GameBlast21: games and goals

How does playing video games for 24-hours straight sound to you? It’s certainly tiring and takes a whole load of stamina to make it through to the end, but it’s also a lot of fun. And doing it to support an amazing cause makes the experience even more worthwhile.

This is what’s going to happen on a dedicated weekend in February when hundreds of gamers all over the UK will be taking part in GameBlast21 to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. The charity aims to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with disabilities by using technology to help them play video games to the best of their abilities. This not only brings friends and families together but has a profoundly positive impact on confidence and quality of life too.

With now only a month to go until our own event, read on to find out about the games we’re going to be playing during our 24-hour stream along with our fundraising targets and the rewards you can expect to receive.

24-hour marathon game schedule confirmed

Towards the end of December, we asked you to help us decide on the schedule for our marathon stream by voting in a short series of polls. Thank you to everybody who took part and created the confirmed line-up! There’s a nice selection of games with a little something for all gaming tastes. We’ll try to stick to the timings below as much as possible and have posted a handy visual reminder of these here.

Date Time Genre Game Votes
Saturday,
27 February 2021
08:00 GMT Platformer DuckTales Remastered 48.39%
11:00 GMT Adventure Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars 62.50%
14:00 GMT Other Escape-room-in-a-box 51.61%
17:00 GMT Retro The X-Files: Resist or Serve 48.57%
20:00 GMT Action Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 48.48%
23:00 GMT Horror The 7th Guest: 25th Anniversary Edition 48.57%
Sunday,
28 February 2021
02:00 GMT FMV General Horse and the Package of Doom 48.15%
05:00 GMT MMO The Elder Scrolls Online 51.72%
08:00 GMT Stream ends Sleep 100%


#DaysForDonations fundraising targets and rewards so far

A huge thank you to everyone who has kindly donated to SpecialEffect through our JustGiving page to date! The higher we get, the more rewards that will be unlocked – so look forward to some special streams which are likely to involve us embarrassing ourselves. We’ll also complete an additional stream for at least an hour a day during a specified period after the main event, and you can see everything unlocked so far in the round-up below.

Target #DaysForDonations Achievement unlocked
Any amount raised No additional days 24-hour GameBlast21 stream on 27-28 February 2021
£500 raised 10 days (up to 10 March) Signed Zelda postcards are sent to all donators
£1,000 raised 20 days (up to 20 March) Pete wears a Pikachu costume for the 24-hour stream
£1,500 raised 30 days (up to 30 March) A signed copy of Project Zero is given away
£2,000 raised 40 days (up to 09 April) The team streams wearing Pokémon costumes
£2,500 raised 50 days (up to 19 April) The official #KaraokePete album is emailed to all donators
£3,000 raised 60 days (up to 29 April) The Lawful Geek hosts an extended TTRPG stream
£3,500 raised 70 days (up to 09 May) The team completes a cocktails-and-karaoke stream
£4,000 raised 80 days (up to 19 May) Ellen from Ace Asunder gets a Zelda and GameBlast tattoo
£4,500 raised 80 days (up to 29 May) Kim completes a treadmill marathon on stream
£5,000 raised 80 days (up to 08 June) #DaysForDonations finishes with another 24-hour stream


How you can get involved

We’d be lying if we said that donations weren’t greatly appreciated and put to good use. They enable SpecialEffect to continue their work assisting hundreds of physically-disabled people all over the UK to experience the joy of video games. The charity does this free of charge, and shares the knowledge gained from their lifelong assessment and support services with hardware and software developers – so a feature that’s worked successfully for one individual can then go on to benefit thousands of others.

Check out our JustGiving page for details if you’d like to donate. It’s not just about money though: anything you can do to raise awareness and help spread the word about SpecialEffect is hugely beneficial too, as it increases the potential for them to reach more people they can help. Tweet about the charity’s work, share the press release which will be published here in February, come along to any of our GameBlast21 streams and join us in chat; it’s all valuable and we’re so grateful for your support.

Give the official GameBlast account on Twitter a follow for the latest announcements and visit at the SpecialEffect website to find out more about what the charity do. It’s time to get everybody back in the game.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


GameBlast21: cast your votes

Gaming for 24-hours straight is no small task. But it’s made an awful lot easier if you’re doing it for a great cause, get some friends along to join you for the ride, make sure you have some good video games on your schedule.

