ExtraLife Gameathon 2016 – Team Bombshelter

Well, first off, the final numbers aren’t in yet but:

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Yeah. Given that we’re a Canadian team, and that’s in US Dollars? I’m incredibly happy, and proud of my team. Seriously, they all come together at the last minute, and it just works. And they’re brutally generous with both their time and money.

That’s also not the end of the story, either. I’m currently sitting on about $325 Canadian in cash donations from the day-of (we keep a donation bucket).

And finally, if you’re so inclined, you can donate until December 31st, 2016. Just click right about here, and we thank you. Please, remember that this is in aid of CHEO (the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario), so,if you’re Ottawa, Kingston, that kind of area, and have, or know kids, chances are, someone you know will make use of CHEO’s services at some time. It’s a great cause, and we’re always happy to try to help them out in some small way.

So, the event itself!

I must admit, I had some trepidation going into it. It’s been … All round it’s been a rough year – I’ve had a lot going on at work, and personally, and I’m exhausted. So, it was tough to organize this year, and I almost didn’t bother. Almost. But, I had some concerns that we were going to get a super small turn out (we didn’t) that donations were gonna be tough (they weren’t) and that maybe the events time had passed for us (it hasn’t).

Call it a minor crisis of faith.

Well, I did the traditional lessons learned – We sold our pool table (that came with the house when we bought it) last winter, so that opened up a ton of space in the basement. That really made the PC gamers a lot more comfortable (And a lot more comfortable than they deserve! Basement trolls, every one of them). I picked up a couple of sets of folding table LEGS, and built two more “door tables” to provide as much space as I could, and that left us with an extra tabletop space surrounded by bookcases (which was actually really nice, the ambience was pretty great!) The network was strung from the ceiling like a spiderweb (main connection to gigabit switch, out to a gigabit switch on each set of two tables). I actually planned the layout of the house for the event on paper this year, and had myself an honest-to-god checklist, rather than just doing it all in my head. And, it all appears to have worked out fairly well.

So, speaking of that house layout, this is what we had:

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The living room – aka “Xbox Alley”. All consoles, all the time. Three years ago, this would have been the primary hub of activity, this year, not so much. We did have some bodies out sick, though, which made a big difference. Even so, our console division dropped off, which is interesting to note (also, smaller screens showing up this year, with the exception of my own, more on that later).

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Like I said, my own TV was the exception. In the dining room, I took over: That’s 65″ of 4k love – It’s my house, dammit, I’ll play the way I want to. I also knew I was going to have a huge set-up, anyway, because of my racing rig. What you see in front of you was: Xbox360, Xbox:One, Logitech G920 racing wheel/pedals/shifter, LED backlighting on the TV from the powerbar (those are AWESOME), and my Republic of Gamers G571 laptop. I was all set to play pretty much anything. Next to it was @pingoderp’s Xbox360, which basically got used for Portal.

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Family room was a general congregation area, and Rockband/DJ Hero. I was surprised at the turnout for the Rockbanding. Very good though. And the SumoSac’s were, as always, well loved by the kids for flopping out and spending time on mobile gaming, and Nintendo DS.

Basement. I wasn’t kidding. This is where the PC Master Race is shunned… I mean, situated.

Tabletop room 1!


Tabletop room 2!

I ended up not involved (for obvious reasons) but for a number of reasons, we tried a “PokeWalk” – a couple of the parents (primarily organized by @Yumi Kiddo) took a number of the kids to Carleton University to do a few hours of Pokemon Go. It does sound like it went well, and definitely helped us at the house, because it lowered the crush of kids running around for the afternoon (our highest volume of bodies is about noon to 9pm, and it can be a distinct “crush” of people in a relatively small space). I get the impression this went very well, but may have been a horde of babbling kids tearing at the nerves of a couple of parents *grin*

Lessons learned? Always.

  • the couch in the family room can’t be on the west wall – kids would jump onto it, and bump the wall-socket network cable, taking everyone out down in the basement
  • Rockband, even on a smaller scale, is still a success – IF it’s separated from all the other gaming, because it’s loud, and not everyone wants to listen to it
  • upgrading the connection (from 27/3 to 60/10 made a huge difference, and no one had any issues beyond the bumping from the couch).
  • consoles have dropped off, tabletop has grown hugely, and PC gaming staged a notable increase
  • it remains a huge amount of work to set up. Like…. a lot.

    How much? Well, take a look at the pictures, and you see what goes into the rooms. We move furniture around. the networking consists of eight gigabit switches, and somewhere around 700 feet of Cat5e. Four of those switches were new this year. We upgraded the connection, as noted, and that costs money. Ok, sure, I wanted that too but. There’s the hydro – November is our biggest month of the year for obvious reasons. It’s about an extra fifty percent of our monthly bill, for that weekend. Food, that we lay in, beyond what other people generously provide.

