We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our incredible community of streamers, and as part of our Stream Team Spotlighted Streamer interviews , we recently talked to all seven members of The WeirdBlasters!
The WeirdBlasters are seven gaming enthusiasts across five streaming channels. The team gradually built up over the last five years, and in 2022, all seven members got involved with GameBlast22, raising over £5,000. In 2023, they decided to get the band back together for GameBlast23 and managed to repeat the feat!
Hello WeirdBlasters, thank you so much for your incredible support during #GameBlast23! Please, introduce yourself to the folks at home.
LauraPetal: Hey there! I’m LauraPetal, very often just called Laura, and I do stream various games on my chilled and laid-back Twitch channel alongside my full-time job as a language tutor in the Japanese public education system – so yes, I am a gaikoku-jin! I’ve also been out and proud online as a wonderful trans girl since December 2021!
Ebak_The_Cat: I’m Elliot, although I go by the online handle Ebak_The_Cat. I tend to play a wide selection of games from retro games from yesteryear to modern games and beyond, which I stream on Twitch. I do four types of streams: playthroughs, showcases, the Saturday Night Silly Voices show, and a monthly podcast called the Comment Dense Podcast!
Weird: I’m Lewis, otherwise known as Weird from WeirdFTW. I stream full playthroughs of all-sorts of games on PC and Nintendo consoles, but I’ve a fondness for platformers, roguelikes and most anything that can brew chaos for a good show! I’ve also been doing massive series marathons of Sonic the Hedgehog and The Legend of Zelda titles because of GameBlast promises, and I love hosting multiplayer shenanigans with friends on Friday nights. I otherwise enjoy playing tabletop games, raising a tankard and it’s safe to say I’m seen as the loudest one out of our collective – I do enjoy a good yell.
Scarfulhu: I’m Connor, also known as Scarfulhu. I’m probably more well known as a YouTube content creator, specialising in reviews of point ‘n’ click adventure games and other retro PC games! I also get ‘Hey, weren’t you in that one Caddicarus video?’ a lot. Yep, that was me, and it was actually two videos! I also stream on the side when I have time, as it’s something I quite enjoy casually.
BuddyGames: Our names are Nico, Liam, and Rosie, and together we form BuddyGames! We stream local co-op games as well as any fun or interesting games on platforms ranging from PlayStation 1 all the way to PlayStation 5 on Twitch. Together, we try to create a wonderful, inclusive, and positive community through our feel-good streams and engaging content on our social media platforms.
Wow, good to meet you all properly! Tell us, how did you get started in content creation?
LauraPetal: I began creating rather shoddy videos in my second year of university, and since moving from the UK to Japan about six years ago, I’ve decided to focus on livestreaming and have had a regular schedule for about three years. The WeirdBlasters gradually got more acquainted online, regularly organising game sessions between us until we all ended up taking part in GameBlast.
Ebak_The_Cat: Officially, I’ve been creating content on Twitch for about 3 years. Unofficially, I’ve always had an interest in recording gameplay. About 16 years ago, back when I had a PS2, I remember using some early capture technology to record a full playthrough of Soul Reaver 2 and Metal Gear Solid 2 that I still have on a DVD somewhere… maybe eventually they’ll see the light of day. I started streaming because of Weird and he was also the one who proposed I take part in GameBlast21, and I’ve been part of the team ever since.
Weird: I was making videos very infrequently on YouTube as early as 2011 – things like vlogs of London gatherings and my earliest video gaming content. The moment I gave regular Twitch a go in 2017, I never looked back – and I’ve been consistently streaming for five and a half years so far.
Scarfulhu: I’ve always made little videos, whether I uploaded them or not, for a good chunk of my life. Even when I was young, I was making let’s plays and animations and all sorts of random nonsense. It wasn’t until I began making more involved videos that people started to take notice and I’m forever grateful for that. As a group, the WeirdBlasters formed almost inevitably over time. Laura, then Lewis, and then myself and Elliot wanted in, and the Buddies boosted us even further! It just made sense to collate our efforts and work together!
