We’ve all had epic videogame sessions: long weekends spent blasting away aliens online or fulfilling our fantasies of being a premier league superstar. But what if you want to take your gaming sessions to the next level? How do you do that?
In recent years, videogame marathons have become more and more popular as a way for gamers to raise money for charity by doing what they love most. From personal gaming challenges for a local cause to full-on organised team events spanning the globe, playing games for extended periods is a great way for gaming to do some good in the world.
Earlier this year, I took on the challenge of playing Fifa 15 for over 48 hours non-stop in order to set a new Guinness World Record and raise money for the amazing Special Effect charity. So I thought I’d share my experience in order to help anyone who’s thinking of doing a videogame marathon in the future.
Here’s a few of the key things that I learned to help you through your
horrific ordeal awesome fun times:
1. Know Your Limits
Playing your favourite game for an extended amount of time may sound easy at first, but there’s a hell of a lot of things that you have to consider when playing for this massive length of time.
Things like fatigue and morale are massively important especially for longer sessions. The longer you play the harder it will become to maintain concentration and you will start to forget what was ever fun about playing videogames. Your reaction times will also decrease dramatically so it’s worth planning ahead in regards to what game modes you’re going to play during the later stages. I gave myself breaks from the main game by occasionally opening up FIFA packs.
Don’t underestimate the physical toll this will take on your body. Towards the end of my Fifa session my hands had swollen so badly I was barely able to hold a controller. By the second day, one of my support staff called a doctor to make sure I wasn’t permanently injuring myself (I wasn’t, but the thought of never being able to play Fifa again no longer fills me with horror).
2. Pick Your Game(s) Carefully
One of the reasons I decided to take on Fifa was that at it’s core, it’s pretty simple to play. While you don’t HAVE to be any good at the game you choose, no-one wants to spend 24 hours getting hammered by their opponents. It’s just not good for morale. So look at games that feature a non competitive multiplayer mode or maybe some co-op to get friends involved
If you’re going for an official world record than there will be restrictions as to what games and modes you can play, but charity events like Extra Life allow you to choose whatever game you like. Take advantage and pick a game that has multiple game modes in order to provide some variety.
3. Get The Right Team
As with anything in life, it’s important to surround yourself with the very best people. This is hugely important, especially if you’re going for an official world record. Guinesses’ guidelines are very strict on just who you can have in your support team; you can’t just pick a selection of your friends and family to step in and you need at least one expert witness.
For non world record sessions it’s still pretty important to have the right people around you. For starters, an understanding partner will go a long way if you’re planning to park yourself in front of the living room TV for the best part of a weekend.
I was incredibly lucky to have a great team in place for my marathon, especially in the latter stages when things got really tough for everyone. I will openly admit that it was my team that had the most difficult job throughout, all I had to do was play games while they had to manage all of the paperwork and technical issues, as well as deal with any members of the public who wanted to get involved.
4. Choose the Right Place
If you’re going to settle in for a long session of anything then it’s important to be as comfortable as possible – not too comfortable mind, we don’t want you falling asleep midway.
Most gaming marathons can be done in the comfort of your own home. However, world record attempts must be done in a public venue so make sure you can find somewhere suitable that is willing to host you for that amount of time. Mine took place in London’s premier gaming themed bar, The Loading Bar. Even then, make sure to think about things like decent wi-fi and enough power outlets.
5. It’s Not All Red Bull & Pizza
It may “give you wings” but Red Bull isn’t necessary the best thing to use to keep you going through the night. For one thing it’ll dramatically increase the number of visits you’ll make to the bathroom. Alcohol, with its drowsiness-inducing effects, is obviously a no go for serious marathons too.
I tried using energy drinks throughout my marathon and had mixed results. Monster Energy made me feel ill and gave me a sore throat, despite me having no issues drinking it previously. in the end I went with a couple of large bottles of Lucozade to keep me going.
My support team constantly kept me motivated and awake far more than the energy drinks. By the end, we were quizzing each other about random things in order to keep our minds awake. That, and the the inspiring heartfelt ballads of Taylor Swift
6. Don’t Panic If things Go Wrong
Obviously, if you’re doing a personal marathon from home then there’s not much that can go wrong, bar maybe a power cut or an impromptu drop-in from the in-laws. However, if you’re doing an official record attempt then there’s a hell of a lot of planning and effort that goes into things to make sure it complies with all of the official rules (every toilet break was timed, key moments had to be filmed, volunteers had to be constantly awake etc etc etc). Nothing would be quite so heart breaking as everyone putting all that effort in over 48 hours to later be told it’s disqualified.
7. Be Grateful
The hardest part for me was putting together my support team in accordance with Guinesses’ strict guidelines. Getting strangers to volunteer their own time for little to no reward is a big ask even for the most charitable. There’s no way I would have lasted the full time without their support, insults and general tomfoolery. I was also incredibly lucky to get this opportunity to support one of my favourite charities. Be grateful! You get to play videogames for 24 hours+ straight!
Are you planning a gaming marathon? let us know. or maybe you’re thinking of having a crack at a world record of your own? feel free to get in touch for any advice or even if you need an expert witness