It’s this ‘schedule’ part that we’re now focusing on as part of our plans for GameBlast21, an annual gaming marathon held to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. The aim of this UK-based charity is to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with disabilities by using technology to help them play video games to the very best of their abilities. This not only brings friends and families together but has a profoundly positive impact on confidence and quality of life too.

In last month’s update post, we revealed our format for the next marathon: #DaysForDonations. The higher the amount we manage to raise for SpecialEffect through our Justgiving page, the more days we’ll stream for and challenges we’ll complete. We’re already halfway through our fundraising tiers and thanks to the kindness and generosity of some amazing blogger-friends, and everyone who donates will receive a Zelda postcard and #KaraokePete digital album.

As mentioned above, our current focus is on creating an agenda for our 24-hour gaming marathon. This event is going to kick off at 08:00 GMT on Saturday, 27 February 2021 and you’ll be able to catch it all on the Later Levels’ Twitch channel. We’ll be playing eight titles from various genres throughout the weekend – as well as drinking coffee and eating as many cookies as possible – and we’re going to include as many as possible where others can join in if they’d like to.

But your help is needed to decide what those games are going to be, because who in their right minds would leave it to Pete, Phil and myself? We’ve each chosen our favourite titles for the categories below and we’re now going head-to-head to find out which are going to earn a spot on our schedule. Place your votes in the following polls by Sunday, 24 January 2021, and the winning titles will then be revealed in our next update post shortly afterwards.

Our current plan is to have Phil join us in person for the official GameBlast21 weekend, but obviously this is dependent on households being able to mix under whatever lockdown situation is in place at the time here in the UK. There’s therefore a chance that some arrangements and games may have to change at short notice, but we’ll try to stick to the schedule wherever possible!

All money donated via our JustGiving page goes directly to SpecialEffect to enable them to help many more physically-disabled gamers across the UK. As well as matching, modifying or creating equipment tailored to each individual, funding also goes into research and the information is shared with other organisations globally so everyone can benefit. The charity can continue their work, more people get to experience the joy of video games, and you get plenty of streaming action; could it get any better than that?

Be sure to follow the official GameBlast account on Twitter for the latest announcements and visit at the SpecialEffect website to find out more about the work of the charity. It’s time to get everybody back in the game.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


GameBlast21: the next challenge

Video games are more than just pixels. Many of us have relied on them during the lockdown not only as a form of entertainment, but as a way of staying connected with friends and managing our mental wellbeing too. So doesn’t everybody deserve to be able to benefit from them?

SpecialEffect is a UK-based charity which believes this. Since 2007, the team have aimed to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to get involved, and use a range of technology including modified controllers 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.

Along with hundreds of other enthusiastic gamers all over the country, my other-half and I join in with their annual GameBlast gaming marathon in February every year to help raise money and awareness for their amazing work. It’s such a worthwhile thing to participate in because we get to share our love of video games while helping level the playing-field for people with disabilities at the same time. Check out this post to find out more about SpecialEffect and how I became involved.

Completing a 24-hour marathon is always a huge achievement and one we enjoy taking part in immensely, but we’ve aimed to push ourselves further for each event so now we need a new test. How on earth are we going to do that after everything that happened for GameBlast20 this year? Well, now that the registration for the marathon has finally opened and the Later Levels’ team has officially signed up, we’re delighted to be able to announce…

#DaysForDonations, GameBlast21, SpecialEffect, charity, Later Levels, title

You’d think that spending every evening with Pete and I on Twitch for almost two months would have been more than enough for anybody. But no: several friends wanted us to continue the daily streams after our GameBlast20 50-day challenge. That’s why we’re doing #DaysforDonations for GameBlast21 – and dragging friend-of-the-blog Phil along for the ride – giving you guys the chance to determine how long we’ll go on for this time around, along with some other surprises.