BuddyGames: BuddyGames started out in 2015 as a Let’s Play channel on Youtube, starring Rosie and Liam. We wanted to replicate the experience of heading to your friends house after school or work, and just playing games together, either through co-op, or just taking turns. During this time, streaming was taking making a bigger mark on the internet, and in 2021 we made the jump to Twitch streaming, and ever since we’ve been streaming twice a week consistently! During GameBlast21, Nico watched Weird playing Pokemon Snap, and was inspired by his enthusiasm with streaming for charity. Since Weird and Nico were already friends, he suggested the idea of joining the WeirdBlasters team to raise money for SpecialEffect together. BuddyGames has now been a part of the WeirdBlasters team for two years!
So, between you, you’ve got literal decades of experience! What is some of your favourite content to make online?
LauraPetal: When it comes to my streams, I’ve felt most comfortable simply just being myself while I play games, warmly inviting people to watch my experiences and making my corner of Twitch as chill, friendly and comfortable as possible. Every so often, if a game playthrough leaves me wanting to talk about it more, I will make a long-form video essay detailing my experiences and thoughts. I’m also known to be very musically inclined, with my studies in sound and music for games, and the urge to open an audio workstation and create music creeps in now and then – the dream is to compose a music track or two and have them be part of a retail game some day!
Ebak_The_Cat: Nothing is more fun to me than sharing experiences. This can be something new and amazing like the Outer Wilds, or showcasing a game that people may have overlooked based on wrong initial impressions, such as Hitman appealing to viewers who liked puzzle games. That being said, I’m most proud of my Silly Voices streams which can be characterised as: a bunch of friends giving characters silly voices while riffing on the absurdity of the Ace Attorney games and the many trials and tribulations (pun intended) that the characters in that series go through.
Weird: Despite being committed to running series marathon playthroughs as a result of GameBlast promises, and those keeping me fairly well occupied, I try to keep a lively mix of games on the channel, when possible, especially on Fridays. From calmly losing myself in another new experience, doing yet another roguelike run, or becoming fully unhinged with friends in the silliest of multiplayer sessions – there’s good times to be had in so many ways. Except horror games – I’ll give those a pass.
Scarfulhu: I enjoy talking about classic point ‘n’ click adventures and retro first person shooters on my YouTube channel, that’s my bread and butter. In fact, one of my most popular series, a deep dive into the Monkey Island games, was born out of GameBlast20! I promised to start it if a specific fundraising tier was reached, and as always, we smashed it. GameBlast is such a great opportunity, not just for the wonderful cause of SpecialEffect, but also because it pushes us all creatively to make things and try new ideas we might not have had the drive to attempt before.
Nico: For me, it’s inclusive and creative streams that invite the audience participate, so that the stream becomes engaging and relatable to watch.
Liam: For me, it’s creating challenges. I like using the in-game engine and mechanics to come up with thrilling and tense challenges, such as racing across the games map.
Rosie: I just love creating content which I hope will entertain others! Be it through having a laugh, passionately talking about something I love which others may relate to, or providing a show which is so exciting, no one can turn away.
So much variety! What are some of your favourite games?
LauraPetal: Sonic will always be close to my heart, being the very first character I met when I first picked up a MegaDrive controller when I was about four years old, though my all-time favourite game is Shadow Of The Colossus. Recently, I’ve found so many great games and experiences from small teams and minority groups, and I’ve worked to champion and sing their praises, to recognise the hard work done by these wonderful people. A few of my favourites in the last couple of years are Celeste (have to rep it for my trans community!), Outer Wilds and Tunic. I’m also a mean kart racer – not to brag but you’ll often find me leading the pack among my friends in most kart racing games… and therefore receiving the most blue shells!
Ebak_The_Cat: Batman: Arkham Knight is what I consider my ‘comfort game’. I tend to enjoy sneaky stealth games a lot, however, I would be remiss if I did not mention The Outer Wilds, as it’s been name-dropped multiple times in this one interview! The narrative and emotional journey that game took me on was so intense. I usually stream three days a week, but when I started playing Outer Wilds, I streamed every single day that week. I couldn’t put it down. I’ve never experienced anything like it again. Go play it if you haven’t, or better yet, stream yourself playing it!
Weird: Through the years I’ve been streaming, Hades has become one of my all-time favourite games. No run ever gets boring for me, and I’ve even had the chance to introduce a lot of my friends to the game as well. I’ve even been a guide in their very first streams of it! And, of course I have my eye on Hades 2, and I am SO EXCITED.
