Train2Game News Schafer supporting One Special Day


​Tim Schafer, critically acclaimed games designer and Founder of Double Fine Productions, has backed SpecialEffect’s tenth anniversary One Special Day fundraiser with a video call-to-action to the games industry.
Schafer, a Vice-President of the charity that helps some of the world’s most severely disabled people enjoy the fun and inclusion of video games, has urged other CEOs and decision makers in the video games industry to follow his lead and get behind the One Special Day initiative.

Leading names from the industry such as EA, SEGA, Twitch, Seriously and Humble Bundle are amongst the companies that have already backed SpecialEffect and One Special Day. Many more are expected to follow suit in the run up to the event on Friday 29th September.

SpecialEffect, widely known as the gamers’ charity, is supported by gamers and gaming communities all over the world. One Special Day is an opportunity for the industry to stand with those who play their games and build on the £100,000 raised in February by gamers in the SpecialEffect ‘GameBlast’ event.

Dr Mick Donegan, Founder and CEO of SpecialEffect said, “It is just brilliant to have the backing of Tim for One Special Day with this video message. We are hugely grateful for all the support he gives to SpecialEffect and very much hope other companies will join Tim and Double Fine in backing this crucial fundraising event.”

SpecialEffect is asking for games companies to give their revenue on specific games or in-game purchases on 29th September, provide rare/collectible items or experiences for a special eBay auction or stage a fundraising event of their own to support the charity.

Nick Streeter, SpecialEffect fundraiser leading the One Special Day initiative said, “This is an opportunity for the games industry to back their players in making games a force for good. We’ve made it easy for companies to get involved at whatever level they wish. We already have some huge companies commit to One Special Day and we warmly welcome those who follow suit and provide us with the means to reach more disabled gamers in the year to come.”

For more details on how your company can get involved in One Special Day, please contact Nick Streeter on +44 (0)1608 810055 or at nick@specialeffect.org.uk or look for the #OneSpecialDay hashtag across social media (www.onespecialday.org.uk )

https://youtu.be/TJi6FTLHACs

Train2Game News GamesAid record breaking fund raising year

PrintGamesAid, the UK video games industry’s charity, distributed the monies raised in 2013-2014 by its members, friends and supporters at a special cheque-giving ceremony during the Eurogamer Expo at London’s Earls Court.

GamesAid also made several announcements about its record fundraising achievements for 2014 as well as unveiling a brand new comedy fundraising event at the Manchester Comedy Store on October 20th.

“2014 has been a massive year for GamesAid,” said GamesAid Chair, Stuart Dinsey “We’ve raised more money, supported more charities and distributed bigger individual cheques than ever before.”

The outgoing Chair continued, “As I step down after my three year tenure as Trustee and Chair I think I can safely say that GamesAid has never been stronger, better supported, or more able to make a real difference to the lives of kids and young people through the charities we support – it’s a great thing to be a part of and I encourage anyone involved in the video games industry to become a member today by signing up at www.gamesaid.org.”

Each year members of GamesAid nominate and vote to decide on the good causes that receive charity funding. Those charities gaining the highest number of votes receive an equal share of all the monies raised. In previous years the organisation has supported four or five charities, but this year GamesAid has expanded its reach with seven supported charities each receiving for £62,571 – the highest individual amounts GamesAid has ever raised.

A total of £438,000 was raised in 2013-4, bringing cumulative funds raised by the charity’s loyal supporters since it was established in 2007 to £1.2 million. The charities receiving the funding during the moving London ceremony were Special Effect, Lifelites, Action for Kids, Jigsaw4U, Safe at Last, Accuro and MAPS.

In addition to meeting the due diligence requirements of GamesAid, this diverse range of charities had two key things in common: they all work tirelessly to support children and young people in the UK, and all struck a nerve with GamesAid Members – who voted in even greater numbers than last year.

GamesAid’s patron, Imran Yusuf stated “Since the voting process closed on Thursday 11th September and the votes were counted, the Trustees have been informing the successful charities about the news. This is one of the most rewarding activities that GamesAid’s trusty volunteers get involved in each year – all the more given we’re supporting seven charities this year.” He added , “Those charities that didn’t quite make the grade shouldn’t be disheartened – it’s worth reapplying and lobbying next year too – the more awareness you can build up, the more likely Members are to vote for you in the future!”