Target:

#DaysForDonations:

Achievement Unlocked:

No additional days GameBlast21 stream from 08:00 GMT on Saturday, 27 February 2021
Daily streams for 10 days after the official event Signed Zelda postcards sent to everyone who donates to show our appreciation
Daily streams for 20 days after the official event The official GameBlast21 stream above completed with Pete wearing a Pikachu costume
Daily streams for 30 days after the official event A giveaway to win the signed copy of Project Zero that made Pete rage-quit on stream
Daily streams for 40 days after the official event Special stream completed with Pete, Kim, Phil and Ethan in Pokémon costumes
Daily streams for 50 days after the official event Digital copy of the official #KaraokePete album sent to every person who donates
Daily streams for 60 days after the official event Special extended tabletop-RPG stream featuring Kevin from TheLawfulGeek
Daily streams for 70 days after the official event Special 80s-themed karaoke-and-cocktails stream completed by Kim and Phil
Daily streams for 80 days after the official event A pixelated-Zelda tattoo, complete with GameBlast logo, for Ellen from Ace Asunder
Daily streams for 90 days after the official event A 26.2-mile treadmill marathon completed by Kim and streamed on Twitch
Daily streams for 100 days after the official event #DaysForDonations finished off with another 24-hour stream

All money donated via our JustGiving page goes directly to SpecialEffect to enable them to help many more physically-disabled gamers across the UK. As well as matching, modifying or creating equipment tailored to each individual, funding also goes into research and the information is shared with other organisations globally so everyone can benefit. The charity can continue their work, more people get to experience the joy of video games, and you get plenty of streaming action; could it get any better than that?

Pete, Phil and myself are now going to start thinking about which games to schedule for our 24-hour stream and we’d love to hear your ideas: give us your suggestions in the comments below and keep your eyes peeled for another update in December. If GameBlast21 sounds like something you’d be interested in participating in yourself, check out the official website for more details and give the team a follow on Twitter to see the latest announcements.

It’s time to get everybody back in the game.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


GameBlast21: a sneak preview

Video games can be more than entertainment. They can help us see the world through another person’s eyes and experience their stories, as well as giving us the opportunity to meet new friends with similar interests. They have the power to do a whole lot of good and change lives.

That’s why I support SpecialEffect, a UK-based charity which helps people with physical disabilities to play video games using technology including modified controllers and eye-control software. Along with hundreds of other gamers all over the country, my other-half and I take part in their annual GameBlast gaming marathon every February to help raise funds and awareness for the amazing work they do. Check out this post to find out more about them and how I became involved seven years ago.

Following on from our 50-day challenge for GameBlast20 this year, we’ve been thinking up ways to make GameBlast21 even better and can’t wait to announce the format for our next marathon. The only problem is that SpecialEffect haven’t yet opened registration for the event (at the time of writing)! It’s a little difficult to set targets and timescales for ourselves until we’re able to sign up and publish our fundraising page – but that doesn’t mean we can’t give you a sneak preview of some of our plans.

PikaPewPete

pikachu, cartoon, anime, animalPete is stepping up to the challenge for GameBlast21: after receiving a suggestion during one of our streams about dressing up as Pikachu, he’ll be donning a lovely yellow costume if we reach our fundraising goal. The target hasn’t yet been set where registration isn’t open right now and he’s not entirely happy about the idea, but together we can make this happen. Just be sure to be there when it does and to get as many clips as you can so I can turn them into a montage video afterwards.

Crit Me With Your One-Shot

tabletop, RPG, Shadowrun, TheLawfulGeek, stream, TwitchKevin from The Lawful Geek has offered to put together a one-shot tabletop-RPG for our GameBlast21 plans. Anyone who has ever joined us on his Twitch channel for one of our fortnightly Shadowrun sessions will know how much fun this is going to be – and just how much trouble this games-master is likely to get our characters into. If it sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to be involved in, please do get in touch and we’ll send you more details as soon as we have them.

The Great Biscuit Break-Off

plate, biscuitsAnyone who’s watched us on Twitch will be aware of just how much Pete likes sweet treats. But is his knowledge of baked goods up to the test? We’ll be finding out during a special gameshow called The Great Biscuit Break-Off where he’ll have to guess which biscuits are being broken in half from sound-clips alone. Will he get the answers right and be allowed to gorge on cookies for the rest of the evening or will he fail spectacularly? This might be a tenuous idea dreamt up on title alone but we’re going to roll with it.

Welcome to the Punderdome

EGX, video games, A Light in Chorus, PhilPhil has been making himself known this year by popping up during everybody’s streams and throwing out dad-jokes in chat as though they’re going out of fashion. He may now be known as the Pun Master to many – but just how strong is his wit? It’s time to challenge him to Welcome to the Punderdome, another special gameshow where we’ll putting him to the test with several rounds of fast and furious pun-based action. Will he claim victory and be crowned King of the One-Liners?

