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Insert quarter for Extra Life

- October 20th, 2012

Extra Life 2012

If you have a charitable gamer in your life, you probably know this weekend marks the annual Extra Life fundraising drive, a 24-hour gaming marathon in support of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Tons of gamers, including myself and fellow Button Masher Matt Dykstra and his sprawling team of Edmonton-based players, will be playing games straight through from this morning until tomorrow morning to raise money for our chosen kids’ hospital charities. (I’m backing the SickKids Foundation, Matt and the Extra Life Edmonton crew are supporting the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.)

I’m about to get settled in for what could be a long day and night — I’ve got a nice big coffee and egg n’ peameal bacon sammich to get the engine running, and tons of food, caffeinated bevvies and Visine for later on. It’ll be fun, at first. But I have a feeling that even by this evening this is going to feel like a bad idea. And at 3 a.m…. well, we’ll stagger across that bridge when we get to it.

“But Steve,” you might be saying, “couldn’t you just pretend to play the games? Or take naps and update between them?” Well technically, yes. It is on an honour system. But that would be defeating the purpose of Extra Life. The kids being cared for by these hospitals have to go through things a million times worse than staying awake for 24 hours. And to not follow the spirit of the marathon would be letting down all the ridiculously generous people who have been donating. That’s how I see it, anyway.

So I’ll be chronicling my own Extra Life experience here — check back for hourly updates to this post (all times are Eastern Time), which I guarantee will become more and more incoherent as the night goes on.

Let the games begin!

Oct. 20, 10:00 a.m. Energy level: stoked

I talked to my homegirl Marissa Roberto (who started her Extra Life gaming at 8 a.m. — I delayed two hours to be in sync with my Edmonton friends and a few other Toronto late-starters), who is regretting kicking off with the weighty, slow-paced Skyrim. So I’m going to go for something bright, quick and energetic: Jet Set Radio, my all-time favourite Dreamcast game. (I considered hooking up the Dreamcast to play it, but I can’t resist the beautiful and up-rezzed Xbox Live version.) Gonna go lay some graffiti down on Neo-Tokyo, yo!

Oct. 20, 11:50 a.m. Energy level: chipper

Starting with Jet Set Radio might have been a bad idea. One day I will find the person who designed the game to have the graffiti spray control and camera centering control on the same trigger, and I will kick him directly in the nuts. On my third attempt trying to beat the Noise Reduction level — in which you have to chase three members of the Noise Tanks around Benten-cho and spray each of them 10 times — I got down to the last guy, who needed just one more spray to be defeated, and ran out of time. GRAAAAHHHH!!!!

Time to move onto something a little more sedate: Dishonored! After playing the game as a super-stealthy ghost-like assassin, I want to see what it’s like to be a wanton badass, shooting, slicing and magicking my way through Dunwall.

Jet Set Radio

Note to self: Return to Jet Set Radio later when frustration-induced adrenaline will come in handy to combat fatigue.

Oct. 20, 1:21 p.m. Energy level: Crampy

I realize now the hard part about gaming for 24 hours won’t be staying up all night so much as not being able to take a break for an hour to go outside or do something else. Luckily Dishonored has its hooks in me again, but I think my next game will have to be something Kinect or Move-enabled, just to have an excuse to stand up and stretch them limbs!

Oct. 20, 2:24 p.m. Energy level: Merciful

I still can’t bring myself to unnecessarily murder bad guys in Dishonored. Especially when it’s so much fun to choke guards out and dump them in a bathtub.

Dishonored bathtime

This will be a very awkward conversation when they wake up.

Oct 20, 3:51 p.m. Energy level: All systems go

Took a potty break and made some Words With Friends moves whilst on the john. That’s how dedicated I am to the spirit of Extra Life!

Oct. 20, 5:04 p.m. Energy level: Declining, slightly

On a normal and especially lazy Saturday — something which itself is pretty rare these days — this would be the point where I look up and say, “Oh man, I’ve been playing games all day. Time to go for a walk, do some work, clean the house… anything but stare at a TV.” Unfortunately, I’m not even at the 1/3 mark yet.

Still soldiering on through Dishonored and finding lots of stuff I missed before. I especially like using the heart to listen to people’s secrets. Who knew so many courtesans at the Golden Cat still had their childhood rag dolls!

