Train2Game News: A visit to Special Effect

Kirsty Payne from SpecialEffectI had the great pleasure of going to visit SpecialEffect at its headquarters in Oxford on Wednesday. The charity held a get together to thank supporters for their work during the Art Charity Auction back in December.

As I arrived at the building I was struck by how incredible it looked. I drove up a long road, flanked by trees all the way up to a Manor building where SpecialEffect is housed. I parked around the back and entered the easily accessible building where I was met by Hannah Whittaker, who works at SpeciaEffect.

As I entered the office I was greeted by Gavin Tan, who is a developer for the charity. I chatted with Gavin for a bit about games, that is the reason we are in this industry, and he then showed me some of the controllers they use to help disabled people to be able to play games.

The first controller I tried was the “EyeGaze”. This is a device which tracks your eye movements and lets you do all the things you want on a computer using nothing but your eye movement. Following a quick calibration I got to play racing game, Dirt. To control the vehicle you moved your eyes to the top of the screen to go faster, to the bottom of the screen to brake and reverse and direct your eyes left or right to turn. I am normally terrible at racing games but using the EyeGaze I managed an average time which pleased me!

Following on from the EyeGaze I got to experience voice activated controls in Street Fighter. A control was set up which is used for movement and can be controlled by your chin with a sensitive microphone for the voice commands. The commands were simple like “Punch” for an uppercut, “Kick” for a spinning kick and “Move” to do a Hadouken.

Seeing and experiencing these controllers for myself really showed me how helpful these can be for people trying to get back in to gaming and back playing games on a level playing field. It truly is an amazing thing that the people at SpecialEffect do.

Over the next half an hour several games industry people turned up to the office for the event. There were people there from Sega, Warner Bros, and Take-two. Once everyone had arrived it was time for the main event.

Everyone was welcomed to the event by Kirsty Payne, a Vice President of SpecialEffect, who can be seen in the picture above. She gave a quick run down of the event in December. The art auction featured games art from across the industry and was held at the London City Hall and was visited by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The auction managed to raise over £30,000!

The floor was then given over to Dr Mick Donegan, founder of SpecialEffect, who showed where the money will be going and who is being helped.

After the presentation SpecialEffect offered us drink and food. It was lovely just being able to talk with some of the games industry people who do so much for our industry and hearing their opinions on the games industry at the moment.

It was an incredible day and I will continue to do what I can for this amazing Charity! I will leave you with this amazing video of a young man called Alex who has been able to play games again and has used Special Effects help to be able to become a Train2Game student!


Train2Game News: Art exhibition raises over £21,000 for SpecialEffect

Death of the JokerTrain2game has been told that the London games festival Art Exhibition has raised over £21,000 as the auction enters the final stages.

The art exhibition was held to raise money for the charity, SpecialEffect who help many people with disabilities to be able to play their favourite games with their friends and family.

Some of the pieces of art that are on sale include the stunning Joker’s Death concept sketch from Batman: Arkham City, a fantastic New Super Mario Bros composite, and a huge signed Football Manager 2013 canvass.

As it stands at the moment it looks like the auctions are going to make over £25,000 for the charity which will help them to help more people to play games.

Kirsty Payne, event director of the London Games Festival where the exhibition is taking place said “The response has been overwhelming! The exhibition attracted a huge amount of interest whilst it was being held – but even we have been astonished by the amount people are pledging for these wonderful and rare pieces of art. We’ve just unveiled the final batch of exhibits to go under the hammer, so there’s just over a week left to win a stunning one-of-a-kind exhibit, make someone’s Christmas even more special – and donate to a wonderful charity.“

Mick Donegan, SpecialEffect CEO said “Our huge thanks go to Kirsty Payne, her team and every single artist and software house for making this wonderful idea a reality. It has made an amazing and instant impact on our work. Earlier today I saw a blog from a guy with muscular dystrophy we assessed near Liverpool just a couple of days ago: ‘…Just had a meeting with SpecialEffect fantastic charity – will make a huge difference in the quality of my life – need to raise the funds for my controller and some for others less fortunate…’ Well, this much-needed boost to SpecialEffect’s funds not only means we’ll be able to buy that special loan controller for Lee right now but also for the many of the others he talks about too. Just as important, we’ll be able to take on more specialist time to help with our essential assessment and support work, too. For the people that SpecialEffect help, both right now and into the future, there really couldn’t be a more welcome Christmas present!”

The London Games Festival art auction is running through until December 12 and you can check out some of the art by visiting

You can continue to help SpecialEffect by watching and sharing the video below and help them reach their target of 25,000 views by Christmas day!

Train2Game news: London Games Festival returns later this year

Train2Game students have the opportunity to take part in a month long celebration of gaming culture when The London Games Festival returns later this year.

The event runs from 27th September to 28th October and will feature exhibitions, game launches, career fairs, educational summits and more. The London Games Festival is being directed by Kirsty Payne, with the last festival in 2010 attracting 75,000 people to 26 events.

“London Games Festival is a real focus for UKIE this year,” says event director Kirsty Payne. “We’re looking to unite the whole industry in a month-long celebration of games and gaming culture, and expect this to be the biggest LGF to date.”

“Anyone can host an event under the London Games Festival banner – so we’re looking forward to getting the capital playing together and celebrating the culture of games from September 27th”she concluded.

“UKIE is delighted to be spearheading  the London Games Festival and it’s the perfect opportunity to bring together and showcase all elements of the interactive entertainment  industry including, education and skills, accessibility, government, talent, innovation and above all, fun events for anyone who likes to play games.” added UKIE CEO Jo Twist, who was a mentor at Train2Game and Epic Game’s recent Make Something Unreal Live contest.

Keep reading the Train2Game Blog for the latest information about The London Games Festival and other interesting events.

What are your thoughts on the return of London Games Festival?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.