Imran Yusuf’s thoughts have already turned to fundraising efforts for 2015 – and GamesAid also announced today that the successful Comedy Store night, Stand Up for GamesAid will be headed to the Comedy Store in Manchester on October 20th 2014. He asked for people to “save the date and start booking meetings in the North for that Monday as well, more details very soon. “

During the cheque giving ceremony, Stuart Dinsey, GamesAid’s outgoing Chair offered his heartfelt thanks to all the people who supported GamesAid in 2014, and made this the biggest year in the charity’s history. He said that “GamesAid only exists thanks to the energy, passion and fundraising efforts of the games industry. Thank you so much for your support. You are simply amazing.”

Train2Game News: Yogscast raises huge amount for charity

YogscastYogscast, the UK’s most watched YouTube channel, announced that its December charity drive has raised an incredible $1,156,799.80 – just over £700,000.

The record haul for the ‘Yogscast Dwarven Dairy Drive’ smashed last year’s £240,568.25 and will be shared between five charities: Oxfam, War Child, GamesAid, Special Effect and Little People UK.

Talent from across the Yogscast family of YouTube channels appeared on Twitch.tv every night during December playing games, taking on challenges and having fun.

Yognau(gh)ts – fans of the Yogscast – who donated more than $25 got an amazing bundle of games and in-game items worth $350, including Napoleon: Total War, Garry’s Mod, Sonic All-Star Racing, Awsomenauts and The Chaos Engine. Those who gave more than $5 get a ‘Heart of Gold’ accessory item from popular title Team Fortress 2.

Yogscast chief executive Mark Turpin said, “We were aiming to reach £300,000 so to get to £700,000 is an incredible achievement and shows how generous gamers in general and Yognau(gh)ts in particular are.

“We’ve had amazing support from the UK and international video games industry supplying the games and items – there is no way we could have raised the money we did without their fantastic support.

“We also have to thank the Yogscast family who gave up their nights every day, except Christmas Day, in December to broadcast live and raise money.”

Train2Game News: SpecialEffect Charity Football Match

SE Football gameOn the 14th of April SpecialEffect has organised a celebrity charity football game in Oxford to raise funds for SpecialEffect and specifically for one of their amazing members, Charlotte.

A supporter of the activity has said he will donate £100 if we can get a 1000 views of the video at the bottom of this page, so please do spare one minute to watch.

Oxford United club legends, along with a few surprise guests, will be donning their boots to take on an all-star SpecialEffect team, to raise vital funds for SpecialEffect and the Charlotte Nott Trust Fund.

But that’s not all, both the captains places are up for grabs in an Ebay auction!

  • Bid for the Oxford United Legends captaincy or
  • Bid for the glory of leading the SpecialEffect Allstars

Bidding ends at around 3pm on 22 March.

Please bid generously as all funds raised will help Charlotte and SpecialEffect.

Tickets are available on the gate, but you can order them at the link below. Only £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions, U5’s are free. If you can’t make the game but you’d still like to donate to this fantastic cause, to Special Effect’s Just Giving page or you can download the A4 poster and display it to swell the crowds!

You can see how SpecialEffect have helped young Charlotte in the video below, make sure to watch and help them get to that £100!

Train2Game News: Train2Game Student running for SpecialEffect

Wahib Yousaf meets Miles Jacobson

Wahib on the right and Miles Jacobson in the middle

Train2Game student, Wahib Yousaf, is going to run for SpecialEffect in the British 10k in London this year. There is still time for you to sign up and join Wahib!

Wahib has been a Train2Game QA student since February 2012. Since joining the course Wahib has made sure to put himself out there and network as much as possible. He has a desire to make a real impact on the games industry and has decided the best way to start is to network with some of the games industry big hitters.

He also contributed to the ‘From Bedrooms To Billions’ IndieGogo campaign last year and one of the perks was an invitation by Creative Director of the ‘Football Manager’ series, Miles Jacobson, to come down to the S.I Games developers’ studio, meet their team and take part in a Q&A session. It was during this conversation that Miles Jacobson informed Wahib that he was a SpecialEffect ambassador.

On hearing about SpecialEffect, Wahib researched the charity and was moved by what he saw. Last December he made a sizeable donation and after reading about the SpecialEffect run on the Train2Game blog he saw another way in which he could help.

When asked why Wahib decided to run for the charity he said “It’s a Gaming Charity and I get to wear a costume! So, I have started doing 10K Training at my local Virgin-Active gym and endurance training every week for 30 minutes”

The costume that Wahib is so excited to be wearing during the run is his Assassin’s Creed 3 Connor Kenway CosPlay he wore previously to Excels’ Comic Con Expo last year. During the run Wahib will be running with the Flintock Musket and Tomahawk replicas that the character uses through the game.