Cats, Cross-Stitch and Conversation

Zelda, cat, laptop, cuteAfter all the excitement of the other shows we’re planning, why not join me for something a little more relaxing? I’ll be attempting to create a pattern based on our very own Zelda during a cross-stitch stream one evening. I can’t guarantee that the sewing itself will actually be any good, the star will stay on camera throughout the whole session or Pete won’t fall asleep on the sofa. But I can promise that there’ll be lots of tea and conversation, and probably a few wrong stitches too.

Plenty of video games

Video games, cases, boxes, pile, backlogGameBlast21 wouldn’t be a marathon event without an extended gaming session, so we’ll be live on Twitch for 24-hours during the official weekend from 08:00 on Saturday, 27 February 2021. But that’s not all: after this year’s 50-day challenge, it would be a shame to limit the event to one day only! We’ll be announcing further plans once we’re able to register and set up our fundraising page, hopefully by the time our next update is due to be published at the end of November.

There’s plenty more to come and we’ll keep you all updated in our regular monthly updates. In the meantime, give us a shout if you’d like to join in with anything we’ve got planned or have suggestions for other streams with pun-based titles! Alternatively, if the GameBlast marathon sounds like something you’d like to take part in yourself, check out this year’s website for further information and keep your eyes peeled for updates when registration opens.

Also be sure to follow the official GameBlast account on Twitter for the latest announcements and visit at the SpecialEffect website to find out more about the work of the charity. It’s time to get everybody back in the game.

GameBlast21: it’s everyone’s turn to play

How does playing video games for 24-hours straight sound to you? It’s certainly tiring and takes a whole load of stamina to make it through to the end, but it’s also a lot of fun. And doing it to support an amazing cause makes the experience even more memorable.

This is what happens on a dedicated weekend in February every year for the GameBlast gaming marathon – the perfect way to do what we love and change the lives of others at the same time. Hundreds of gamers all over the UK come together to take part in extended gaming sessions to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. Over £950,000 has been generously donated through the events so far and this money goes towards helping the charity continue their fantastic work.

Haven’t heard of them before and aren’t sure what they do? To sum it up: this organisation believes it’s everyone’s turn to play video games. They put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to get involved, and use a range of technology such as modified controllers 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.

As explained in a post at the end of August, I’ve been involved with SpecialEffect since 2013 after meeting the team at the EGX expo. In the past seven years I’ve volunteered for the charity, helping on their stand at events across London and hosting presentations on their work, and have also taken part in GameBlast every February. Having the opportunity to see the equipment they use and meet some of the people they’ve helped has really made me see that video games are more than simply entertainment and can do a whole lot of good.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Chase several times. His severe cerebral palsy means he couldn’t use a standard controller, but now he’s able to play with his friends thanks to a custom setup created by the charity. His mum Nikki said in an interview: “Particularly for disabled people, I think games are really important because someone who’s able-bodied can go and play golf, they can drive a car, they can do almost anything in real life. Chase isn’t going to have those same opportunities, so being able to play a game creates a level playing field.”

Positive stories like this are the reason why I continue to support SpecialEffect, and why Pete and I decided to attempt our biggest challenge yet for GameBlast20 this year. Forget a straight-forward 24-hour marathon – this time we were going to play video games for at least an hour every day for 50-days and stream it all to the Later Levels’ Twitch channel. A total of 136 hours of gaming, hundreds of cups of coffee and support from the wonderful bloggers here within the community meant we were able to raise an awesome £600 for the charity.

Later Levels, Kim, Pete, faces, smiling, GameBlast19, SpecialEffect, stream

The question is now though: how on earth are we going to top that for GameBlast21 next February? It’s one I’ve been asking myself regularly this month as I usually start planning for the event around this time of year. Completing a 24-hour marathon is always a huge achievement and one we enjoy doing immensely, but we’ve aimed to push ourselves further each time. Can we come up with a new idea and would we even be willing to put ourselves through something as crazy as the 50-day challenge all over again?

The answer is, of course, yes.

Our plan for GameBlast21 is beginning taking shape and although I’m not going to reveal what it is just yet to keep you in suspense, I can promise you that it’s going to be big. You can expect plenty of video games, a dedicated tabletop-RPG, a Pikachu costume, mountains of Wotsits, a special guest and probably a few #KaraokePete songs from my other-half too. All of this will be encapsulated within several streams, along with an extended 24-hour session live on Twitch on the official weekend of 26-28 February 2021.

