NeoMagicWarrior's Blog

Posted on Sep 21st 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (NeoMagicWarrior)
Posted under Extra Life, Marathon, Fund Raiser, Charity

Extra Life Day 2016 is less than two months away (November 5th 2016), and I thought it may be interesting to give the community an insight on what it takes to run a successful event...and also, so that I can have a space to vent about how much work / craziness goes into setting up one of these ridiculous events.

First, for those of you not familiar with it, Extra Life is a fundraiser similar to events such as walks for cancer or bike-a-thons. Essentially, you sign up via their super user friendly website and then get friends, family, and people on the Internet to sponsor you. You then play games instead of getting all sweaty and exercising (ewwww). Most events go for 24 hours, but you make your own rules regarding the length. Finally, all the money you gather goes to your local children's hospital (through Children's Miracle Network). What is not to like?! Play games, Raise money, Heal kids!

The Story Of Extra Life (SUPER SAD WARNING)

My explanation is kind of overly simple, but thankfully Extra Life has a really nice FAQ here --->

Extra Life is pretty important to me personally, as my little brother had an accident as a small child and a CMN hospital is the reason he can walk today. Without funding from places like Extra Life, children's hospitals may not have had the proper equipment or doctors to heal my brother and many others. I know many of our own members are mothers and fathers, and it makes me feel proud to be helping insure the future of a new generation of gamers, no matter how small.

Two years ago, along with a group of comedian friends of mine (+ 2 Comedy), we put on a spectacular 24 hour gaming marathon at our friendly local gaming store. We tackled the challenge of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battletoads, and MegaMan X. We broadcasted all 3 games simultaneously on Twitch, and also ran a 4th stream with local guests, friends, and a bunch of funny games. Additionally, people on Twitch could donate and give us "handicaps" such as making us play upside down, drink hot sauce, or sit in a bucket of ice! 

A man whose pants have literally been scared off

It was a huge success. Running concurrently with our event was the store's "All Night Gaming" event, which meant that we had company for the entire event. People crowded around as we held a storewide Super Puzzle Fighter tournament. They shrieked in terror as we played the newly released Five Nights at Freddy' a bucket of our 2 am. In the end, we raised over $600, and only finished Mega Man X (to be fair, the three of us who were the worst at games got charged with the challenges).

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, we could not get together for an event last year, and we all vowed that 2016 would mark our return to the fundraising trail...and boy is it coming along. This year's plans have been paired down to be a bit of a more streamlined and functioning machine. The plan is to play 24 challenges in 24 hours, + 2 Comedy V.S. The Legends of the Interwebs (hey, that's me!! More news on the new group eventually!).

After all of that prologue, we are now getting to the meat of this article, which is to explain what we have to do to plan our Extra Life event. Hopefully, this will help out anyone else who may be interested in setting up their own event, or even just those who would be curious as to what kind of work goes into this kind of production.

The first major thing to determine is the scope of the event. Like I said, our previous event was 3 games, 4 live streams, and a bunch of us. This year's event should be 24 games, but on one stream. It'll still have a bunch of playing in a group makes things more fun! We also prefer to hold our events in a public place, so that friends and viewers can come hang out with us all night. Some people prefer to hold their events in their own home, which offers comfort, but restricts who can show up and people walking by. The last event was held in the final days of our old board game store. This year's event is being held in the meeting room of our local library...which brings up another point: Logistics.

2014 Extra Life setup
3 main games, 9 screens, 4 computers, an Xbox 360, a PS2, an N64 and more energy drinks, pizza and alcohol than a group of nerds should ever have

Depending on your type of event, you'll need different stuff. At the bare minimum, you need whatever game or games you are playing, a console / computer and monitor if it's a video game and probably a table if it is a board game. Seating, while optional, is highly recommended. Access to food and water is usually a good idea too. Some of this seems pretty rudimentary, but has actually disqualified a few venues we were looking into!

Central Command

If you are planning on streaming your event, time to start the checklist. An account on whatever service you plan on using, a computer capable of streaming, cameras, microphones, game capture devices, and high speed internet all get added to the list of "mandatory" items. I highly recommend using Open Broadcast Software as it is free, easy to learn, and works well with most streaming services. I'll be using it, in combination with around 5-6 cameras, 2-3 mixing boards, more microphones than  I can count, and a bunch of different game platforms and systems, and OBS handles all that in stride.

