Tomorrow, I'm going to be doing something I've never attempted before - playing video games for twenty-four hours straight, to raise money for charity. I've spoken about it a little in my last few blog posts, but as the event looms ever closer, I feel it's probably a big enough deal for me to devote a full entry to it.
I was inspired to set myself this challenge by the Extra Life initiative, an annual charity event that encourages people to play games non-stop for a whole day to raise funds for children's hospitals. It's an incredibly worthy cause, one that I highly recommend you all try to support in some capacity when it rolls back round next year. Unfortunately, by the time I learned about Extra Life back in the middle of October, I was a little too late to hop on the fundraising bandwagon. Rather than waiting a whole year for the chance to come around again, though, I figured I'd attempt something similar off my own back. I've spent the last month or so organising and raising funds for a twenty-four hour video game marathon of my own. For the record, my longest straight run playing video games prior to this challenge stands at about eight hours, a feat I managed at the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV way back in 2008. This is nearly three times that, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about the prospect of pulling such a lengthy non-stop gaming session. I'm just planning to keep the cause in mind, and soldier on through.
Speaking of causes, my chosen charity for this sponsored game-a-thon is Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. It's a cause that's particularly close to me, having both family and friends whose lives have been affected by blood cancer in the last couple of years. When it came to choosing a charity to run this marathon in support of, there was no doubt in my mind it had to be this one. If the money I raise can go towards preventing even one family from having to go through what those people close to me are going through, I'll consider this challenge more than worth it.
So what exactly am I going to be doing tomorrow? Let me break down some of the specifics for you:
- The marathon is going to run for a full twenty-four hours, starting at 9am GMT on Friday 23rd November and ending at 9am GMT on Saturday 24th November.
- This challenge isn't restricted to a single game, franchise or platform. I can play any video game I like, on any console I like, as briefly or for as long as I like.
- I'm allowed bathroom breaks, and brief interludes (no more than a couple of minutes) to grab/prepare food and drink. They're the only concessions, though - I'm not allowed to put the controller down for any other reason.
- People will be joining me at a couple of points through the day. Partly to play some multi-player games with me, but also to provide me with what I imagine will be some much-needed social interaction.
So them's the rules. Next I suppose you'll want to know what I'll be playing. I've compiled a shortlist of games I'll probably pick up over the course of the twenty-four hours, which you can find below. It's by no means a 'definitive' list - there's room for manoeuvre, and I may well end up playing something completely different that isn't on this list at all. Still, it's a pretty good indicator of how I'm planning to pass the time:
- Alan Wake - I'm already pretty set on the idea of this being my 'through-the-night' game. I've been told by a Twitter acquaintance that it's around ten hours long, so it will hopefully keep me busy through the night and (what I anticipate will be very difficult) early hours of the morning.
- Crash Team Racing - One friend is joining me for a couple of hours in the afternoon for a little multiplayer fun, This will no doubt be one of the games we play, as it's long been a mainstay of our competitive multiplayer sessions.
- FIFA 12 - Another game I'll no doubt be playing with my friend in the afternoon, as the series is one of his favourites. I fully expect to have my arse handed to me, even despite the fact he'll be playing on an alien Xbox 360 controller.
- Final Fantasy VII - Because of this challenge, there won't be an episode of Enduring Final Fantasy VII this week, but that doesn't mean I won't be playing it. I may use some of the time on hand to grind out some of the side quests, such as the Battle Square at the Gold Saucer, and the annoyingly lengthy process of breeding a gold chocobo.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - Given that this is my current 'game-on-the-go', I'd be remiss not to play at least a little of this strategy RPG. I'll most likely just grind out some battles, push through a couple of missions, and improve my clan a little more.
- Pro Evolution Soccer 6 - My other friend will be joining me late in the evening for another couple of hours of multiplayer. His game of choice will be this old incarnation of Pro Evolution Soccer, so we can relive some of our fondest gaming memories from years gone by.
- Sam & Max - Situation: Comedy - I played the first episode of Telltale's Sam & Max adventures last week, and this seems like a perfect time to dive into the second (not to mention an ideal excuse to finish it in one sitting!).
- Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing - While I've chosen this game specifically, it's more an indication that I might use some of the time available to return to old games and polish up some unearned Achievements. I've got a few missions still to finish in Sega Racing, not to mention those Silver and Gold Licences to earn.
- TimeSplitters 2 - If we've got enough time after FIFA and CTR, my friend and I are hoping to play a little of this classic first-person shooter together. I'm not sure if we'll play competitive multiplayer modes or attempt some of the campaign co-operatively, but either is just fine with me.
I guess all that's left to do is let you know how you can get involved. If you want to follow my endeavour, there are a few different ways you can do so. I'll be sharing my progress periodically through status updates here on my Giant Bomb profile, and will probably do the same a little more frequently through my Twitter feed as well. People who want to see the action unfold as it happens can tune into a live-stream, which (internet connection permitting) will run for the whole twenty-four hours. I've embedded a player below, for the sake of convenience:
The most important way you can get involved with my marathon, though, is by donating to the cause. I've set up a JustGiving page for the event, which you can find here. I'm not asking for much, even a little pocket change would be brilliant. Heck, I've got over 250 followers on this site - if every one of you donated just fifty pence, we could collectively raise well over £100 for a very worthy cause. Your money could contribute so much, and make real, tangible differences for families affected by blood cancers in the future. Surely that's worth passing up a single beer, or that game you're eyeing up in the Steam Autumn Sale that you'll never get around to playing anyway?
Thanks very much to all of you who take the time to read this post. Thanks a million to those of you who choose to support me, whether through a monetary donation or simply by leaving some words of encouragement below. It all means a lot to me. This is an awesome community of game-playing duders and duderettes, and I know you won't let me down, just like I don't plan to let the brilliant folks at L&LR down. For now, I'm off for a cup of hot chocolate and a fairly early night. Tomorrow, I've got one heck of a day ahead of me. Hopefully I'll see you on the other side of it.
Currently playing - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)