Game On: Extra Life 2011

On October 15th at 8am, for my second year in a row I’m going to fire up my Xbox and embark on the Long Road I call Extra Life:  24 hours of gaming in the name of charity.  I’m sure that once more, around the 18th consecutive hour of my unblinking eyes being seared by the merciless television, I will pause and wonder just what the hell got me thinking this was a great idea.  And the answer will be as simple as it is cliché.

It’s for the kids.

I never considered myself to be particularly charitable.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t curse Girls Scouts when I have to dodge around them at the grocery store as they peddle their boxes of baked goods, nor do I speak derisively of the groups of people I occasionally see cleaning up a park, not at all.  I was just like most folk, long on the concept of doing good deeds and way short on the execution.  Throwing a $20 each December into the bucket of the poor Salvation Army volunteers freezing their butts off in the negative-lots-plus-windchill of a Michigan winter was about my limit.

“Do you want to join us to (insert activity here) at (insert location here) for the cause?”  Not particularly, no.  Anything centered on the idea of running/walking/biking/etc for a cause were non-starters.  Mostly due to the fact they’d require physical activity in an outdoor setting, neither factor being geared for opening any of the altruistic valves in my psyche.  Then last year I stumbled across an article on mentioning the Extra Life program.  Suddenly, I had before me a charity for a cause I could get behind, and all (“all”) I had to do was get my game on for 24 hours straight.  Straightforward, simple, and involves an activity I’m not naturally averse to.  Ladies and gentlemen, we got ourselves a ball game.

The first thing to catch my attention was the tie-in with the Children’s Miracle Network.  Ok, this takes care of the “cause” variable in the equation.  The other side to that coin is the involvement of the Osmonds, whom even in passing reference cause me blinding pain and intense gastrointestinal distress.  But for the sake of the children, I’ll deal.


Though most people who know me would flatly refuse to believe this, I like kids.  Children are quite literally the future;  not yet exposed to the life experiences that cause so many of us to become hardened, cynical bastards, and as such they still believe in wonders and innocence.  Frankly they’re the only hope for the planet given how adults like myself are completely screwing things up.  I have immense respect for the potential children represent, and it grabs me by the heart strings and yanks to see one suffering yet still have the heart to smile.  They’ve done nothing to deserve the trials they endure, and I think it perfectly natural for a person to bare their teeth and growl like Cerberus himself at the fate which would inflict this.  The question being, what the hell does a person with no special skills and limited means do about it?

Play games for 24 hours or damn well pass out in the trying, that’s what.

Which is more or less what happened last year.  I signed up, collected my target of $700, and got to it.  But something strange happened.  Somewhere around 5am on October 17th, between matches on Halo: Reach while wishing my eyes wouldn’t hurt so much and listening to my wrists crack, I discovered it can take over two hours to blink.  This revelation left me quite astounded and ashamed.  Despite my best intentions, I didn’t make it for 24 hours.  I failed to take common sense precautions and preparations for the task and my body – perhaps from lack of movement or  in protest of the red bull I was consuming and jerky I had for dinner – simply shut down.  Another mistake was my belief that I could conquer the mountain alone.  With no companions to goad me along and help keep sleep at bay, it was too great a contest to fend off the Sandman and the S.O.B. ambushed me between rounds of Invasion.  While I did what I felt was an admirable job raising funds, I fell flat in my symbolic attempt to honor the struggle these kids go through.  That will not be happening again.  For a couple reasons:

1) Deus Ex: Human Revolution will most likely have just a wee bit of replay value left in it.  Just a guess though.  Eidos said somewhere it’ll take about 12 hours for a playthrough.  Good, I’ll have 24 to spare!

2)Warhammer 40k: Space Marine multiplayer I’m betting will still be a live wire and it’ll be tough to nod off when trying to dodge someone flying around on a jetpack while waving a chainsword about.  Also by this point the 5 man (5 man?) campaign co-op patch should be live.  Also, the fact a person could spend about 5 hours alone just customizing their character makes this a tempting choice.

3)Dark Souls will have dropped about 10 days before Extra Life (go ahead and delay it From Software, I dare you), and will not care if I am weary.  It will draw pleasure from my weakness.  Indeed, the thought of engaging it in battle for 24 straight hours causes me to shudder, though in ecstasy or fear, I cannot say.

Most importantly, I will rely on you, gentle readers.  Family and friends will do their part, for a certainty, but you will be the ones peppering me with invites (XBL GT: Chamber 52).  You are the ones who will be chasing me about a multiplayer map in Space Marine, flailing about with a chainsword while screaming “Come on Chamber!  It’s for the kids!“.  You are the ones who will cause Dark Souls to inform me my realm has been invaded.  You are the ones who, as fellow gamers, truly understand the trial and will help me slog through the small hours and bring me to the end of the road.

And if you want to throw a few coins into my bucket while you’re at it, that works too.

October 15th, 8am.  Extra Life 2011.  Game On.

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