I spent 12 hours of my birthday weekend completing Children with Cancer UK’s Game 2 Cure challenge.
It was my first experience of streaming on Twitch – something that, as an old-school gamer, I was intrigued to try and that I was slightly concerned would involve ample trolling.
Fortunately – despite my stream being based around an epic first-time play through of From Software’s revered samurai bruiser Sekiro – no trolls materialised. Only encouraging, warmly banterous friends and family who watched along (in some cases for the whole night) to cheer me on.
And cheering on I needed. The last samurai game I had played was probably Shinobi. Or possibly its sequel Shadow Dancer.
While those superb games might have been fairly challenging (I can’t honestly remember their difficulty level) I am pretty sure they were a stealthy stroll in the samurai park compared to Sekiro.
Sekiro is beautiful but brutal. I played it for 10.5 hours, died more times than the word ‘unprecedented’ has been said this year, and progressed only a small amount. But it was an awfully enjoyable experience nonetheless.
The first thing I noticed about streaming: knowing you have an audience can sometimes throw your focus. I found myself skipping through dialogue and tutorials quicker than I probably should have, through an awkward self-consciousness about it being boring for anyone watching along.
But the comments people left in the chat were hugely entertaining, and there was a sense of group celebration when I got past a difficult point like the Chained Ogre boss who kept trying suplexes and other such wrestling moves out on me. It gave me an appreciation of why people enjoy streaming games, or watching game streams.
The final few hours of my time with Sekiro, in the early hours of the morning, were spent trying over and over to fell Gyoubu Oniwa, an enormous horse-riding boss with a gigantic spear who you have to kill twice in order to proceed. Bless my two friends who persevered watching me play this part over, and over, and over in a stubborn refusal to accept that I needed to level up my skills and equipment first. For all the amazing level design and impressively complex combat systems, From Software games really do have their Groundhog Day moments.
As per my plan for the evening, when my young daughter woke up around 7am, I switched from the samurai violence to the more family-friendly Untitled Goose Game. It was a sweet relief to be guiding a goose around a village, honking and causing gentle carnage, after all the violence of Sekiro. But all those hours of being a ninja came in handy as I slunk around the village wreaking stealthy havoc.
I was chuffed to have raised more than £600 for Children with Cancer UK by the end of the event. If you’re thinking of giving charity streaming a go, I heartily recommend it.