If you want to run with Wahib and the SpecialEffect team you can still sign up by going to https://www.eventelephant.com/ee/events/pages/summary.htm?siteurl=specialeffect2013

You can watch a quick promotional video on the event below:

If you would like to sponsor Wahib and help him get to his goal of £200 you can do so by going to http://www.justgiving.com/wahib-yousaf

Train2Game wishes Wahib all the luck in running for SpecialEffect and hope he has a great time in doing it!

Train2Game News: Games help Rage Control

A video game has been developed to help young people tackle their anger management issues.

Rage Control uses a device placed on a child’s finger to monitor heart rate – if it gets too high, they lose the ability to shoot at enemy spaceships. The player must control their emotions to do well in the game.

Researchers said the game led to significant decreases in anger in the children studied.

The study compared two groups of nine to 17 year olds. Both groups received standard anger management treatments but the second group also spent 15 minutes playing Rage Control at the end of their session.

The study showed that after five sessions, the children who had played the game were better at keeping their heart rate down and they showed lower scores on a recognised rating scale for severity of anger issues.

The lead author of the study, Peter Ducharme, said he hoped that children playing the game would be able to apply the same calming techniques to other areas of life.

Mr Ducharme said “Kids reported feeling better control of their emotions when encountering day-to-day frustrations on the unit

“While this was a pilot study, and we weren’t able to follow the kids after they were discharged, we think the game will help them control their emotions in other environments.”

The next step in the study is to develop toys for younger children that have the same principle. For example racing cars that stop if a child gets too excited or a cooperative building block game that becomes more wobbly if the child’s heart rate goes up.

This is another excellent example of just how the games industry can help all people of the world. With people creating games like Rage Control and charities such as SpecialEffect, the world can not question the good the games industry can do

Train2Game interview: Gaming Charity Special Effect – Part 2

 

Train2Game was at the Eurogamer Expo, and while there we sat down with gaming charity Special Effect. Special Effect is dedicated to helping young people with disabilities enjoy computer games when it may not otherwise be possible.  They use their expertise and adapted technology including eye control in order to make this happen.

In the second part of our two part interview, Special Effect R&D Bill Donegan tells the Train2Game blog how they decide which games to add their tech too, what their biggest challenges are and how you can help them.

Read it below on the Train2Game blog, on the Train2Game Scribd, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio. Part 1 of the interview is available here.

 

How do you decide which games to build eye tech and other technology into, and do you get any help from the developers themselves?

Yeah we’ve had some really good input. For instance, last week someone we’re working with in Dublin on eye control, who before he had his accident he used to play a lot of golf and so we’ve been trying to find a way for him to play golf using the eye control system. Then this developer basically took a game that he’d already made and we asked him if could put some changes in. He basically put in these functions that allowed eye control or any other pointer input to control the game.

It’s not just a case of being able to control a mouse, if you can play with a mouse it doesn’t necessarily mean you can play with eye control, there’s lots of small subtitles. So basically it involves a lot of testing of games and looking at games seeing what might work and then testing it. Or if there’s something like racing games where in general the genre doesn’t use curser controls as input method, we’re trying to think of ways that we could use that and then play the game.

If any indie developers had a game they wanted to allow this technology to be involved with, would you be happy for them to come to Special Effect?

Yes, we offer a free service of helping developers if they want to put our features in. We don’t say ‘You have to put these features n,’ we’re quite happy to look at someone’s game and make some recommendations, and if they feel it’s viable to do that and put them in then we’ll advise them on how they might want to do that. They do that by meeting us in person, or through email.

And what’s been your biggest challenge adding this tech to your projects?

The one that eludes us slightly and what we’re going to test this bit of software with is first person shooters. Because obviously there’s a large amount of controls just to use a cursor movement for.  So that’s the next big thing on the agenda because obviously lots of people want to be able to play that type of game, like Call of Duty, Battlefield. So using one control input such as a cursor to do about twenty different things, that’s the next thing we’re going to look at long term.

And how can developers help you to do that?

Lots of people we work with have different ways of controlling a computer and different abilities, but there are things that can be put into every sort of game that would help a larger amount of people that we work with, be able to play it.

Quite standard features like, for example, lots of people have heard about putting remapping functions into games. Obviously it opens up games for someone who wouldn’t be able to play ordinarily because they use a specialist controller; they can’t reach a certain button so they need to put it to one they can reach. Being able to do that in the game can be the different between being able to play that game and not.

So some things like eye control is obviously a difficult thing to do, but there are certain things like being able to turn off the cursor control in a first person shooter will obviously allow us to move the cursor and do other functions. It’s quite a hard thing to explain but there are things that if we had discussions with them we’d be able to work on I’m sure.

