Behind every successful Video Game Charity Event I've organized, there has always been a team. And that's because, simply put, those events would NOT have been a success if it weren't for them and the many unique roles they played both during and leading up to the event itself.
That's not a compliment. That's a fact.
Some of you might shrug this off or say, "Hey, I can do this on my own, Kyle. Shut up." And listen man, I'm not saying that it's impossible to run one of these things completely solo... what I am saying, however, is that the most successful events all derive from a TEAM effort. And without a solid team backing you... well, you're going to limit the amount of money you can raise and most importantly...
...You're going to limit the experience of the event itself. Internally and externally.
I mean, think about it. What would you rather watch, as an outsider (potential donor), on screen during a Video Game Charity Event:
- The same person playing a video game all weekend juggling between trying to call out donations, focusing on the game and reading chat.
- A group of individuals interacting with one another all weekend, laughing, having fun and playing a specific role so as to not overwhelm anyone with too many responsibilities.
Okay, so I know I probably painted number two there a little fancier... but that's just the point. Things ARE fancier when you have an incredible team by your side. You have the luxury of having a player, cast of commentators, technical crew, donation announcer all together on one couch (see above picture). Not only does the atmosphere of having multiple people on screen attract more attention, aka more donations... but, it makes for the experience of the event itself to be so much more gratifying and fulfilling.
Again, you're limiting what the event CAN BE without having a team behind you every step of the way.
If you don't believe me, then I urge you to watch the video below. At the very least, the first two minutes of it... The moment we broke our goal of $10,000.00 raised for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was something I'll never forget for the rest of my life. Yet, it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable if it weren't for the people that were around me WHEN that moment happened.
That's what happens when you put people in a room together that want to do something great. That's what happens when you fight through a lack of sleep all weekend long just to see another donation from a kind-hearted individual pour in. That's what happens when you set a goal and do everything in your power to accomplish it.
And yes, that's what happens when you have an incredible team.
. . .
So, without further ado... I present to you a list of the roles you should seek out in recruiting/building your Video Game Charity Event team that are absolutely integral to the overall success of the marathon itself.
I'm sure this one was obvious, but how could I leave it off? You can't do a Video Game Charity Event without a rotation of players that actually play the games themselves.
I've found that the best way to find a "good" player is making sure they are playing a game that they WANT to play.
Believe me, you can tell from a mile away if someone is playing something that they don't genuinely want to play... and that reflects on the performance within the game itself.
I've found the easiest way to do this is making a list of the games prior to the event itself and asking each potential player (those who have volunteered to want to play in the Video Game Charity Event) what game they think they would:
- Have the MOST fun with.
- Have the MOST experience with.
A lot of times, depending on your sample size of players for the event itself (I had typically around six, including myself), you might face the "issue" of having multiple people wanting to play the same game.
In situations like THAT, it's actually a waaaaaay easier compromise than you might imagine.
For instance, the best solution, in my opinion, is to have both players take turns playing through the game itself. This is great because since the other person in waiting to play next already knows so much about the game, they're able to act as a sort of "narrator" and give people a much better understanding about everything that's going on throughout the game itself.
The player's are the heartbeat of a Video Game Charity Event because they are the main attention of it. Sometimes, that can be scary... especially if you're doing this for the first time and have never played in front of a lot of people at one time.
Don't overthink it.
This is a CHARITY event and unless you're trying to break some world record or advertise yourself as "insanely pro speed runners", the best thing you can do as a player is to just have fun, give it your best, and let the show be your experience through the game itself.
Don't take yourself so seriously.
I remember having our friend Parsha try to play through Mario 64's "Magic Carpet Ride" level. That was one of the most hilarious things in the world because... well, I love you buddy and I know you'll hate me for saying this... but he absolutely sucked at it. Which, led to chat, the people in the room and just about everybody else watching around the world cheering him on to beat it.
The "failures" of a player at a Video Game Charity Event are not failures.
They add a surprising amount of charm and realness to the event itself. And an element of hilarity unlike anything you've seen. Having said that...
Still make sure you practice before the event.
I know the best way we measured this was by hosting meetings every month or so leading up to the event itself and while at the meeting... we all took turns playing our games to measure where we were at. Also, you're going to want to do a tech "run", so to speak, right before the event itself just to make sure that all the equipment (I'll get into that in a later section) is working properly. While this is going on... this is the PERFECT time to do one last real "run" for each player (or the one's that feel they need it) to ensure they are comfortable before going live.
Also, if you happen to have the luxury of multiple televisions and video game systems at the location of the event itself, you can always have your players practicing in a separate room too! Just make sure they aren't too loud and disrupt the ACTUAL event itself!
The mission of a commentator should be to engage the audience that's watching as much as humanly possible.
I've found that the most successful commentators are the one's that:
- Exhibit energy and projection in their voice
- Display light hearted humor and are able to make people laugh (no, you don't need to be a comedian)
- Establish a fine balance of depicting the mission of the charity itself while engaging with everything else that's going on in the room and screen.
That's a lot.
Similar to players, having commentators work in shifts/rotations is ideal because if you're doing it right... it should become exhausting after a while.
Think about it:
You're reading chat, calling out incoming donations (while trying not to interrupt the flow of a game), reminding people what the event is for/about all while trying to connect with the people watching at home.
I find that the best way to commentate is to do it with multiple people. This alleviates the pressure of having to do everything yourself... and, inevitably, it's a lot easier not to miss something in chat when you have more than one person reading it.
