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3 mistakes to avoid when preparing for a charity game marathon

It's easy to miss big problems while planning the details of a game marathon - don't make these mistakes!

Like many, many people out there, my friends and I got together to participate in Extra Life's annual 24-hour game marathon this past Saturday (go team Trifarce!). While I've already covered some tips to help make marathons like it go a bit more smoothly - some of which I managed to implement better than others - I left out what to do during a crucial time: the days and months leading up to the marathon.

I made mistakes during this period. So many mistakes. It may be too late for me, but you can still save yourselves! Just come along on a magical journey with me through the Sea of Mistakes so you know how to navigate it in the future.

Waiting to test your stream until the last minute

I can't possibly emphasize this one enough. It may seem obvious to test your streaming setup before the big day, but it's easy to think "Oh, there's more time." The time is now. There may never be more time. Even veteran streamers will have some bugs every now and then, and it's much better to catch them days or weeks in advance than it is to fiddle with things in the middle of the marathon.

This one is definitely the most frustrating screw-up I made. Right up to the very morning the marathon began, I struggled with a stubborn sound problem that threatened to render my stream completely useless. I was terrified I'd have to forgo the stream altogether, which would have been unfair to the donors who wanted to see me struggle through games of their choosing. It was only by sheer luck that I found a solution, and the whole thing added a lot of unnecessary stress to the day.

Assuming the funds will raise themselves

Again, this seems like another obvious one; after all, isn't raising money for charity the whole point? But you have to be really diligent about fundraising. You can't just do one post on Facebook and expect that to take care of things. Some people might not see the first post, or the second, or the third, but what if they see the fourth and decide to donate? Or what if they can't donate the moment they see the first post and need to be reminded? There are a lot of potential reasons why just one or two posts might not be enough; you have to be persistent and consistent.

Again, this was one of my biggest mistakes. At the outset I planned to make at least one post a week for the few weeks leading up to game day, but that fell by the wayside when I became busy with other things. If it wasn't for teammates tagging me in their statuses about the event, I might not have gotten any donations at all.

Forgetting to stretch your gaming muscles

It's a sad fact that many of us don't have as much time to play games as we'd like, due to other obligations like school or work. It may have been months or years since any of us were able to just sit down and play a game for several hours at a time.

If this describes you, try to make time for at least one long-ish gaming session before the day of the marathon, so you can get back into the swing of things. While a game marathon is nowhere near as physically demanding as a running marathon, it's still a good idea to "get in shape" at least a little bit before you try to sit down in front of a screen for almost a full day straight.

While I tried to practice at least a little bit in the weeks leading up to the marathon, doing so made me quickly realize that I'm not a kid anymore. I don't mean that in reference to the crushing knowledge that every moment alive draws me one step closer to the icy grip of death. When I was 9 or 10 I could attach myself to my N64 for hours on end without losing focus or stamina, but during my recent practice sessions I discovered that I could barely get through two hours before wanting to call it quits - even while playing one of my favorite games of all time. Gaming for 24 hours straight was draining, to say the least.

So please, don't make the same mistakes I did. The only way we can do better is by learning from our own mistakes - or at least laughing at someone else's.

What do you think? Have you made any similar mistakes while preparing for a game marathon? Am I simply a hopeless noob who has no business doling out advice? Let us know in the comments!

Published Nov. 8th 2015

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