JoypadAndMe has been supporters of the ExtraLife charity event since our beginnings and even before that as separate gamers. Last year I held a gathering of friends to play for 24 hours along with one of our other staff: Lazy Gamer. You can read about last years antics right here.
This year we wanted to go beyond what we had done in the past and put on a bigger event for the public to take part in. This was going to take some planning but in the end it would be well worth it for everyone involved especially the Children’s Miracle Network charity that ExtraLife supports.
Ideas formed in my head pretty quickly about the kind of event I wanted to put on. A selection of consoles and games from all generations that people could come and play whilst donating to the charity. Easy. well, actually it would take some serious planning if it wasn’t for the amazing luck I was to have. Not long before the ideas for the event came to mind I had heard of a gaming café in Liverpool and decided to head down there and have a chat to the owners. Adam Lewis and Jaymes Hatch. These guys need an award for how helpful they were. In actual fact whilst planning the event they did in fact win a business award so well done to them. Anyway, after chatting to them and explaining about the charity and what I had in mind, they jumped on board with both sets of feet. They offered their premises to host the event as well as their large collection of games and consoles. So that was the location sorted and on top of that we had now recruited our first partners in the charity event. JoypadAndMe along with A&J’s gaming café.
After chatting with some of the JoypadAndMe team about what I was planning up in Liverpool some ideas were bounced about concerning the possibility of holding a raffle with some prizes we could try to get donated from different companies which would help to raise more money. Connor (VDJomb) also decided that he wanted in on this project and made the call to come up and help host the event which proved to be invaluable. Dan (Lazy Gamer) also signed up to help run the event so now we had a team of 3 from JoypadAndMe and two from A&J’s.
In the weeks leading up to ExtraLife everyone worked hard to organise the event, plan competitions and challenges as well as contact companies and publishers hounding them for donations to the charity or prizes for the raffle. Connor’s email account must have been working overtime with the amount of emails going backwards and forwards. A&J passed on some interesting contacts of people who may be interested in helping out and one of these proved to be Craig from Replay Events. We met Craig at the Play Expo event in Manchester and got a short time to speak to him about it all as he was extremely busy putting on such a great event. A couple more phone calls back and forth with him led to both Craig offering to spend some time with us helping to run some of the competitions as well as Replay Events helping to support the event itself with prizes for some of the competitions including tickets to their upcoming event in Blackpool in May. This event was growing fast now with three groups now involved, JoypadAndMe, A&J’s and now Replay Events.
The week leading up to the gaming marathon was a fairly hectic one on my part with baby scans, illnesses and a potentially disastrous cock-up involving a work rota that had me supposedly working during the event! That was quickly sorted out and all last-minute plans were put into place securing all the games we needed to run the event as well as the host of cables and controllers needed. Adam and Jaymes managed to get on the local radio and promote the event which was amazing. We also had some great news and help from Holly Cooper (Ubisoft) and Gav Bonshnor (Play3r.net) who both offered prizes for our growing raffle and our newly added silent auction. Both of these people supplied a host of fantastic prizes that proved to be very popular on the night. Sony even came through and sent over a great prize to be added to the pile in the form of a God Of War 3 chest. So, all plans in place, all promotion done and no more time left. Time for the charity event!
The Day Itself
The 2nd November came round faster that we could have thought and it was time to start. Danny and myself pulled up at 9:30am with our consoles and screens and everything else we needed to be greeted by people actually queuing up to start! There was a queue to get in to play games for 24 hours! Once in we set up our screens quick and got down to the marathon gaming event. People kept turning up more and more. At one point we had between 40 – 50 people in the building all there for the same reasons, Gaming and charity.
Matt Crosby had himself set up at one end of the room and got stuck into his own challenge, a race to prestige on Call of Duty. 24 hours of playing Call of Duty is a tough challenge but he went for it all whilst live streaming his feed. In the end he managed to get to level 44. There were some issues with lag and surprisingly a few issues finding matches at one point so 44 is a strong showing.