From now until then, we’ll be bringing you monthly updates on how our road to GameBlast21 is going. Keep your eyes peeled for the end of October when we reveal the format for the next charity event and some of the surprises we’ve got in store for you! If GameBlast sounds like something you’d be interested in taking part in yourself, check out this year’s website for further information; this will be updated when registration opens, usually around the end of September.

Also be sure to follow the official GameBlast account on Twitter for the latest announcements and take a look at the SpecialEffect website to find out more about the work they do. It’s time to help everybody get back in the game.

Gaming for good: my GameBlast history

SpecialEffect is a wonderful UK-based charity that believes it’s everyone’s turn to play. The team puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of those with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games, through modified equipment and eye-control software.

I’ve been a volunteer since first finding out about their work at the EGX expo in 2013 and have participated in their annual gaming marathon since it began the following year. GameBlast takes place over three days every February and sees people across the country come together to raise funds and awareness for the charity. A total of over £950,000 has been donated through these weekends over the past seven years, helping to change the lives of thousands of people with disabilities who could previously only watch everyone else have all the fun.

GameBlast21 is scheduled for 26-28 February 2021 and, even though registration doesn’t happen for another month or so, I start planning for the event in September. We normally have a good idea for the format for our next gaming marathon by late August but this time around, I’m afraid to say we’re stumped. Perhaps looking back over what we’ve lined up for previous GameBlasts will give us the inspiration we need to dream up something spectacular for next year…

GameBlast14

I participated in my 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 of just how much a challenge it would be, but I remember having an awful lot of fun. We decided to complete a number of challenges each time we hit a fundraising target, including the boys wearing lipstick on stream and me dressing up as a sheep. I think there may also still be a video of us floating around online somewhere, clad in shiny lycra and doing a workout routine.

GameBlast15

Sadly, a death in the family at the beginning of the year meant I couldn’t participate in 2015 and this is the only event I haven’t been a part of so far in its history. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t cancelled my involvement completely for 2015 and had instead completed a marathon a few months later so I could now say I’ve been there for every GameBlast. You do what you need to do at the time during such difficult situations though, and it’s still an achievement to know I’ve been there for every marathon except one.

GameBlast16

This was my other-half’s first ever GameBlast and the biggest one for me in terms of team-size: bloggers and friends kindly joined me to form a 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 during 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 another had to jump in!

GameBlast17

In 2017 came the biggest GameBlast in terms of length, a 72-hour marathon with the help of Kevin from The Lawful Geek and Nathan from Hurricane thought process. Challenges made a comeback for this year and it was great seeing Kevin play Octodad expertly with 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 and found that this really messed with my sleeping patterns so I felt like a bit of a zombie.

GameBlast18

We toned things down for GameBlast18 with a shorter 24-hour marathon but this time, Ben and Nathan spent the weekend with Pete and I at our house. This led to one of my favourite GameBlast moments during a game of That’s You! in the early hours of the morning where we were all a bit hysterical with 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 great having the team in the same room and this was definitely the year with the best vibe.

GameBlast19

We stuck to 24-hours for GameBlast19 and thought it was going to be a much a smaller affair as only Pete and I were taking part this year. But on the day, Tim and Jake from Timlah’s Texts & Unity3D Tech decided to complete an impromptu marathon themselves and played The Elder Scrolls Online for the entire period! We quickly set up a new scene in OBS which meant we could drop in on them to see how they were doing while were streaming ourselves, and being able to cheer each other on in this way helped us all reach the end.

GameBlast20

For GameBlast20 this year, I came up with a new idea that was completely awesome or stupid depending on how you looked at it: 50-days of gaming. Pete thought I was crazy when I said we’d be playing video games for at least an hour every day during this period, and then told me I’d completely lost it when I mentioned rounding the whole thing off with a 24-hour marathon. Looking back on it now, it’s hard to believe that we actually managed to do it; but how on earth are we going to top this for future GameBlast events?



I’m due to start the planning for GameBlast21 next month but Pete and I are struggling to come up with a format for our next marathon. Do we stick to 24-hours, try another 50 days because it was such an achievement, or attempt something completely new? Do we do it as part of a team or just the two of us? We’d love to hear your ideas.