My best friend and teammate Kyle Serra, to me, epitomizes everything a commentator should be. Or, at least, STRIVE to be.
His voice was "announcer-like". He made each donation more exciting than the next. He kept people engaged with what was happening or about to happen on the schedule. And he was able to do that all while allowing the players to concentrate on the game itself.
I have been blessed to have had so many unique and amazing commentators throughout the course of three Video Game Charity Events. From Paul's impressions, to Richie's "Wario Bike!" to the swagtastic commentary of Ricky, to Andria's gentle touch of engaging people with her soothing voice... man, I've had a LOT of good commentators.
When building your team, make sure you keep people in mind that you think would make great commentators. You're going to be hearing them more than anything else, after all. And so will the rest of the internet too.
I think one of the most important qualities for commentators is being grateful.
Whenever someone donates, you want them to know personally how much it meant to have that donation come in... make people feel SPECIAL. Without those donations, there wouldn't be an event... so each time a new one comes in... get stoked! Make them feel the love!
And then, if you do that each time... no matter what size of the donation... the love will continue to pour in.
I promise you.
The Technical Crew
Having a proper technical crew behind you at all time's insures that if anything goes wrong, it can be fixed. And I don't think you'll ever have an event where something DOESN'T go wrong.
These are facts...
Imagine spending months and months putting together an event all to have it fall apart because the server crashed during the event itself. Or, perhaps the camera stopped working and nobody can see anything other than the dark abyss of a black screen.
There are SO many things that can happen when you put on an event like this. And making sure you have a technical crew behind you at all times makes these disasters avoidable.
I usually set up a "station" where the crew can monitor everything most optimally (usually behind the event itself). Recruiting people that are familiar with recording software, are able to make text appear on screen and understand how to remedy power outages are all MAJOR pluses.
You don't have to be an expert at it... I didn't think I would understand things, but I got it after a little trial by fire. Yet, I was lucky enough to have a cast of people (shout outs to Josh, Preston, Jeff, Kyle, Tree, Parsha and anyone else I missed) that I always felt comfortable with. Even when our power went out, and I had to race to the nearest store to buy a new extension cord, I knew that everything would be alright because THEY were THERE.
When you have so many other things to focus on, such as getting donations, or you know... playing the GAME... believe me, the last thing you want to worry about is a technical issue.
You should ALWAYS have a technical crew "run-through" either the night before the event or the day of (I always did night before just to be safe). This allows them to get on the same page with one another and ensure that there are no hiccups when that camera light goes live.
I always went out of my way as MUCH as possible to help the technical crew out... it was a big responsibility and there were times when moving away just to go to the bathroom was difficult. My advice?
Get as many people that want to help on the technical side as possible. They are integral to the success of the event and control all the strings.
. . .
The Moderators/Social Media Crew
I suppose this one is a little bit of a hybrid, but it's all relative. Believe me, it might not sound like this piece is necessary, but it ABSOLUTELY is.
Your team needs to include volunteers that can:
- Moderate chat itself ensuring that people follow guidelines and aren't rude/disrespectful (yes, this happens even during a charity event)
- Reach out on social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, the whole nine yards) to increase viewers and get the word out about the event that is happening RIGHT NOW.
The cool thing about moderating chat is that you don't HAVE to be in the same room or at the event itself to do it...
For instance, I had an incredible friend (Carlos) who did this all from several states away during the second Video Game Charity Event I did. And then, when he showed up to the third one in person... well, that was even better.
You need to have people moderating chat because it CAN get out of hand pretty quickly if you're not careful. And obviously, the more people that are watching, the higher the chance that things DO get out of hand. This isn't a "scary" thing, especially when you have a crew of moderators ready and able to 'kick' anyone out that's acting inappropriate. But if you don't have that...?
Yeah... don't let that happen.
Moderators are also the other side of the spectrum too. They are actively encouraging people to donate in chat, or thanking those that did.
They're a very quick/easy outlet to engage with people watching when so many other things are going on. I'm thankful I've had a lot of people to help with that in the past. It's definitely an "easier" job compared to the roles I've described above and I've found that when people ask me, "Kyle, can I help out with your event?" that's one of the best ways for them to do so.
Social media blasts are a MUST. If people don't know about your event... how the hell can they donate to it? Thus, you have a team for it!
I always had people posting about what we were doing at all times. Usually, I would assign people to certain media outlets. Person A would be responsible for the Facebook Fan Page. Person B would be responsible for bumping the Reddit topic. Person C would be responsible for doing a snapchat story... etc
There are SO MANY different social media outlets now, which means that there are immeasurable ways to gain an audience. And most of all, to continue to make it grow, which should be the goal of all social media teams.
Having each person bring their own laptop to the event itself works best for this, obviously. If they don't have one, tablets or smart phones are viable too...
Similar to having a technical crew "station", I like to have one for the moderators/social media crew as well. Often times, this can be on the couch as it allows them to be on screen and interact... but it all depends on the person and their level of comfort of being on camera.
Just make sure you don't undervalue how important this piece is to your team. Just because it's "easier" to do doesn't mean it isn't one of the most important ingredients to the overall success of the event itself. These people are making more and more people know about the event... and from that, these people are bringing you closer and closer to that overall donation goal you're trying to achieve.
Make sure they are by your side at all times because it's going to be a lot lonelier of an event if they're not. Both on and off screen.