Ben and Kim spent a day volunteering for SpecialEffect at Rezzed 2016 as part of our continued support of this fantastic charity. It was Ben’s first time doing so, and here are his thoughts.
SpecialEffect do fantastic work. The assistance they give in helping those who can’t use a traditional controller to enjoy video games that we take for granted is simply phenomenal. I was, and still am, flattered and honoured to have been offered the opportunity to be a part of that and represent the charity at this year’s Rezzed event.
My day started out as it always does, up at 05:30 and on the 06:28 train into London, but this time I had to trek across the City rather than stay in the West End for the day job. I arrived at Tobacco Dock a lot earlier than expected so stopped off for a coffee before meeting up with Kim and getting our Exhibitor passes. Once inside, we met up with the rest of the team: Stefan, another volunteer who had driven from Cheltenham; Frankie, an occupational therapist from SpecialEffect; and Kirstie, also from the charity and ‘stand mum’ for the day.
We were given quick demos of the tech on display; a mind-blowing version of Minecraft that was completely controlled with your eyes, Unravel played with a giant control system that resembled a fight-stick and lastly Rocket League that required the player to use their chin to steer. Immediately the benefits were clear and although there was an initial struggle with the new input methods they were intuitive enough that we soon had the hang of it all.
The brief was to build awareness of the work that SpecialEffect do and that the charity existed. Very much an informative, promotional exercise rather than a donations push.
With that out of the way, the doors to Rezzed opened and we were off. As a fan of Rocket League, I gravitated to that game and was soon cajoling passers-by into matches between friends, lovers and complete strangers. In hindsight, I was maybe a little over-enthusiastic with my commentary and goal celebrations but it seemed to drive the crowds so I kept it up. All the while reinforcing the message that we really do take the ability to use our fingers and thumbs with a precision that is denied to so many.
What also interested me was how many people hadn’t heard of SpecialEffect or what they do. Given the nature of the industry and the help that the charity brings I was genuinely surprised when visitors told me they hadn’t come across the organisation before. Well, they certainly have now.
The most satisfying part of the day was seeing the reaction on people’s faces when they scored a goal using only their chin. The triumph, satisfaction and pleasure that moment brought them was superb, and was also an incredibly useful tool to ask them to consider that what if that had been the first time they had ever played a game? Imagine how good that would feel.
That’s what SpecialEffect does. That’s why it’s so important. That’s why we support them.
The day flew by, and I had a cracking time from start to finish. If you have the opportunity to volunteer for Special Effect then please do. You won’t regret it.