If people want to get involved with helping Special Effect, how do they go about it?

We’ve just launched a Facebook fan page for Special Effect and by liking it you instantly become a ‘Gamer For Good’ and that basically says ‘I support what Special Effect is doing,’ helping people to play video games. From there they can contact us and find out what they can do to help.

There are special edition Special Effect t-shirts on sale here at Eurogamer can you tell us about those?

Yes. So, Insert Coin who did the logo for our Gamers For Good Facebook page and they’re selling them on their stand.  (The Special Effect t-shirts are also available from Insert Coin Tees website.)

They’re really nice guys basically, they’ve been really supportive of us from the start, and all the profits from the t-shirts are coming straight to us which is lovely. We’ve had no outlay from them so everything we get from the t-shirts is profit for us.  It supports the work that we do basically, we’re privately funded, we don’t get government funding, all of our work is supported via donations so it all goes to helping the work we do.

If you know someone who might benefit from the work we do, get in touch: info@specialeffect.org.uk

Thanks for your time

For more information about Special Effect, www.SpecialEffect.org.uk

Train2Game interview: Gaming Charity Special Effect – Part 1

 

Train2Game was at the Eurogamer Expo, and while there we sat down for a chat with gaming charity Special Effect. Special Effect is dedicated to helping young people with disabilities enjoy computer games when it may not otherwise be possible.  They use their expertise and adapted technology including eye control in order to make this happen.

In first part of a two part interview, R&D at Special Effect Bill Donegan tells the Train2Game blog about what Special Effect do, how eye control technology works and how they adapt games to use it.

Read it below, on the Train2Game Scribd, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio

Can you tell us a bit about the story of Special Effect please?

Special Effect was set up about four years ago. The main aim was to find ways to help people who’ve got some sort of disability, people who can’t use a computer in a normal way or can’t play video games in a normal way using a mouse, controller or keyboard, and find ways for them to play computer games and do other leisure activities if they can’t use the ordinary ways of controlling a computer.

So today we’re showing ‘eye control’ because we’re doing a world record attempt – to get the biggest eye control tournament ever – which I’m guessing is a new record! So hopefully we’ll make a record at least. And we’re also doing a fastest lap competition of the game we’ve got today, which is Trackmania Nations.

The way we’ve got it to work with the eye controller is we created a little bit of software with a volunteer called Tim Brogden, and that turns the mouse movements from the eye control into keyboard presses for the game.

How do you even begin the process of getting eye control into standard games?

It’s often quite tricky because basically what you’re doing with eye control is moving a cursor around the screen by looking around itin the way we’re using it. Obviously there are certain games you can do that with, by doing a left click for instance by blinking or just dwelling on an area.

Obviously point and click games, a lot of those can be played with this; but then if people want to play other types of games such as racing games, there’s only one to my knowledge that you can play using a mouse pointer. So, we came up with the idea of this software to open up lots of games to more people who use things like eye control or head control and can’t use the keyboard to play the game.

So how does Trackmania Nations work with eye control?

The first thing I’d do is…I’ve just sat down in front of the computer which is going to do a quick calibration. Basically this is just telling the computer it’s a different person to the one that’s just had a go on it.

So, I’m going to look at this target on the screen and then the mouse is flickering everywhere because we’ve changed the sensitivity settings to make it work better with this game.  If you’re using it for a normal computer, you need to put some smoothing on to make it a bit more accurate but for this game it works perfectly well.

It looks like it’s working so I’ll just close the calibration down. That’s the alt controller running so what I do is press – we’re doing it in the physical form but you can put on screen buttons up to start the alt controller – so I’m starting that now. Now as I look around the screen the car will follow where I’m looking.

If I want to turn right I’ll look slightly to the right, if I want to turn left at this corner I’ll look to the left. And then if you look at the track you’ll basically accelerate, so if I look down I’ll come to a stop and then roll back down this hill. But it’s set up so you don’t have to look up at the sky to accelerate, you just look at the track ahead of you.

How difficult was it to bring the eye control tech into Trackmania?

It worked quite nicely. The main reason we chose it was because of the short levels, because for people who aren’t used to it it’s quite good just to do a short burst track and do it a few times. But the actual making the profile with the alt controller was one of the easier parts. Obviously it took some tweaking and we made some changes for the Eurogamer event because people aren’t used to using eye control, but it was fairly OK.

Stay tuned for part two of the Train2Game interview with Special Effect and leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

For more information about Special Effect, www.SpecialEffect.org.uk

For more information about Train2Game, go to www.train2game.com