It’s been far too long since we last reported on the ongoing charitable escapades of Rare staff, so here’s an update!
We recently had a spring clean of the studio’s storage spaces, giving employees a chance to run off with quality game-related goods in return for a donation to our chosen charity, Get-Well Gamers UK. After a UK-wide Microsoft initiative at the end of 2014 to round up donations, we wanted to see what else we could do for Get-Well Gamers. Their lovely team collect unwanted consoles, games and more to donate to children’s wards of UK hospitals, helping children to communicate and interact with each other and providing them with an outlet for fun. We sent the team just shy of £650 from our little clearout. Want to make a donation of your own? Visit their donation page!
We also ran events throughout 2014 to raise money for SpecialEffect, finishing with a total of £2,498. SpecialEffect are a UK charity using technology to enhance the quality of life of those living with disabilities, and much of this work revolves around giving them access to games. With some very clever controller modifications, the organisation can help children with a wide range of disabilities play games and share the fun with friends and family. While they’ve made excellent use of Kinect to date they also incorporate things like eye movement input, custom speech setups and heavily modified joysticks for children with specific needs such as playing using only their feet.
Nick from SpecialEffect had this to say:
“More and more people with disabilities are contacting SpecialEffect in order to help them game, be this with specialist controllers through to eye control technology. SpecialEffect is about creating a level playing field so that people with disabilities can have fun and freedom. The charity relies on voluntary donations so the support from Rare really does make a massive difference as we seek to meet growing demand.”
All this good news got us wondering about the other charity efforts that Rare staff were recently or imminently involved in, so we went around and asked…
After making it to the final of last year’s football tournament in aid of SpecialEffect, we sent two teams this year in hopes of glory! While not all went to plan, the teams had a great day supporting a worthy cause. Here’s our match report from James. Pay special attention to the intense on-pitch facial expressions in the photos…
After a sterling run to the final in the inaugural SpecialEffect Wembley 5s charity football tournament, this year we decided to stack the deck in our favour and double the number of teams heading south for the event. After all, if you’re playing against yourself in the final at least someone from the company walks home with the trophy.
That was the conceited plan, anyway. Shame the other squads in attendance weren’t on the same page as us.
As with last year the tournament took the same format as the World Cup, a series of groups with every team playing each other with the group winners and runners-up progressing to the knockout stages. Word of the event had spread, however, and so the number of teams had grown to include the likes of Sega, Sports Interactive, Rebellion, and 5-a-side’s most feared gaming team, Testology. On paper alone it looked tough!
With such heavyweights we knew that a tricky draw was a possibility, and Rare Blue (there were no A or B teams for us, we tried to split the squad evenly, honest) of the two Twycross teams fared worse. Carrying on from where we left off last year, Blues tumbled to a defeat against reigning champions Creative Assembly before promptly losing to an impressive SpecialEffect. The latter can almost be forgiven as not trying to upset our hosts but the first was a sharp reminder of how last year we let our game slip at a vital time.
Since KSR was announced around this time last year, we’ve had Rare reps out promoting the game across the world from its Gamescom debut in Cologne to the Tokyo Game Show, Eurogamer Expo in London, Paris Games Week and of course Comic-Con in San Diego only a few weeks back.
One place we hadn’t really covered was Asia, but now with the market opening up and the Xbox One about to launch there with KSR and a clutch of other games among the advance guard, ChinaJoy 2014 presented itself as the perfect time and place. This time around we sent Pete and Nick from Rare to do the on-stage honours. Here’s Pete with a rundown of how it went!
Arrival! Nick and I got to the hotel on Monday morning, freshened up from around 18 hours of travelling and decided to go for a walk around Pudong district to get the lay of the land. Our hotel was close to Century Park so we began our journey there and ended up at the Shanghai Tower and World Financial Center.
We popped into a shopping mall to take a look around and were surprised to find a lot of influential Western shops and brands. On the way back we took the scenic route, walking along the Huangpu River while the sun began to set.
On Tuesday we ventured out to the Microsoft offices in Shanghai where we met up with several other Microsoft representatives participating in ChinaJoy. We had lunch at the Shanghai Min, where our host ordered several local dishes including jellyfish and others probably best not to mention!
During the afternoon we toured the local tech shops and grey markets where you could purchase imported electronic goods. Later we went over to the convention centre to help with setup, finding the team hard at work putting the finishing touches to the Xbox booth. The Shanghai New Expo Centre is absolutely massive.
After months of intense competition, the Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship concluded with all the drama and spectacle you’d expect from a live public finale at Comic-Con. Organised by Microsoft and supported by Rare, the Championship offered some exceptional prizes for digital athletes who could prove themselves the best in the world, both in the qualification stages and on a physical stage in front of a buzzing Saturday night Comic-Con audience.
Adam and Darren were Rare’s men on the ground, helping out the Xbox team, spending time with the 11 finalists (from eight different countries) and live tweeting from the Championship showdown. Now that it’s all over, here’s Adam with a first-hand perspective on the whole thing!
Comic-Con is massive. And by massive we mean a heaving great spectacle of popular culture plastered across San Diego for four sweltering days. Regardless of your interests, there will be something here to sate your appetite. Ranging from the most niche comic books through to Hollywood’s billion-dollar franchises, Comic-Con serves to remove any fandom battle lines and unite the attendees in a celebration of their beloved IPs.
As ever, Xbox had a huge presence at the show – painting the town green with a stand in the main convention centre and the dedicated Xbox Lounge at the adjacent Hyatt Manchester hotel. Given the scale of Comic-Con, it seemed only fitting that Kinect Sports Rivals should go big and match the event’s epic scale by hosting our World Championship final in front of the cosplay hordes.
Having arrived in San Diego late on Tuesday night, we headed down to the Xbox Lounge early on Wednesday morning to ensure the Kinect Sports Rivals booth was up and running for the event’s opening on Thursday. Having made a textbook British error of walking from the hotel to the Lounge, we arrived with a crispy pink hue and found ourselves sporting a gorgeous shade of sunburn for the remainder of the event. It did however complement our Xbox branded T-shirts perfectly. Swings and roundabouts.
Stationed next to Dance Central, we had everything up and running by late afternoon and following a quick pit stop at the hotel we were back in the evening for final preparations ahead of the public opening. Thanks to our Marketing team, we were given passes to attend the Comic-Con preview evening in the main convention centre and rapidly found ourselves submerged in a sea of cosplay, jumbotrons, giveaways galore and more film props than you could wave a sonic screwdriver at.