Another amazing year of Extra Life is behind us and boy, what a year it was! As of this writing, I’ve raised a total of $1,450 for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario thanks to the incredibly generosity of so many people. It’s less than I raised last year, mostly because I didn’t have the same number of live stream viewers as I did when I played Dark Souls for 24 hours (more on that later) but the good news is, there’s still time! Donations are staying open until the end of the calendar year so if you’ve been holding off contributing for whatever reason, please consider making a donation now on my Extra Life page. I’ve crossed my first stretch goal which means I will have to live stream a single session of Daikatana (and I really should have checked the length of it before making that promise, that’s gonna’ be a looooong 12 hours) but we can totally still cross $2,000 before the end of the year which will commit me to playing through Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Anyone who saw me play through Amnesia: The Dark Descent last year will tell you that this is must see TV. Dig deep if you can, I promise it’ll be worth it!
If I could assign a theme to the entire Extra Life event this year, I would say it was this: A few big downs and some tremendous ups. I’ll start with the downs. The biggest one by far is that some unbelievably evil scumbags thought it would make them mighty l33t h4x0rz to repeatedly slam Extra Life’s web site with a Distributed Denial of Service Attack or DDoS. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically when you take a bunch of computers (usually ones compromised by viruses) and use them to hammer a web site with so much traffic that it crashes. This happened three separate times throughout the day and made the charity unable to receive donations for several hours. It was only through the wizardry of their IT team at DonorDrive that they were able to get things back up. I work in IT, DDoS attacks are no joke. What kind of pond scum would attack a charity for sick kids? Wherever those people are, there is a dark, desolate, lonely place reserved for them and I hope they see it sooner rather than later. The good news is that didn’t slow momentum but I’ll get to that.
Secondly, my Alesis MultiMix 4 USB decided that right in the middle of the stream would be the perfect time to experience it’s first ever major failure, leaving me talking but coming through mute to the stream for at least an hour until someone finally pointed it out. I have many hours on this mixer, I have no idea why it failed but everything appeared to still be working. Thankfully I was able to switch over to my headset mic which saved the day but yeah, I’m really upset that this supposedly professional grade product didn’t hold up. It works fine now so I don’t know. Don’t buy Alesis is all I can say. I hope to be rid of this thing soon.
And lastly, Twitch frankly failed us all that day. I’ll be frank here: I’ve never liked Twitch. I use it because it’s the only live streaming service that anyone uses but they’re awful. Their site, UI and tools are terrible, their servers are slow and unreliable, their ads are obnoxious and worst of all, they’ve made it impossible for new streamers to get noticed by only ever promoting what’s popular. There’s an entire blog post coming soon talking about that last issue. They were supposed to be an “official partner” of Extra Life. They told everyone streaming that day to set their game to Extra Life 2013. For those not familiar, when you start a stream on Twitch, you can specify the game you’re playing to make it easy for people to find streams of the games they want. Twitch has this section on the left of their page where they promote certain games and channels, giving them more exposure. The problem is, the games they promote are always the same handful of titles that are already popular and don’t need the promotion. We assumed that asking us to use Extra Life 2013 as our game means they’d mark it as a promoted title so that we could get more notice for our charity streams. Nope. As usual, all day the promoted games consisted of the same couple of MOBAs, World of Warcraft and Minecraft, games everyone already knows about already. In no small part thanks to this, both my stream and a lot of others didn’t get nearly the traffic they did in previous years and considering how much support I garnered from random viewers during my Dark Souls stream last year, I think it’s fair to say that directly hurt how much money I raised. If you’re going to be an “official partner” Twitch, you need to do better than what you did. Your service was already bad enough but you let everyone at Extra Life down. Thanks for nothing, I really hope another service dethrones you soon.
