Excuse the expletive but I'm too old for this shit ...
That's the thought that passed through my head at 6:00am when the alarm went off on Saturday. I said it out loud again at 11:30pm after spending almost 16 hours staring at the screen in the Roundhouse boardroom and again when I almost dropped my iPad from exhaustion at 3:45am.
But at 8:00am, 24 hours after the start of my ordeal, that thought was gone as I shook the hands of a bunch of excellent people who stayed up with me for 24 hours to do this thing. By 8:00am a global community of geeks had raised over $6,000,000 to support children's hospitals by playing games.
I had heard of Extra Life before but never really gave it much thought until Dustin Hill from Code Studio approached us a few weeks ago with a proposal to host an event at The Roundhouse. It seemed like a perfect mix of geekiness, community and giving... he had us at “hello.”
As I sit here groggily typing these words, it now strikes me how brilliant Children’s Miracle Network was, engaging gamers (mostly young people) in fundraising by letting them do something they love and giving them some pretty cool incentives to do a good job at fundraising. Like many events of this nature, this one is built on our deeply ingrained desire for challenge, community, discovery and generosity.
The challenge of staying up 24 hours isn't a huge deal (at that age anyway) but finding games that you can play for that long certainly is. I played Portal, Portal 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 and The Room Three. Dustin flew a supersonic jet around the world in real time with a really sweet Microsoft Flight Simulator kit. One guy played Super Meat Boy, another played Spintires, another started a new character in World of Warcraft and spent the day levelling up. I saw a bunch of people playing Mario Cart and Goldeneye in the wee hours of the morning and there was a Mortal Combat (classic) competition at 6am.
Two things really stood out for me this weekend; gamers eat a lot more healthy food than I did back in the day (we had stocked up on junk food and pop but it hardly got touched), and they have a strong sense of community. One small example of that community: at 6:30am on Sunday morning Dustin landed his jet back in Vancouver and everybody gave him a standing ovation. My heart smiled.
Londoners showed us great support well beyond just Extra Life donations: people showed up all through the evening to keep us company and to chat, a representative from the Children’s Health Foundation visited on Saturday evening to thank us all for our support, members of Ellipsis visited with their pets and with replacement gaming gear, Gotham Studios showed up to take pictures of everyone and a very decent lad brought us homemade brownies.
Events like this are why I love having a space that we can share with the community.
What a weekend. What a perfect example of community.
… and my young heart smiles.
Shawn Adamsson is Chief Culture Officer and one of the founders of Ellipsis Digital and Engine SevenFour. He spends most of his time working with, learning from, and hanging around with a lot of smart, thoughtful, passionate people.