Like Ebak, Outer Wilds was something special to me. I hadn’t found such simultaneous satisfaction in fully exploring that game’s universe, quite literally with some of the most fun I’ve had travelling in space, and disappointment in knowing I can’t experience that game for the first time again. That game blew my mind and oddly I can’t even tell you why if you haven’t tried it yourself.
Scarfulhu: I am a storyteller at heart – I adore games that allow narrative to flourish. That’s why the point ‘n’ click genre appeals to me so much. I’ve already mentioned the Monkey Island series, that holds a special place in my heart, and I’m so happy that we got a new instalment recently. The Gabriel Knight games are a big favourite for me as well though – they’re these supernatural detective mysteries that incorporate the learning of real-world history and culture into the story beautifully. Totally fascinated by that.
Nico: For me, it’s going to be YAKUZA 0, Ape Escape and Crash Bandicoot. I’ve had so much fun playing those games throughout the years.
Liam: At the moment it’s Cyberpunk 2077, I’m a MASSIVE fan of open world RPG’s. I love the sense of adventure and exploration, finding treasure and searching every square inch of the beautiful world laid out in front of me.
Rosie: SO MANY GAMES! But a few of my favourites are Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Ape Escape 3, Bloodborne, Parappa The Rapper, Cuphead, Tomb Raider, Spyro: Year of the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot Warped. All these games have blown me away throughout the years, and I’ll never forget them.
Above: The group produced some seriously fine graphics for their GameBlasting
From retro to modern day AAA, we love this list! Tell us, how did you all hear about SpecialEffect, and why did you choose to fundraise for us?
LauraPetal: It was all happenstance, really. I saw a post on social media about either GameBlast or the charity itself, and it caught my eye. When I found out about SpecialEffect’s mission statement, the charity immediately became one that I would always be up for supporting when asked to. At the time I was doing it solo, but that didn’t matter much to me as I understood that every tiny pledge to support the charity, or whatever signal boosting that came from my efforts, would be absolutely appreciated by the SpecialEffect team. It was after I had my first solo effort in GameBlast19 that other eventual members of the WeirdBlasters decided to hold their own fundraising efforts; and later on we came together as the WeirdBlasters officially, to use the power that teamwork gives to our advantage and we haven’t looked back since.
Ebak_The_Cat: I heard about SpecialEffect through Weird. I always have time for charity, especially one pertaining to disabilities, because I am disabled; I am completely deaf in my left ear. I am very fortunate. Gaming is my hobby, and even half deaf I can still indulge in my hobby, but there are others who are not so fortunate. People may look down on gaming and say ‘oh, it’s just a hobby’ but hobbies are important. It’s the little things that make life what it is, so if I can help someone indulge in the same hobby as me, I will do what I can to help.
Weird: When I saw what streamers were coming together for back in 2019 – SpecialEffect enabling disabled gamers to game through specialised peripherals – being able to hop in on a single experience wasn’t enough for me. My whole life has revolved around gaming, and it likely will for the rest of it! I can’t imagine how things would’ve turned out for me without being able to experience these worlds that people create in video games, worlds that bring whole communities together. It was only right that I joined the effort to make these worlds as accessible for everyone as they should be – SpecialEffect have the know-how and the technology, it’s only right we help put it all into action.
It wasn’t until I saw both Daggers McTimbers in her Sea of Thieves stream on Mixer and LauraPetal on Twitch taking part in GameBlast19, that I decided to head up my own fundraising effort the following year for GameBlast20. With Laura and I separately fundraising and Ebak and Scarfulhu supporting, it made sense to us to join forces for GameBlast21. Thus, our group was first formed, with BuddyGames joining us one year later!
Scarfulhu: I remember first hearing about SpecialEffect through Team Fortress 2 actually! There was a cross-promotional cosmetic item you could get back in 2013, so the charity has been on my radar for a good decade now. It wasn’t until I saw my good friend Weird doing some fundraising in 2020 that I thought about joining in myself. Our group has always been about spreading the word of gaming and getting as many people involved as possible. That’s why our team has only gotten bigger and better, and also why people who spend time with us soon become streamers themselves. A charity that specialises in levelling the playing field for disabled gamers just feels natural to us, I think.
BuddyGames: Nico was the first member of BuddyGames to learn about SpecialEffect, when visiting EGX 2016. All of the Buddies then started to learn more about this wonderful charity through other friends (Such as Matt Roff and Weord) who had been working with the charity. After learning about SpecialEffect, we were all very keen to see if we could do something to help raise money so everyone can play games. And joining the WeirdBlasters was a wonderful opportunity to do so.
