Video games? Check. Support for an amazing charity? Check. One unforgettable weekend? Double-check. The 1001Up team are encouraging everyone to join the next GameBlast event for SpecialEffect.
I first found out about SpecialEffect in September 2013 when I came across their stand at the EGX event in London. Research and Development team member Gavin Tan and media specialist Hannah Whittaker caught us looking at their promotional material, and their passion for the charity’s work really inspired us when they came over to talk. 1001Up has now been involved with the organisation for two years and we’re continuing our support by getting involved with their next GameBlast event.
We’re looking for people to join us for this gaming marathon on 26-28 February 2016 and help raise as much as possible for such a worthy cause. If you’re interested or want to find out more about the charity, then please read on and get in touch.
The work of SpecialEffect
The team at SpecialEffect aims to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them play video games. It might sound like a small thing but levelling the playing field in this way has a profoundly positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation. The charity uses technology – ranging from joypads to eye-control systems – to enhance the quality of life of those with all kinds of needs including stroke and road-traffic accident patients, individuals with life-limiting conditions and injured soldiers returning from oversees. And what’s more, they do all of this free of charge.
Everybody’s abilities are different so the team visits people to find out exactly what they want to play and what they need to play it. Every system recommended is different and sometimes that can mean adding voice-control or a chin joystick to existing equipment; or it could mean getting the drill and soldering iron to adapt button positions on a controller. Each solution is unique and SpecialEffect doesn’t charge for its work in any way; it simply aims to do whatever it takes to raise the quality of life for everyone it works with.
In December 2013 we had the pleasure of interviewing Communications Manager Mark Saville. He told us: “A lot of the people we see have degenerative conditions like Muscular Dystrophy, where all the body’s muscles weaken over time. So on an initial visit we might be able to get them back in the game with some foot switches or a chin joystick, but as their condition advances, we’ll go back again and again to alter the setup. There’s some amazing tech out there, and our job is to join the dots by connecting a person’s abilities with the tech, often in combinations – voice commands, muscle twitch switches and eye control, for example. We’ve even been looking into brain control as a future option, and we’re following developments closely.”
Our past involvement with the charity
When the opportunity arose to volunteer for the charity at their stand at EGX in September 2014, Phil and I jumped at the chance to help out. We had the pleasure of working alongside founder Dr Mick Donegan who spoke to us about the work his organisation does and showed us plenty of photographs from his recent case visits; it was inspiring to see him so enthusiastic about the cause and really made us feel as if we were part of something worthwhile. We also met some other lovely volunteers – including Chloe, who you can see in the photograph below.
This technology has the potential to open up communication, independence and self-esteem for those who can’t use a computer effectively in any other way.
There were two main reasons for the charity’s stand that year, the first being the chance to show off their amazing eye-gaze system. Imagine being able to control a PC simply by looking at it, and using the internet or playing games with the flick of an eye; add an artificial voice and you could even talk, perhaps for the first time in your life. This technology has the potential to open up communication, independence and self-esteem for those who can’t use a computer effectively in any other way. During our time volunteering we set attendees up on the equipment so they could have a go themselves, with many coming away impressed.
The second reason was to promote the GameBlast event, which takes place during February each year. SpecialEffect challenges gamers to organise their own gaming marathon with friends, colleagues and family over a weekend towards the end of the month and get sponsored for doing so. The 1001Up team took part in 2014, managing to raise a respectable £535.60 and having plenty of fun along the way – including interviewing Katie Hallahan from Phoenix Online Studios about the fantastic Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller; getting kicked out of Trafalgar Square in London; and seeing Ben wearing lipstick and a muscle-man apron.
Gamely Giving for GameBlast 2016
This year we want to do it all again and encourage everyone to join in with us. Last February gamers raised an incredible £120,000 and the charity are now gunning for £150,000, an ambitious target but one we’re sure can be reached if we all pull together. We’re aiming to do our bit by starting a team under the banner of ‘Gamely Giving’ and we’re going big this time around: instead of doing the suggested 24-hours, we’re aiming for a full-on forty-eight hours between 26-28 February 2016 with as large a group as possible. We’d better start stocking up on the caffeine and snacks.
If you’d like to join us and support the amazing SpecialEffect, please get in touch using the details below. Whether you’re a blogger, YouTuber, streamer, developer or a gamer who wants to take part in one awesome weekend, everyone is welcome to be a part of the Gamely Giving team. You’ll be able to join in from the comfort of your own home and have the perfect excuse to play and stream video games all day long – while feeling warm and fuzzy inside, knowing you’re helping a worthwhile cause.
The sponsorship raised through the GameBlast event will help the charity change the lives of many more people by bringing the fun and inclusion of gaming back. It will let them visit individuals to find out exactly what they want to play and then match, modify or create equipment to lend them at no cost. And the money won’t be wasted: last year around 90% of donations went directly into SpecialEffect’s frontline work, while the other 10% kept them running so they could continue doing what they do best.
The following beautiful people have already signed up to be a part of Gamely Giving:
If you’re interested in joining our group, please get in touch using the details below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We’ll also publish regular updates on Gamely Giving’s progress over the next couple of months so keep an eye out on the site.
If you’d like to find out more about SpecialEffect, take a look at our interview with Mark Saville or head over to their website. You can also get in touch with Mark, Nick and Barry at email@example.com or on 01608 810 055.