The consoles were all loaded up with games from different generations. One had donkey kong while another had Starfox and another had Zelda. The PS3’s were running Assassins Creed and Gran Turismo while the X Box’s were playing Grand Theft Auto 5 and Halo. Everyone that came in were checking out the raffle and silent auction table and then getting down to some gaming. Everybody was chatting and enjoying the atmosphere that was developing. I managed to get a chance to chat to Gavin from Play3r.net about their site and some of the things they do as well as thanked them for their fantastic donation of some DreamBass Genie usb devices and an SP1 amp. These prizes proved to be very popular with tickets being bought all over the place. In fact we managed to sell over 400 raffle tickets in a matter of hours.
Craig arrived bright and early and set about the Halo tournament with a full roster of gamers signing up. Replay Events supplied a limited edition collectors Halo 4 game along with soundtracks and tickets to the Replay Event’s Play Blackpool in May. The tournament lasted into the afternoon with some hard-fought battles but in the end there could only be one winner. As the Halo tournament was coming to a close, the Assassins Creed 4 tournament started up. This was a WolfPack high score competition run by Connor and prizes supplied by Holly Cooper and Ubisoft. Some people had not seen the WolfPack side of the Assassins Creed games before so our resident master assassin, Connor, gave people a tutorial in the fundamentals and some more advanced techniques. Some people however were already masters of the game mode and proved to be formidable. Brandon Lang put on a masterclass of a run through and won the event by a clear 5000 points.
As the event went on, more and more games were played. Everything from Donkey Kong through Mario, Zelda, Doom to Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. I personally tried my luck in both the Micro Machines tournament and the Mario Kart 64 tournament and unfortunately I didn’t win either. In Micro Machines I wasted for a few laps but was then booted off the screen by a superior player. I fared better in Mario Kart but only slightly. We went through every track one after the other. I won the first track and then for the rest of the event bar one track I came third every time. Some were closer than others but the result ended up the same. The last track however I did win and im holding that as my best. A win on Rainbow Road with such stiff competition counts for something surely.
Connor was back to showing off his assassination skills again. After the Assassins Creed tournament had finished he took it upon himself to give another master class on the best techniques in Hitman Sniper Challenge. Connor is someone to watch out for as his skills in the art of elimination are very good indeed! As Connor was doing this we held the raffle and many people walked away with some amazing prizes. It felt like a great time to be there with everyone’s spirits high and the excitement for the event as a whole at its best. I want to congratulate everyone that won prizes and more importantly thank everyone for donating to the charity.
The event went on throughout the night and there was so much going on it would be impossible to mention everything. What I can comment on is the impressive display of both community spirit and friendliness that was on display. Gamers and video games in general get a bad lot in the press especially of late. Gamers are perceived as these secluded hideaway that have a certain disregard for anything else or worse still, that they are the cause for some atrocities. If anyone could have seen the group we had on the day than those assumptions would have been instantly dismantled. All of the gamers were there sharing experiences and fun times together and all for a great cause. There was no malice or seclusion, only happiness and willing. I’m proud to have been part of such an event with such dedicated people.
Ok serious bit over now, back to the insanity. Well a personal highlight for me was the Zen pinball tournament. A high score challenge on the World War Hulk table that saw many gamers battle it out with a final to be shown head to head on the big screen. I was lucky enough to post a top score and make it into the final with some close competition. In the end Jaymes Hatch and I went head to head with some close gaming and without sounding too smug, I did get into a nice rhythm and take the win. The one game and competition I did win but I count it as a worthy win.
Up next was the Call of Duty tournament which saw another full roster of applicants. One on One battles with the first round being the first to fifteen kills. Some matches were complete white washes and others were much closer. Both myself and Connor went up against each other in the first round and the score ended 15-14 with a very lucky kill at the end giving me the win. Only just I will admit as I had some lucky escapes from RPG shots that whistled past my ears so close I can still feel them. That luck however left me soon after. I went into the second round with high hopes that were soon dashed and destroyed by superior players. In the end JoypadAndMe did hold its own with Danny Cox taking the final win in a tight match. Congratulations to Danny and I hope you are ready as I have a feeling that your CoD crown will be challenged quite soon!
