has chosen a family-friendly game so you can watch along with your children. More details and times can be found in our stream schedule.

Big explosions Ethan is a huge fan of Minecraft and has come up with his own unique way of supporting the charity: for every £1 donated, he’ll place a block of TNT on the tower set up in his online world along with a sign showing the supporter’s name. He’ll then light it towards the end of the marathon and see how much destruction it causes – BOOM!

Plenty of feels Everything we’re doing tomorrow is for SpecialEffect and all money raised will go directly to the organisation to enable them to continue their wonderful work. Donations can be made via our JustGiving page or by texting ‘GGGB99 £5’ to 70070, and we’re so grateful for every penny given. Big hugs to those people who have already sponsored us – you’re amazing.


It’s time to reach that £1,000 target! Join us over on the Gamely Giving Twitch channel from 07:00 GMT tomorrow and send us a tweet to give us some encouragement. We really appreciate your support!

GameBlast17: lessons learnt

That’s it: the GameBlast17 event is now over. During the weekend just passed, I participated in a 72-hour gaming marathon with the aim of raising as much awareness and money as possible for the amazing charity that is SpecialEffect. A huge thank you to those lovely people who joined us while we were live on Twitch!

This is the longest marathon we’ve ever done and it was certainly an eye-opener: not everything went according to plan and we definitely learnt a few new, tough lessons. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves however; we had an absolutely excellent time and have already started talking about what we’re going to do for GameBlast18. Here’s what the experience of this year’s event taught me…

However much you test, you haven’t tested enough

Instagram, cat, link, stream problems, GameBlast

After two weeks’ worth of testing during which there were no big issues, my capture card decided to throw some major problems our way during the first 90 minutes of the marathon. We’re still not entirely sure of the cause: it decided to stop pulling game sound into the stream. Eventually we got the damn thing running again, although it was up-and-down throughout the entire 72-hours.

Apologies to anybody watching at those times and thank you for bearing with us. It goes to show you that however much you test, it can never be enough – there’ll always be a situation you haven’t tested for.

Point-and-clicks aren’t great to play at 04:00 in the morning

Each member of the Gamely Giving team team chose a genre for the marathon and I took on adventure games. They’re something I’m comfortable with and I don’t find them ‘stressful’ to play, so I thought they’d be a good choice for the 04:00 to 10:00 shift after dragging myself our of bed.

Oh god, was I wrong. My brain couldn’t function properly after such a broken sleeping pattern and I couldn’t figure out the puzzles put in front of me; I ended up resorting to a walkthrough after realising I’d been walking around the same few rooms for thirty minutes. Next year I’ll be choosing role-playing games with a little more action, something to keep me focused and awake.

Eventually, you forget the camera and make a fool of yourself

Instagram, GameBlast,, cat, Zelda, sleep, sunshine

My cats, Link and Zelda, made frequent appearances on the stream after taking a shine to Nathan and choosing to sit on the sofa with us rather than hide away upstairs. The only problem with that was we eventually we forgot about the webcam being in the room… and started ‘baby-talking’ to them while live on air. Yes, I tell my cats they’re pretty; and no, I don’t have any street-cred left. Don’t judge me.

There’s no such thing as too much sleep

Instagram, sleep, Pete, Nathan, tired, snore, sofa

Adrenaline on the first night of the stream kept us all awake until the early hours – even myself, who went to bed around 23:00 to get some sleep before a 04:00 start and just couldn’t drop off. Every single member of the team ended up falling asleep live on air at least once during another person’s shift because our sleep-patterns were so broken… there may be a video-montage coming at some point.

One of the upsides though was that by the end of the marathon, we were all so delirious we ended up having some really bizarre conversations. Nathan proposed a number of ‘unique’ ideas for new video games – I suggest any developers reading get in touch with him as soon as possible.