The Otto Bruyns Public Library of Northfield, NJ is the setting for this year's event for us...and works out almost perfectly. The library hits our "public place" criteria pretty spot on. While the building is not open for 24 hours, they have a separate event room, which has it's own door and can be left open for the whole event. They have gigabit internet service, which is more than enough for some high quality streaming. The library has even volunteered to help buy any extra cables / cords that we need to hook up to their sound system and projector, which we will be playing games on! The event room is also quite spacious, and comes well equipped with a good setup of tables and chairs to make things easy for accommodating a large group. Most importantly, they have a mini-kitchen setup, with a fridge and sink, and easy access to a bunch of local food and convenience stores. Even better, the space was FREE to use! The only downside, is that we can not bring alcohol on the premise, even after hours, but some sacrifice had to be made for an otherwise perfect venue.

This fridge will be the MVP...I just know it

No shortage of seating!

This whole wall will eventually house Mario Party

The other major part of the planning steps so far has been getting sponsors, donations, and publicity. Thankfully, our friends run a successful podcast, and have found a few good sponsors, and have a media outlet to advertise on...but that still isn't enough. Tell everyone about your event....literally everyone; the guy at our 7-11 said he'd give us money for it already. Ask local businesses to sponsor. Talk to friends with podcasts, reach out to celebrities (no matter how small!). Guilt your family by threatening to not show up to the holidays if they don't sponsor you!

Most importantly: get organized! Make sure to organize all your info about your big day in an easily readable/accessible/findable way. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Excel works well, but if you need to coordinate with others, try a service like Google Sheets, so you can share the workbooks with others and they can help make edits to the plans. It also helps coordinate the work when you divide it up amongst your own group. Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world being able to edit on the fly with a whole group behind you.

Lastly, Have fun! Games are supposed to be fun ,and doing a great thing at the same time should be a bonus...not a chore. Pick games that will be fun and interesting for you and your viewers (maybe add some viewer interaction games or prizes). Don't let all the bureaucracy of setting up an event get in the way of having a good time.

I hope this gives a brief (yeah right) insight into what it takes to set up your own Extra Life game day event. If you want to help sponsor our event let me know. Our own RFGen ColectorCast and the PlayCast are among those already on board! Regardless, I hope to see each and every one of you in the chat of our Twitch channel on November 5th and 6th.

Till next time!

~ Neo

Donate to Team + 2 Comedy / Legends of the Interwebs! --->
Watch us on November 5th and 6th here! ---->

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Very cool my friend!  I was first introduced to Extra Life last year at RWX and spent some time at their table learning a little about what they do. This is such a great cause and the Playcast is happy to support it. Smiley
Those are some great tips. I'm glad to hear you and RFGen are getting involved. I've participated in Extra Life for the past 3 years myself and I'm really proud to be part of such a great cause. It's really awesome your brother got such good care and that he's doing well. This hits home in a personal way for me as well. I had some medical issues of my own when I was born, and if not for the fantastic care I received from my local CMN hospital I wouldn't have survived even the first few years of my life. I love being able to use our passions to help give back. Bravo to you and everyone involved, and here's looking forward to another successful event this year!
@zophar53: Awesome! What kind of event do you participate in? Do you stream it? Any tips for us? I'm always so interested in other people's events so I can make ours bigger and better..."with blackjack and hookers!"
You guys should start an Extra Life thread and in the initial post provide your names, what games you might play, links to any Twitch channels, and of course, name of group and link for donations.
@singlebanana: That is a great idea! I'll work on that when I have some free time.
@NeoMagicWarrior: My set-up has been different every time. The first year I participated the game site I wrote for did a big thing as a team with a whole bunch of gaming set-ups, several different streams, and went all out. The next year it was me and my gf just by ourselves, and the following year it was my gf and I and some of her gaming friends and we did more streaming. I don't really know what I'm doing this year. I like the idea of a forum thread though. Let me know if you want help with that and we can put something together this weekend or something.

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