While all this was going on Connor and Jaymes sat down for some co-op puzzle solving on Sparpweeds game: Ibb And Obb. It was really interesting to see the game mechanics work with two people so sleep deprived but they did surprisingly well. What was even better was seeing different people come up to watch them and give advise or ask questions about a game many had not seen or heard of before. Ibb And Obb showed itself off really well in the darkened light with its bright colours and well created levels that somehow suck you in and get you strangely invested in what is going on and what is needed to complete the levels. It was great to see people interested in a game so different to the usual FPS titles and such like. I think Connor may have converted a few people with that play through. If you are interested in Ibb And Obb then we have a review for you right HERE.
Probably one of the funniest things we saw during the event was Adam Lewis ‘bravely’ choosing to be waxed to raise money. At a £1 a waxing strip people could wax his legs or that was the plan at least. It ended up being a free for all with the poor man loosing hair everywhere, all in the name of charity you understand. People were putting bid in to was certain areas specifically. All in all Adam withstood just under 40 waxing strips and lost far more hair than he originally anticipated but well done to him for putting himself up for such a unique way of raising money. I hope it all grows back soon.
The last few hours of the event were a bit of a blur for most. Gaming still carried on strongly though with Fifa, Grand Theft Auto 5 and many more games being played constantly. The big screen proved to be a hit with 4 player co-op action on both Scott Pilgrim vs The World and afterwards Castle Crashers. Castle Crashers proved to be a great hit with almost 3 hours being put in non stop along with cries for toast and other such ramblings. It was great to see that even after 22 hours of gaming there was still such a spirit to finish in style. All through the event we had about 30 people at any one time. This was far more than we imagined we would have in the early morning hours.
As the event ended everyone that took part showed signs of complete tiredness and at the same time a sense of pride that we all made it through the entire event. As 11am rolled around we all congratulated each other and once the final packing up of the many consoles, controllers, wires and games had been completed we posed for one final photo and then we all headed off ending the event for this year. After much sleep and rejuvenation we have all now recovered and if you can believe it, we are already planning our next big event so keep your eyes peeled.
ExtraLife 2013 has been a huge success on every level. The charity at this point in time has raised over $3.86 million. This is almost double what we all raised last year. The JoypadAndMe team along with A&J’s and Replay Events have raised $2065.18 and we still have more to add to that so everyone that took part can congratulate themselves on such a great showing. At the time of writing the JoypadAndMe team are ranked 249 out of nearly 4ooo separate teams!
Finally the true winners of the ExtraLife event are the kids. All the money raised goes towards the care and support of kids with cancer and we can all be sure that by playing video games we have actually helped to save lives and care for children. What more can anybody ask for.
So until next time, Thank you to everyone involved and we will see you all again next time round.
People we want to thank.
Adam Lewis, Jaymes Hatch, A&J’s Gaming Café, Chris Vaughan, Replay Events, Holly Cooper, Ubisoft, Bobby Loertsher, Zen Studios, Hugo Bustillos, Sony Entertainment UK, Richard Boeser, Sparpweed.com, Chimps At Play, Gavin Bonshor, Play3r.net, Matt Crosby, Emily King, Nerds Assemble Podcast, Justin Smith, Rob Mcllroy, Last Save Loaded Podcast, Catherine Cox, Nora Cox, Mina Raven, Four Door Lemon LTD, Miguel Martinez, Patricia Eberhardt, Paul Fiander, Josh Willbanks, David Starrett, Bill Starrett, Rosy Starrett, Jon Evans, Melissa & Duncan, Racheal Eberhardt, Derek Sauder, Anna Willbanks, Hendrick Parks, Marcia Webb, Brenda Tanguma, Daniel Handforth, Adam ‘Adamantium’ Howells, Brandon Lang, Jenny Myerscough, Mina ‘MinaRawr’ Raven, Emma Cox and everyone else that attended the event, I wish I could name you all.