Wotsits are the food of gods

Tweet, GameBlast, video games, Gamely Giving, snacks, box, crisps, Wotsits, Quavers, Kitcats, Mimi Rolls

Despite buying in the food recommended by SpecialEffect for consumption during a gaming marathon – apples, bananas, fruit loaf, muesli bars and the like – we ended up eating crisps. A whole lot of crisps. So much so that we’ve all now developed an addiction to Wotsits, are starting to look slightly orange and seem to be leaving a strange, synthetic cheesy smell in our wake. God I need a salad and a gallon of water, as soon as possible.

When men get together, there’s at least one South Park joke

It’s one of those unexplained mysteries of the universe: why is it that whenever a group of men get together, there’s always at least one South Park reference? Pete and Nathan seemed to develop a bit of a bromance over the weekend and bonded over their shared love of the animation; unfortunately that meant lots of crude jokes and one-liners, the frequency of which only increased with lack of sleep.

Kevin is really good at playing Octodad one-handed

One of the forfeits submitted by our supporters for our marathon was to play the first level of Octodad using only one hand. As Kevin was the only member of the group who already had the game, he took one for the team and stepped up to take on the challenge when it came up on our Wheel of Forfeit.

This man was just too good. He blitzed through the first level in no time at all and took on as much of the rest of the title as he could with the time left on his shift. The rest of us were left amazed – and slightly jealous that he was able to complete it far better than we can using both hands.

Nathan is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met

I was introduced to Nathan just over a year ago by a friend-of-a-friend after he started popping up during a weekly stream we had going at the time. We’d never actually met in person until the marathon stream, when he came to stay with us in Essex in order to get himself a tattoo after the event.

There were two things I found out about him. Firstly, he has no sense of geography whatsoever; the tattoo parlour he was booked in at was based in Oxford and he thought this was in London, so there was a lot of frantic train-ticket-buying during the weekend. Secondly, he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met; I haven’t laughed so much in ages and he had me in stitches. This man is an absolute legend.

Pete puts up with a lot from me

Instagram, GameBlast, cosplay, Dad Quest, moustaches, Nathan, Kim, Pete, Excalibur Games

Pete is the sort of person doesn’t like a lot of attention. He doesn’t want to be the centre of a crowd, doesn’t particularly like being photographed or in front of a camera, and will always come up with an excuse to get out of wearing a costume if at all possible.

But the marathon saw him cosplaying as the main character from Dad Quest by Sundae Month while playing the game on air after we received a forfeit from the lovely team at Excalibur Games (that’s us us in all of our moustachioed-glory in the photograph opposite). Pete puts up with a hell of a lot from me and I couldn’t have done any of this without his support – he’s simply awesome.

The WordPress community is one of the best out there

I can’t thank you gorgeous people enough for all of your support. There were bloggers who posted announcements about the stream (Luna from GamersUnitedGG Blog, NekoJonez and The Gabby Gamer); individuals who turned up to watch every day (Rob from I Played The Game! and Luke from Hundstrasse) and kind people who promoted us on Twitter throughout the event (Ian from Adventure Rules). A number of you also donated – it means so much to me and the rest of the team!

It’s likely I’ve missed a number of people out of the mentions above and if that’s the case, I’m truly sorry. The weekend went by in a bit of a blur and although I tried to consciously remember as much of it as I could, I’m sure there were parts I’ve forgotten!

At the time of writing, we’ve raised £712.90 for SpecialEffect so we’re a little way off of our £1,000 target. It’s all positive though: we’ve already raised over £120 more than we did during our GameBlast event last year and have several upcoming events to help push us even closer towards our goal. The Gamely Giving JustGiving page will remain open until the end of the year if anyone would like to sponsor us and support the charity.

Once again, and from the bottom of my heart – thank you.   ❤

GameBlast 2017: let’s do this

This afternoon, I’ll be taking part in a marathon video game session with a group of friends and bloggers that’s set to last for 72-hours. It’s not just an excuse to game for three days straight and forget about our adult responsibilities though: it’s all in honour of SpecialEffect.

Anyone who has visited Later Levels previously may already have heard of the charity but for this who haven’t, it’s a fantastic UK-based organisation that helps people with physical disabilities to play video games. They do this using equipment such as modified controllers and eye-control technology, all free-of-charge. It’s not just about fun though: levelling the playing field in this way promotes inclusion and kickstarts rehabilitation and confidence.

