Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Charity Wrap-up

I meant to post this sooner than I am (especially since our team finished Extra Life duties this year in November), but now is a great time to reflect on how successful our Extra Life campaign was this year.  As always we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our friends and families who donated to both Children's Medical Center and Our Lady of the Lake this year.  Our team does the fun stuff (play video games, bug people on social networks, etc.), but the real heroes are all of you who make sure the children we support are receiving much needed funds.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Now on to the numbers!

This year we took a different approach to the marathon.  For starters we supported two hospitals, since the majority of our donors are split across two states.  Secondly we had the entire team play from one location.  Both of these were meant to directly address some lessons learned from last year.  We still have some things to tweak (see lessons learned 2013 at the bottom of this post), but a lot went really well.

Last year (2012) we raised $590 for Children's Medical Center.  We had three team members all playing for the one hospital.  This year (2013) we raised $866 with a breakdown of $658 for Children's Medical Center and $208 for Our Lady of the Lake.  The really encouraging part about those numbers is that we did not sacrifice donors to Children's Medical Center in favor of Our Lady of the Lake.  We beat our total last year and were able to give to an additional hospital.  I cannot tell you how rewarding this is.  We initially had a goal set for $1,200, but a few avenues for donations that we pursued outside of our family and friend circle never really panned out.  I reduced the goal to $800, but luckily we were able to surpass that lowered goal.  We are slowly climbing towards $1,000 in a given year.

Our year over year total for donations rose $276 or roughly 147% of last year's total.  If we just look at Children's Medical Center, we increased our donations by $68 or 112% of last year's total.  Our Lady of the Lake has no comparison point, since it was a new hospital for us this year.  For now, thanks to all of you, we have raised a grand total of $1,456 over two years for the hospitals.

Next year we are considering a Spring marathon to support either Extra Life or additional charities.  I am still evaluating this.  I do not want to burn people out and lose donations for any one cause, but if we can manage two major events per year and raise money for both Extra Life and additional charities such as Child's Play or Operation Supply Drop, I would really love that.  I encourage everyone reading this to learn more about any of these great causes.

Last but not least we have this year's lessons learned.  For starters I have to apologize.  I was unaware of Twitch's archiving policy, and I did not cut any highlights from our live stream before the videos were removed.  The first big lesson learned is if we live stream on Twitch in the future, then I need to do a better job of moving some of the footage to YouTube or my local storage.  Luckily we also took a lot of pictures and some live video and shared to Facebook, but I know some people were hoping to see highlights from the stream.

Another lesson learned is make sure all games work as expected in advance.  I thought John and I could start up a local Left 4 Dead 2 multi-player session with minimal effort, but I was sorely mistaken.  It is a convoluted and confusing process to get multi-player for that game working on PC.  Sadly some of you may have seen a few minutes of angry streaming on Twitch as John and I were testing things.  Next year we will have to plan more suitable games that are also stream-able.  We also had to drag an old CRT TV into my office for the retro streams of Custom Robo and Super Mario Advance.  The TV was only outputting in black and white for us, but it worked.  I have a new monitor though for next year to assist in dual screening gameplay captured off of legacy systems.  We will try to make this a much bigger part of future marathons because everyone loved it (including the players).

Finally both John and I hit a wall of severe fatigue around 2AM - 3AM again this year, and frankly gunning caffeine is not sufficient to bust through it (nor is it very healthy).  Next year we are planning to pause the marathon at 2AM, sleep for several hours, and resume the marathon around 8AM following sleep.  That would mean we start at 8AM Saturday and roll until 2AM Sunday.  We then pick things back up at 8AM Sunday and roll until 2PM Sunday afternoon.  This would keep the players sane and much more healthy through the weekend.  It is fun to pull all-nighters, but it is also a chore to grind through the quiet hours of the night.

Thanks for reading through our 2013 marathon highlights.  We appreciate everyone who makes each marathon for charity such a wonderful experience and success, and we wish everyone a safe, relaxing, and happy holiday season.

See you in 2014.
- Scott

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