Above: The WeirdBlasters raised over £5000 for Gameblast23
Thank you for sharing, it’s so cool to hear you heard about us in different ways. Really does go show just how important awareness is!
LauraPetal: Group events typically require much more planning than a solo event, so giving yourselves lots of time in advance to create a schedule, and contingency plans if things don’t go smoothly, is a must. We typically get together with around a months’ notice to settle on a final plan, which we can then start posting and talking about in the build-up to the event. Advertising your fundraising effort is never a bad thing to do! Say it loud and proud to lots of people – your regular friends or community members will likely be glad to help spread the word, plus you could reach new people who are also willing to help you out!
Ebak_The_Cat: Surround yourself with talented people! Laura talked about the planning, for running an event; so, I’d like to mention support systems. If you run as a team of people, then support each other’s streams. Act as a mod for them and hype-person in their chat, get people talking about the charity and spreading the word, and at the end, raid into another charity streamer, preferably someone else in your group who recently started their stream. For example, if someone started watching Laura at 9:30AM and stayed for the entire duration, they’d end up on my channel at 11:30PM, having been part of multiple raids throughout the event into each other’s channels.
Weird: Consider your audience and what they would love to see when putting together a charity stream. Consider offering something a little out-of-character that you would still be willing to do. For instance, you can offer donation incentives that have immediate effects like changing characters in a game or having a terrible treat to eat, or you could offer target rewards that your audience just couldn’t possibly miss and would love to make happen. I don’t mess with horror games typically, but many have expressed interest in seeing me do such streams. If it means you’ll donate… sure, go on then.
Most importantly, don’t forget that through all the arranging, all of the advertising, all of the extra effort you can go through to add to your fundraising effort, whatever you do, make sure to have fun! Work with people who you know you can have that fun with, and keep your spirits high – early momentum in fundraisers can be a tricky first hurdle, but the moment it starts, you’ll be rolling.
Scarfulhu: Having exciting rewards is essential, I think. You’ve got to make people want to see what you have in store. For rewards, you can say ‘if we reach X goal, I’ll do a Y stream’ or something to that effect. Maybe even something totally unusual but a ‘must-have’ for your viewers! The days of the fundraising weekend are essential as well – pay attention to what pulls people in and come up with something special for those days. For group fundraising, it’s also vital to promote and cross-pollinate your audiences. Make sure to raid each other, hang around in each other’s chats when you’re not live yourself, plug the donation link (tactfully, of course!), and even mention how close you are to each milestone.
BuddyGames: Brief your guests if they are not aware of the event so they know their communication points, plan as much as possible in advance, try to create streams that incentivise your audience to donate, and most importantly, have fun with it!
Fantastic advice for any up-and-coming charity streamer! Before we sign-off for today, do you have any last comments for our readers?
LauraPetal: It means the world to be volunteering our time to help a cause so worthy of support and love. It’s a highlight and a privilege to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to every future opportunity to help spread gaming fun for everyone! Stay you and stay awesome! <3
Ebak_The_Cat: Don’t be intimidated about doing a charity stream, even if you are on your own, have no overlay, or are just starting streaming. We all start somewhere. Have faith in yourself. You can do it; we all believe in you. A big thank you to SpecialEffect, my fellow team members, and you the reader!
Weird: There are more than enough people already fundraising who would be more than happy to help make your fundraiser all the more amazing, including but not limited to the SpecialEffect Discord server. All you need to do is ask. However you decide to go about fundraising, whether it’s by way of gaming or any other activity, have a blast while you do it! Many thanks to SpecialEffect for all that you do – the WeirdBlasters already cannot wait for GameBlast24!
Scarfulhu: GameBlast is always one of the highlights of my year. It gives me an excuse to spend time with this wonderful chaos crew, and to do so for a worthy cause. I’m thrilled to have had this opportunity each year and I always look forward to it. And don’t you worry, we aren’t done yet! We’ll be back for more before you know it.
BuddyGames: Thank you SpecialEffect for all the hard work you and the team put in during GameBlast, and all year round! It was an honour to be part of the fundraising, and we look forward to supporting you again!
Thank you everyone! Where can we find your channels?