Our stream-team is called Gamely Giving and our aim this weekend is to raise as much funds and awareness as possible for SpecialEffect, while at the same time giving you guys something entertaining to watch (and possibly embarrassing ourselves live on air). Join us on our Twitch channel from 16:00 GMT today until 16:00 GMT on Monday to witness the following batch of gorgeous gaming delights:

Great games Each of our streamers has chosen a genre (I’m taking care of adventure) and will be playing both a classic and a new release to show off the best of the category. We’ll also be attempting a game we’ve never played before nominated for us by the rest of the team to put our credentials to the test. I’ll be taking on Simon the Sorcerer, Ether One and Four Last Things – more details and times can be found on our stream schedule.

Embarrassing forfeits Whenever we hit £100 in donations, we’ll be using our Wheel of Forfeit to randomly select one of these challenges submitted by our followers for completion at the top of the hour. We already have two lined up: playing Dad Quest while cosplaying as the hero and trying to steer a car in Jalopy while blindfolded. These don’t worry me so much, but the karaoke forfeit… I highly recommend having some ear-plugs handy if you’re watching the stream when that one comes up.

Awesome prizes Several lovely developers have kindly donated keys which we’ve used to put together some excellent PC game bundles. For every £50 received, we’ll use our Wheel of Fortune to randomly select a lucky supporter to win one of these 20 prizes and will announce the winners next week. All you need to do to enter the giveaways is follow the Gamely Giving social media channels – good luck!

Big explosions My stepson Ethan is a huge fan of Minecraft and has come up with his own unique way of supporting the charity: for every £1 donated, he’ll place a block of TNT on the tower set up in his online world along with a sign showing the supporter’s name. He’ll then be completing his own mini-marathon next month (date to be announced), the finale of which will be to blow the tower up. BOOM!

Plenty of feels Everything we’re doing this weekend in is for SpecialEffect and all money raised will go directly to the organisation to enable them to continue their wonderful work. Donations can be made via our JustGiving page or by texting ‘GGGB99 £5’ to 70070, and we’re so grateful for every penny given. Big hugs to those people who have already sponsored us – you’re amazing.

Come on, how could you resist? Join us over on the Twitch channel from 16:00 GMT today and send us a tweet to give us some encouragement. We really appreciate your support!

Gamely Giving: helping others get back in the game

SpecialEffect aims to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games. Levelling the playing-field in this way has a profoundly positive impact on therapy, rehabilitation and confidence – and what’s more, the charity does all of this work free of charge.

I’ve supported them since meeting Media & Graphic Designer Hannah Whittaker at the EGX event in September 2013 and have been fortunate enough to see some of their work close-up. Volunteering on the charity’s stand at previous expos gave me the opportunity to set up the equipment, and show attendees how to play Rocket League using only their chins and control Minecraft with their eyes. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to do it all again at Rezzed next month.

Today is the official start of GameBlast17, the UK’s biggest video game marathon, and gamers all over the country will be streaming live for 24-hours to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. The sponsorship raised through the event will help the organisation change the lives of many more people – individuals such as John, who you can see in the video opposite.

A group of friends and I have participated in the GameBlast event under the team name of ‘Gamely Giving’ for the past few years, and we’re doing the same again in 2017. Unfortunately real-life has thrown some obstacles at us which have meant we’re unable to host our stream this weekend so we’re planning something huge to make up for it: from 16:00 GMT on Friday, 28 April 2017, we’ll be live on our Twitch channel continuously for 72 hours.

This isn’t a post to ask for donations (although I can’t deny that sponsorship via our JustGiving page would be fantastically awesome), but one to help promote SpecialEffect because it really is an amazing cause. If you have a few minutes to spare, please head over to their website or YouTube channel to see more of their fantastic work; and give them a follow on Twitter to stay up-to-date on their progress.

Good luck to all of the gamers out there taking part in GameBlast17 this weekend. We’ll be visiting your streams on Twitch to cheer you on – you’re all doing a great thing for an amazing cause.