Part 1: Set up
I decided to do this Extra Life event bigger and better than before. This took some organisational work as it involved bringing together some serious kit. We all have our gaming set ups with our preferred tv or monitor connected to a console but for Extra Life I wanted to go one better and turn the living room into gaming heaven. This meant I needed two things, more consoles and more screens. The second Playstation 3 from the bedroom was drafted into action downstairs along with the 42 inch plasma screen to sit alongside the usual Playstation 3 slim that sits under the living rooms 51 inch plasma screen. This was easier than it sounded as I forgot just how big a monster the 42 inch was. Taking it off the wall and hauling it downstairs was almost an endurance event on its own due to the impressive weight. Extra Life beckoned so nothing was to stop this plan of action and so down it came. So that was 2 consoles and 2 screens, still not enough for gaming heaven. I enlisted the services of my nephew and his mate to join in the gaming marathon and in doing so they brought with them 2 Xbox 360’s as well as two more screens. This was more like it, 4 consoles and 4 screens. Along with this the usual mobile assortment of Playstation Vita, PSP, Android tablet and IOS devices layed strewn around the room for those inevitable times when updates or loading screens would interrupt the gaming goodness. The only things left to put into place now were a fridge half filled with beer and the other half filled with caffeine rich energy drinks to help us power through till the small hours.
Part 2: The First Few Hours
The first few hours of each Extra Life event I like to get into a couple of games that ive had sitting around for a while and have been neglecting for a while. This time around I decided to start the day off with some Just Cause 2. This game has been sitting around waiting for me to get a chance to play it for ages and now was the time. It didn’t take me long to really enjoy it and I can see the grappling hook being a toy I will get many many hours of enjoyment out of in the coming weeks. I had no intention of playing Just Cause 2 for too long as ive heard from other gamers that you could get sucked into that game and completely lose track of time. In total I must have played it for about an hour and a half before moving on to some Transformers Fall Of Cybertron multiplayer. I played this a fair bit when it first came out but it fell away into the depths of my back catalogue soon after which was a shame so it was dug out again for some online action and a few runs at the escalation game mode. After that it was on to a few other back catalogue titles none of which were stand out interests but it was nice to get some time with games that otherwise get forgotten. Feeling fine and wide awake meant there was no need to start hitting the energy drinks early so the 24 hour gaming marathon for me started off pretty strong.
Part 3: Getting Into The Swing Of it
After a few hours 3 more gamers arrived (late) to join in the activities. Dan, Connor and Paul are all mainly Xbox gamers but it didnt stop them reaching for the Playstation as soon as they arrived. Need for Speed Carbon was their first choice in-game which apparently was an old favorite of Dan’s. Tyre screeching and bashing each other from start to finish was the order of the day as the healthy competition began. This then followed on to Need For Speed Pro Street and then when the driving games started to dwindle Fifa 13 on the Xbox was pulled out for some very competitive action. On many an occasion a joypad was almost launched across the room as two completely different play styles met on the pitch to do battle. While Dan and Connor battled it out on the pitch, Paul dived into Grand Theft Auto 4 for some car jacking fun while I made final preparations for the upcoming Gran Turismo 5 Charity Challenge, ahh the benefits of multiple screens in one room. Nerd heaven was kicking in big time. After a while more games rose from the depths of the collection such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD Collection and a few others. A few energy drinks intermixed with the start of the beer consumption happened now as well as we all settled ourselves in for the long haul. Extra Life 24 hour gaming was now really hitting its stride.
Part 4: In Full Flow
With the hours passing by and the games and chat flowing well Extra Life was going well. Burnout Paradise was next up for a classic gaming experience. Burnout Paradise was and still is an amazing game which we all really enjoyed playing but the fun really can when we went through some of the DLC such as the toy cars and bikes. Theres nothing like blasting around a city on a tiny motor bike and jumping a tiny car over a huge gap.
While the other 3 carried on playing other games it was time for me to get settled down and get ready for the Gran Turismo Charity Challenge. I was still undecided as to which car I was going to use. I had two choices that I had prepared, A BMW M3 CSL and a Lexus LFA and I couldn’t decide which to use. As the drivers from each website arrived and got a few practice laps in I saw that a couple of other drivers had gone with the Lexus LFA so I decided that I wanted to be a bit different and went with the BMW. The event was delayed somewhat by the late arrival of on of the drivers from the Big Red Barrel website team. Frawlz had a few ‘installation’ issues to contend with and there was a big worry that we would have to start the race without him. Luckily on of the gamers with me stood up and volunteered to take his place so that the event could go ahead with full teams. Paul Conroy Set himself down ready to race and while we quickly prepared a car for him everyone got ready to race. Just as Paul was entering the online lobby a certain mr Frawlz arrived to take his own place. We all decided to let Paul race as a wild card driver. Full details on the Gran Turismo Charity Challenge will be in a separate article on the website, needless to say it was a great race.
All 4 of us were now deep into our marathon. The beer and energy drinks had now been followed by the food of gamers, takeaway pizza to help keep us all going. The gamers heaven was beginning to show signs of heavy use as the empty cans and takeaway boxes started to pile up.
Part 5: Pushing On
Past the midnight mark now and the hours are starting to go by slower. The beer is kicking in slowly and the energy drinks are in full use now. Now was the time to liven ourselves up and this called for the Playstation Move to come out. Paul took the lead and chose to play ‘The Fight’. Swinging and punching his way through the air was funny enough but in low light the move controllers glowed brightly and looked impressive as they were swung from side to side. A belly full of beer, redbull and pizza however doesn’t take kindly to being thrown from side to side violently in a simulated fight and so this game didn’t stay on for too long before we decided that we had had enough exercise for the night and it was now time to revert back to the normal joypads.