    And mostly… time. It takes A LOT of time to set up, tear down, organize, lead, and fundraise for. Probably 130 hours of pure, physical set-up and tear-down, plus time talking to people about the event, what we’re doing, how we’re doing it.

    This is the thing. We’ve now done this for five years. And it IS a lot of work. And early on this year, it was somewhat disenchanting to see the… lack of enthusiasm. And I know, times get tough and get better and we have good years and bad years.

    But, what I know at this point is, to turn the house into a charity fun-house (which is really what we do) for about eighty people coming and going (which is about what we have) costs me. Well, us. It costs money – I spend about $200/year now – it was more three years ago, but now we’re down to just replacing broken/obsolete things, and any hardware needed. It costs time as noted.

    But you know what?

    It’s still worth it. It really is. The event comes together, it’s really fun, we have a great time, there are some great moments, and once we’re doing it, I’m reminded of just how awesome the people I’ve surrounded myself with, are. I’m incredibly fortunate. And that good fortune is one of the reasons we still do it, despite the work, the frustration, and the inconvenience. Because we can, and it is just work, frustration, and inconvenience, and we can deal with that.

    Because at the end of the day, we do something good, and that’s really worth it. Especially right now.

    So, will we do it again?

    Well, at five years? Yeah, we’re totally going to. I’m not completely sure what form it’ll take. We may have some other options for a location coming up. Something that would really take the pressure off us in terms of the intrusion of the event into our home for weeks. I’d miss having the event at home, for sure, but it’s grown to a point now that it may really not be viable to keep doing it at home. However, a bunch of other stuff will have to come together for that to work, too.

    Cryptic much? 😀

    At the end of the day, we do it for CHEO, and I think we do an amazing job. I haven’t heard what the numbers are for fundraisers for Ottawa, for CHEO specifically, but we are regularly near the top. Which means we really are doing something good for the world, and for our community.

    Pretty much every parent we know has made use of CHEO’s facilities at some point or another, and those that haven’t? Likely will. It’s that kind of facility.

    So, one more time, with feeling, if you want to drop a few bucks, it would be hugely appreciated. Just click that link up there at the top. You know the one. Go on. Click it. You know you wanna. Makes you feel good. Doooo iiit.

    Seriously, if you’d thought about it, but didn’t get around to it, now’s the time! so, please do, if you can.

    And yeah, we’ll probably be back next year.

    But for the moment, I’ll leave it with this. I’m wicked proud of my team. Players, fund raisers, donators, all. All amazing. Thank you again Team Bombshelter, you’re awesome, and I don’t do this by myself.

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  • [EXTRA-LIFE.ORG GAMEATHON] Update – T-41 Days

    So, I’m gonna do this pretty regularly, it’s a good way to keep track of OMG WHY THE FUCK DID I DO THIS AGAIN?

    Right now, Team Bombshelter is a team of seven, although it sounds like eight by this evening, so I’m gonna count it as eight.

    Again, @blingdomepiece is bringing his epic Rockband set-up. This is his thing.

    We have, tentatively-for-sure, four drivers so far for what is going to be, I suspect, a 12-hour race, not a 24-hour race. Logistically, the 24-hour race is tough. We’ll see though.

    The drivers are:

    Me, your humble host, driving a nearly-ready 2010 3.8L Genesis Coupe (B499 class)
    Colton, Car unknown
    Kendra, Car unknown
    Melissa, driving a currently-sitting-in-the-garage 1985 1.6L Chevrolet Chevette, which will eventually be a high-B-class car

    I need more drivers.

    The Senatron Will, I assume, be gaming from home, because eighteen-month-old twins.

    @BambiBlue will again be killing everyone on Team Fortress 2, or something similar. I think she may have a Durham Basterds Compatriot in this, however. We’ll see.

    @Chaos_introvert will be… I have no idea what he’ll be doing. But he’ll be doing SOMETHING, dammit.

    wHAT i GOTTA start doing is sourcing equipment. I’m trying to get hold of both xboxes, and TV’s. We need to have enough to run FORZA 4 for everyone who’s racing, and extras for “the others”, plus HALO at least later in the evening (espeically if we only run a 12-hr race).

    IF anyone reading this can loan us an xbox, TV, copy of Forza 4, Copy of HALO 1 re-release, leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you. This same plea will be going out on FB, Twitter, and Google+.

    Repeatedly.

    Also, if I have mentioned it?

