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SpecialEffect News

13 May 2020

Gaming for Others nail their (not) marathon

Every Easter, the amazing group of friends that is Gaming for Others hold an epic four-day gaming marathon to raise funds to support our work. They unite in one house to play and dance their way through a non-stop riot of entertainment that’s so far raised many thousands for us in its nine-year history.

This year, due to COVID-19 lockdown, their meetup wasn’t possible, but they still pulled together an fantastic virtual gaming (not) marathon full of fun, laughs and high energy! We caught up with Kate, Ben, Ant, Pete, and Darren to see how they switched their marathon from communal to virtual.

“We usually play a load of video games with one or two people playing at a time. With all of us being separated (and only having one PC with a capture card between us) it would have meant we'd have had to reduce the pool of games to pick from as they'd need to played on the PC.”

The team had to reduce their streaming time as well as their usual gaming shift arrangements weren't possible, so instead of running non-stop for four days, they streamed for five hours per night and rang the changes with their gameplay. They started each day with an hour of Animal Crossing New Horizons, then three hours of a different one-shot RPG on Friday to Sunday, and a quiz on Monday.

"We rounded off each night with an hour of Just Dance because this is by far the most popular part of our normal marathon, so we decided we needed to do our best to get it in!”

The change to a virtual meetup also meant a change to their usual technical set-up, but it all went relatively smoothly:

“We were expecting the tech to be the biggest hurdle to overcome but actually once we all sat down and tried it, most things just worked, which was pretty impressive! Zoom ended up working really well for us. As usual we used OBS for the overlay and Kate wrote some custom code to get the donation amount and the latest donors from JustGiving. We've used Maelstream for our overlays in the past, but we did everything manually this time as we had a lot more scenes to manage.

Their biggest technical challenge was trying to run Just Dance with minimal lag. They ended up having to use a VirtualCam input plugin for Zoom to get OBS (and therefore the game), then moving their mic next to the TV.

Despite the lockdown, the weekend was a roaring success. “We'd just like to say a massive thanks to everyone who joined us via chat and donated over the weekend. We definitely didn't expect to raise as much as we did, especially with the reduced streaming time, but we still managed to surpass our goal of £1,500. We also want to thank Mark for joining us on stream, chatting to us about the work SpecialEffect do, and surviving an hour of live streamed Just Dance with us!”

Below: These guys.

Screenshot of the team celebrating

And their favourite moments?

"Mine is definitely the chaos of Last Christmas, the final RPG we played," said Kate. "We were supposed to be roleplaying A Christmas Carol, but this descended very quickly into total ridiculousness and ended with us rebranding Easter as Eggbenezer Day, which of course our viewers immediately got behind."

Ant recalled the RPG as well: "There are always great memories and in-jokes we take away from all marathons and this was no exception. The role playing was great and allowed for a lot of organic jokes. Having to quickly improvise my way through situations was the funniest."

Darren's was relieved that the quiz was well received. "A lot of effort went into it and it was very silly so it could have gone either way. In fact, the sillier it was, the more people embraced it!"

"What stuck with me," said Pete, "Is the way viewers got involved with the stream. Seeing people sending in clips of themselves dancing along was pretty incredible."

Ben agreed. "Seeing the audience participation and support was amazing. And my best memory would have to be the Last Christmas RPG as well. That 'phone conversation' between Ant and Darren after Ant kept killing Scrooge was comedy gold!"

It's a marathon that never fails to entertain, so huge thanks again from all the team here to this truly wonderful group of gamers!


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