From here we went on to getting back online for some gaming with the rest of the JoypadAndMe team. For me it would be my first venture into the online portion of Red Dead Redemption. I had no idea what to expect and was happy to find that it was good fun. Well it was good fun although I did find that I was getting killed far too often by Wellbeingosteo and his damn throwing knives but hey ho that’s what I get for not having any experience with the game at all. We played a few rounds of goldrush which were great fun, plenty of sneaking around and last min shots fired with impressive accuracy. I found I was much better with a pistol than a rifle but I still found myself face down in the dirt more than once. It was John ‘Darth Nutclench’s’ turn to take the honours by winning every round. I also found it a little disturbing but quite funny that I ended up riding around on a donkey rather than a proud steed, just proves that I need to play more Red Dead Redemption.
Part 6: The Long Hall
Now we were into the small hours of Sunday morning. 4AM and our bodies were a mix of tiredness and hyped up energy from the energy drinks, we didn’t know from one min to the next if we were close to passing out or about to bounce around the room. For some strange reason this was the time we all felt would be a great time to pull out something from the horror game collection to scare the crap out of ourselves. This was defiantly the sleep deprived state talking as it then became a great idea to turn off all the lights and turn up the volume on the tv so that when something jumps out at us we would really freak out. As two of our gamers had seen too many clips of Dead Space 2 we decided to settle on Aliens vs Predator and play though as the colonial Marines from the start. Instead of the usual charging around the levels shooting anything that comes close, we descended into a slow, carefull, check every shadow and crawlway type of gameplay. Shadows and eerie sounds were making it feel really intimidating when moving from room to room and corridor to corridor. With the sound turned up it really felt like something was crawling behind you and not having slept for 20 plus hours increases that feeling 10 fold. When the inevitable alien dived from the ceiling and attacked poor Dan, he jumped so hard and instinctively hit the pause button! He went back to it and battled through but ive never seen someone jump so often at random sounds before. It was great to see an older game have that ‘new game’ feeling and get a reaction that it deserved. By the end of his play through Dan had toughened up and had taken to punching the oncoming aliens in the face before blasting their heads off with his trusty shotgun. The face huggers were another matter and he wildly fired at them to get rid of them and I will never forget his panicked look at an oncoming chest burster. This truly had to be one of the highlights of the 24 hour gaming marathon.
Part 7: The Final Push
The final few hours this time around didn’t feel quite as bad as in previous years. Maybe im getting used to gaming for 24 hours straight or maybe it was just the large amount of energy drinks flowing through my system. Either way I was still going fairly strong. Delving deep into the gaming collection Dan found an old favorite that he insisted be put on so in his words “he could give us all an ass whooping”. The game in question was Madden 11. Now although I own the game I cannot for one moment begin to say that I am any good at it. A collection of lucky breaks and button mashing usually gets me through most matches but I openly admit this is more down to luck that I win any games. Dan on the other hand seemed to know routes and passing techniques, call choices and tactics. An Ass whooping seemed inevitable but hey ho it’s all fun. I went with my old team the Denver Broncos while he took the Texans for some reason. The match started with my fairly predictable 4 and out drive. His next drive gave him 7 points and then a few mins later that was raised to 14. But, somehow, the gaming gods must have looked favorably on me as I began to make running plays and players actually began to catch the ball that previously had felt like it had been covered in grease as that could have been the only explanation as to why I had been dropping easy catches. I managed to tie the game by the half way mark and even took the lead at one point but with a min to go I was back down to loosing. In the last min I managed to bring it back up to 21-21 with 36 seconds to go. I had the ball, A lucky long pass gave me field position and with the clock winding down into the small numbers I lined up a field goal and struck it with a second to spare. GOAL. 24-21, an ass whooping had been averted and even a surprise turn around that gave me the win. Dan was not happy. To console himself he took on Conner in a second match and to be fair an ass whooping was handed out there with a final score line of 54-36. His dignity restored Dan relaxed into his chair as the clock ticked over to 8am, the end of the Extra Life marathon……….or so it should have been.
For some inexplicable reason as we were finishing I made some funny little comment of every gaming marathon should be ended with a quick go of the only game a half asleep gamer can play, Peggle. Neither had heard of it before and when I explained what it was they both laughed and said that it sounded like the most boring game ever. 5 mins later Dan was hooked and Conner was laughing his ass off at the deep concentration that was taking place to try to hit the peggles. This lasted for an hour! 24 hours of gaming and we end up taking it to overtime and hitting the 25 hour mark! In the end I guess a gamer cant help but play a good game.
Part 8: The Aftermath
Ahh yes, the end of an event such as this does come with a few drawbacks. The lack of sleep and the mild delirium from the energy drinks aside there is one issue that cant help but need dealing with. The clean up operation. It was at this point that I somehow found myself alone in the house after the others disappeared to their own places to sleep. Cheeky sods. Yes in 24 hours it is surprising what a group of gamers can amass in 1 room. Beer cans, pizza boxes, energy drink cans, empty game boxes and multiple disks and wires lying around. The clean up operation commenced while semi watching some Big Bang Theory. 2 bin bags of boxes and cans later and most of the destruction had been sorted. All that left was to collect all the gaming paraphernalia together and put it back where it normally resides untill next time.
Extra Life 2012 had been a great success in the house. All the participants had great fun playing games both old and new. Competitive and co-operative fun was had as well as re discovering some hidden gems. The house had truly become gaming heaven for 1 day and now had returned to sanity. All this and to top it all off and actually bring home the real reason for doing this, as I checked my twitter feed one last time I saw that the Extra Life charity event had raised over 1.8 million for the Children’s Charity Network!
1.8 MILLION and counting.
Well done to all who took part and a special thanks to every single person that donated what they could.
You have truly made a difference.