Oct. 20, 6:13 p.m. Energy level: First wall hit

As much as I love exploring the city of Dunwall, it’s time to change it up. ‘Cause if I don’t get up and get moving soon, my hands are going to become rigid claws on my Xbox controller.

Time to jump on the PS3, bust out the Move controller and play some Sports Champions. Specifically bocce and disc golf, as they’re the two games I always play with my buddies when we have our beers n’ games nights. And any amount of practice I can get in behind their backs will serve to ensure my domination.

Disc golf

Fantastic form. She’s even got her pinky properly bent.

 Oct. 20, 8:12 p.m. Energy level: Adrenalized

My buddy Dan agreed to play some Uncharted 3 online multiplayer, which is very good news — between the chatting and the adrenaline rush of fighting dudes online, my alertness is back up. Feeling a bit punchy tho, which does not bode well for later on. The wee hours are gonna be tough.

Oct. 20, 10:14 p.m. Energy level: Flagging

At the halfway mark the Uncharted 3 multiplayer continues, though my eyes be burnin’, my throat be scratchin’ and my brain be laggin’ behind the action. Before much longer I’ll be a liability to my teammates. Sorry guys! It’s for the children!

Uncharted 3

Taking aim at another 12 hours of gaming. Oh boy.

Oct. 21, 12:01 a.m. Energy level: Serene

After a few solid hours of Uncharted 3 online, it’s time for a quick Advil and eyedrops break, plus maybe a snack. Then it’s back to Sports Champions and virtual bocce (don’t judge, it’s really a lot of fun), because if I don’t keep switching to games that require getting up and moving a bit, the couch imprint on my butt will become permanent.

Oct. 21, 2:14 a.m. Energy level: Second wind

Several matches of Sports Champions bocce seems to have done the trick. Hells, I won one game with a closest shot of 0.00 feet. I’ve never even seen that before!

Bocce king

Closest shot: zero feet. Bow to your bocce overlord.

This is the 2/3 mark, meaning eight hours to go, and I feel fine. Definitely a second wind going on, and I’m going to ride it as long as possible. I’m thinking it might be time for some Hitman: Absolution — I’m lucky enough to have a preview disc with the first five levels of the game (coming out Nov. 20), and from what I’ve seen so far it looks amazing. And not just because Agent 47 is a sauve bald dude. Though that might have something to do with it.

Oct. 21, 4:19 a.m. Energy level: Running on reserves

Instead of firing up Hitman, I decided to try a little Just Cause 2 action. I’ve put a little over 50 hours into the game since its release in early 2010, and I’m still less than half done, according to the running completion tally. (Specifically, I’m at 43.31% complete. And the fact that the game measures completion to the 100th of a percent tells you just how much stuff there is to do in it.) It remains once of the best open-world action games ever.

But man, I am tired. So very, very tired. The second wind is gone, and the third wind is nowhere in sight. Eyes are sore, yawns are unstoppable. But if Extra Life was easy, there wouldn’t be much point to it, would there?

I think it’s time to switch to the iPad and try the latest episode of the excellent The Walking Dead game. Mainly because I can really identify with the zombies.

The Walking Dead

Zombie lady, I know exactly how you feel.

Oct. 21, 5:47 a.m. Energy level: Drained

Still hammering away at Just Cause 2. I fear if I start playing an iPad game I’ll be tempted to lie down whilst playing. And that will spell the end. Also, I fear it has come to this:

Red Bull

Give me wings. I beg of you. All the wings.

Oct. 21, 8:05 a.m. Energy level: Running on fumes

Down to the final two hours, I’m trying to find a game that’s both interesting enough to keep my brain alert and occupied but not too complex, because my fine motor control and overall comprehension is getting worse by the hour. Peggle maybe?

Oct. 21, 10:00 a.m. Energy level: Irrelevant!

And that is that! I really want to say something wise and insightful and meaningful, but my brain has been jellied. Gaming for 24 hours straight was more difficult than I thought it would be, and yet somehow it all went by quicker than I’d imagined. (For the record, I went back to Dishonored in the end. The game’s adaptive pace and save-anywhere feature made it a good fit for a tired mind.)

Thanks SO much to everyone who supported the cause and donated to the SickKids Foundation. I ended up with a total of $1,337 (thanks to a last-minute $9 donation by my buddy Kyle — who was also the very first person to donate — to get to that very ‘leet total), which is far more than I’d hoped for. It was tough, but not even a fraction as tough as what the kids who are supported by these hospitals have to go through. And now: SLEEP.

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