SpecialEffect, charity, video games, Arlo, boy, smiling

Rezzed 2017: volunteering for SpecialEffect

This year’s Rezzed event took place from 30 March to 01 April 2017, in the gorgeous Tobacco Dock venue in the east of London. Thousands of attendees had the opportunity to play hundreds of video games – many of which haven’t yet been released – and chat to the developers of these projects on the show floor.

Several members of our team were at the expo and as usual had an excellent time there. For half of it, I had the pleasure of volunteering on the stand for SpecialEffect: an amazing charity that helps people with physical disabilities play video games, using equipment such as modified controllers and eye-control technology. They do this work completely free-of-charge and it has a profoundly-positive effect on rehabilitation, confidence and inclusion.

Going into the event was still a slightly nerve-wracking experience despite volunteering twice in the past, because you never quite know what you’re going to face on the stand or the questions you’re going to be asked. I needn’t have worried though because I met some great people during my days there. I spoke to developers who wanted to know how they could assist the charity; voice-actors who offered to donate their time; students who were studying courses on accessibility in gaming; and gamers who hadn’t yet heard of SpecialEffect but wanted to help after visiting us.

Several interviews took place around the stand and you can watch one of them below. That annoying person who keeps clipping in on the left-hand side of the screen? That’s me!

The games on display this time were Abzu, played with a chin-controller and soft-touch buttons, and Towerfall Ascension played with a simplified control scheme and large buttons. I tried out the former before the event started and found it extremely insightful; it’s amazing how much we take our hands and reflexes for granted. As for the latter, I think I’ll leave that to the experts from now on – I got my butt thoroughly kicked by Becky from SpecialEffect and several visitors!

During a quick break on the first day, I made sure I visited the Excalibur Games area which was situated in the same room not far away from us. This awesome group have been extremely supportive: they’ve donated some fantastic items for our Wheel of Fortune and have given us two challenges for our Wheel of Forfeit (take a look at this post for more details). Whilst there I had a quick go on Jalopy and Pete tried his hand at Dad Quest, and based on how we did we’re going to need a bit more practice before our marathon stream

Thank you to Becky, Bill and Barrie from SpecialEffect. They made me feel so welcome and I had some really interesting conversations with them about the charity’s work; and it was obvious how much effort Becky had put into coordinating the stand. Hello to the other volunteers also – Dan, Emma, Daniel, Gemma, Scott, Cassie and Shaz – these lovely people all donated their time for free and were so friendly.

So that’s it for Rezzed event for another year: you can find out more about what happened at the event over on Later Levels. Our support for the charity isn’t over yet however. We’ll be starting our 72-hour gaming marathon at 16:00 GMT on Friday, 28 April 2017 and all money raised via our JustGiving page goes directly to SpecialEffect. You can watch us live on our Twitch channel – we hope to see you there!

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Since playing The Secret of Monkey Island as a kid, Kim has since been a huge fan of point-and-click adventures for over 25 years - as well as wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets. Find her on Twitter, Steam and PSN at @kissingthepixel.

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