Alright, I’ve vented the bad, now let’s talk about the good. First and most importantly: Extra Life as a group absolutely destroyed all past records this year. Last year was astonishing and we raised a total of around $2,000,000. This year, they crossed $3,000,000 barely halfway through the marathon and are now sitting at $3,600,000. That’s unbelievable. Extra Life is now a phenomena and that’s so fantastic and exciting! A ton of the gaming press were in on it, as were several prominent YouTubers and Twitch streamers and it all ended up raising a ton more money to help sick kids. The extra competition from people with built-in audiences ultimately probably did hurt smaller fundraisers like myself but in the end, a lot more was raised overall and that’s what really matters. DDoS attacks be damned, you can’t stop the signal!
Secondly, my focus on co-op games and not devoting the whole stream to one title really ended up giving me a few of really cool experiences. I played a boatload of Battlefield 4 with Gamers With Jobs guys, despite it being kind of broken because well, it’s a DICE game at launch. I also finally got a chance to play a bunch of Magicka co-op online with my friends Heather, Kai and his brother Tor. It was stupid and hilarious and so much fun as Magicka online play is known to be. There’s a highlight video of that session on my YouTube channel that’s a fun watch. Later in the night, my friends Chris, Dan and I decided to fire up Warframe, a really cool free-to-play co-op game that’s now on Steam. I haven’t played it months and didn’t realise how far it had come. Chris had never played it and he really liked it. I tweeted about us playing it to the official account run by the developer Digital Extremes and both they and several of their employees retweeted that, gaining me a surge in viewers, including a Warframe superfan who has over 600 hours(!) in the game and offered to tour us through all the high level areas. It was a blast! Then something I dare say more amazing happened. Chris and my friends Demonbox, KeyMastar, Vector and I decide to try out the Source mod No More Room In Hell which came out the same day, after supposedly 8+ years in development. It’s a hardcore zombie survival game that’s so unbelievably broken, brutal and unforgiving that it goes from being bad and loops around to being awesome. This was at about 2:00am and we were all exhausted but what transpired over Skype was just a magical experience. There’s a 25 minute highlight video I cut together from almost 90 minutes of footage and seriously, you’ve just gotta’ watch it. We gelled so well and had a great time. I can’t promise anything but I want to see if I can make that experience a more regular thing with that crew.
Other than that, I just want to thank a few people for their extra efforts in making this year’s event something special. First is my wonderful and beautiful girlfriend Sarah who kept me caffeinated, fed and alcoholised that day sop my breaks were minimal. You’re amazing babe, I love you! Secondly, I had several big contributors this year who I need to call out for their generosity. Both Sarah and my Mom put in $100 because they’re awesome. Ian Malone, the CFO of my employer BluMetric Environmental also put in $100 because he’s awesome and two local Stittsville area food trucks called Big D’s Dog House and Wiches’ Cauldron each put in $100. I go to these places all the time because they’re incredible and right by my house but I hit them up for donations, thinking maybe they’d put in like $20 or something. Nope, Wiches’ Cauldron came right out with $100 and Big D’s said he’d donate $1 from every item sold on the day I asked which ended up coming to $100 as well. These are tiny businesses that just started up. I have no doubt every penny is crucial for them but they both came up with $100 for charity without a second thought. These are damn good people. If you live in Ottawa and don’t give them your business for that reason alone, then do it because they make amazing food! I can’t thank them enough and I hope they meet all the success in the world, they deserve it.
So yeah, that was my experience this year. It was full of challenges but both myself and more importantly, the charity persevered and we did a ton of good together! I couldn’t be more proud to do this event and I hope to do it for many years to come. Despite not (yet) raising as much as I wanted, I’m as of this writing, I’m 232nd of 37,826 participants on the Extra Life leaderboards and more impressively, the Gamers With Jobs team, which went from just a couple of people last year to more than half a dozen this year is 105th out of 3,617 teams which is unreal! Our captain and my RambleCast buddy Chris Cesarano had to raise our team target multiple times because we kept blowing past it and we even exceeded the latest one of $3,500 and are now at over $3,700. As usual, Gamers With Jobs is one of the best places on the Internet and I’m so proud of everyone there who both participated and chipped in. You are all amazing! If you haven’t yet, please consider contributing as donations are still being accepted. There’s still time to make my play Amnesia’s sequel live on the Internet! Thank you all and I’ll see you again next year!