    Make a donation to the effort! I need your money, FOR THE CHILDREN.

    [GAMING] Extra-Life.org 24-hour Gameathon – Plan Version 2

    Well, this is getting crazy.

    Right now, it looks like we have the previously mentioned ultimate rockband set-up happening.

    Additionally, I’m setting up at least one table, possibly two, for PC gamers.  At least one person is bringing their desktop rig, three or four are bringing their own Alienware laptops, and it appears we may get to borrow some machines directly from Alienware.  WTF??  How does THAT happen?

    The xbox thing continues to grow, I think.  The three are guaranteed, with a 32″, 42″, and 47″ TV to run ’em on.  We may also have another 42″ TV showing up, in which case, I think the second 42″ will join the 47″ and first 42″, and the 32″ will go upstairs with the Wii, where there will be a MarioKart Tournament.

    Problem now is, where do we plug all this stuff in?

    And the problem is solved by the arrival of at least one, but possibly two 8-port switches, an additional router, and… Hunh. I guess I need to see if we’ve got enough CABLE for all this, too, although I’m sure a bunch of the PC’s will be able to hit the wireless just fine.

    It also occurs to me I’m gonna need a ‘charging station’ area for people’s phones/tablets, etc.

    On top of all that, we’re now sitting in the “closing on $1000” range in donations for the team, so if I might respectively bug anyone who’s reading, once more, for a donation? I’d LOVE to see the team break that threshold, with only three weeks of fundraising.

    marks donation page

    Or, you can go to the Team’s page, and make a donation to anyone of the team members: team bombshelter donation page

    As of this writing, we’re at $661 showing.  HOwever, Jeremy “The Senatron” Strydonck got in costume last weekend and wandered around downtown soliciting small-change donations.  He came up with a hundred and thirty bucks.  I also know I have at least another hundred bucks coming in donations, as long as everyone who’s promised a donation makes one.  That puts the team around nine hundred dollars (and semi-officially at $791).

    With four days left to go, I’m CERTAIN we can break a grand.

    WON’T YOU THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

    Here’s A Thing I Want To Do For My Birthday.

    Birthdays have gotten more and more mellow the last few years. For me, I don’t really even care that much. It’s a day, right? What I do care about, more, is that if we do something, I get to see my friends. Now, as you should know by now, my friends are a fairly diverse bunch: gamers, car geeks, nerds of all stripes and colors. That’s a good thing. Everyone should be a nerd about something.
    And, by now, you should be aware that I’m a nerd of several flavors. I’m a book nerd, a car nerd, a gamer, an occasional costumer, and a photographer. Those are all geeky pursuits.

    But, I’m also a drinker, and I’ve been a partier and, yes, even a frat boy. Although that was mostly to show that anyone could be. And there was beer.
    So, here’s my birthday. Thirty-Nine. And I’m all of these things.

    What I want to do is a little charity work. A little organization called Extra Life is running a charity for Children’s Hospitals. It just so happens that the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario is on the list of hospitals you can select to donate to.

    What do you have to do, you ask?

    Well, you have to game for twenty-four hours. Portable, mobile, xbox, PS3, Nintendo, whatever. Twenty-four hours of gaming, and go get some pledges.
    I’m thinking that the old Bombshelter crew, and our newer compatriots, should take up this mantle. I think we should raise a few bucks for the Children’s hospital, by playing some video games. And, lets face it, probably getting drunk. We already raise funds and donate them when we do the PokéCrawl at Pax East in Boston, and that money goes to the very similarly oriented Childs Play charity.

    See, Extra Life doing this on three seperate days. One of them is Saturday October the 20th. That’s three days before my birthday. Perfect. Serendipitous, even.

    @dogandgarden and I have two TV’s and two functional xboxes in the house. With a little effort, I bet we could make that three of each (borrowing, not buying). Add the network in general in-house, and XBL, and We’re pretty much set to be the perfect storm of drunken idiocy.

    I’m thinking play through the entire HALO story in one weekend? Maybe have a race-room running Forza4? Or, can we get in-house LAN running for some Borderlands2 multiplayer?

    Hell, there’s always…. HYYYYDROOOOOOOO THUNNNNDERRRRR!

    So, I’m gonna throw this out there to the crew. If there’s interest, I’ll put a team together. Then we gotta raise $200. That’s where anyone who’s NOT involved can help. I’m pretty sure there’ll be a team link you can donate to. And if you donate via ours, well, Ok. you’re not going to get anything.

    Except you can feel good knowing you helped out the kids. And won’t someone think about the children?

    Seriously though, forget the children. Think of me. Help me play video games all weekend on my birthday.