Event: Ode to the Borderlands 2 marathon

borderlands 2 marathon men

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. At the inaugural rawDLC event on the 21st of September even we didn’t quite know what to expect. Grabbing the crème fraiche of the Australasian games industry we embarked on a mission for Child’s Play charity.

The calm before the storm

As we’ve learnt from Quentin Tarantino the best ideas are not formulated but stolen. After participating in GameArena’s Borderlands marathon a few years ago and with the Borderlands 2 launch looming Josh and I had an epiphany. We’d steal GA’s idea and make it bigger, better and more bad-arse, and claim it as our own.

The concept was simple enough. Grab a group of our buddies, all staples of the local gaming industry, set up a sweet gaming space and embark on a 30-40 hour marathon live-streaming start to finish session of Borderlands 2 with an interactive chatroom, all manner of insanity and all proceeds garnered to the best of causes, Child’s Play charity.

This magnificent organisation seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through the kindness and generosity of the video game industry and the power of play. Josh and myself as well as our tech buddy from our partners Neon Solutions and our friends over at 2K Games had been hard at work setting up the event. Josh had pulled many all-nighters to ensure that the live stream went off without a hitch.

In true rawDLC fashion we didn’t quite make it out at 6pm on the dot but close enough. It was quite fitting that the starting line-up consisted of myself, Josh, GameArena’s loose cannon Joab Gilroy and Gameplanet’s Luke Lawrie. It was as if the torch was being passed from one Borderlands marathon to the next and the epic journey began.

Dave unusually focussed for the first night shift

With the first shift down all involved bunkered down for the evening. We all took turns manning the chatroom keeping the feed fresh, interesting and more than a little irreverent. Local horror film writer (Redd Inc. out on blu-ray next week, check it out!) Anthony O’Connor tagged in with AusGamers’ Naren Hooson as Dean Longmore and SMH’s Calum Wilson Austin took the chatroom on a wild and woolly ride.

The evening took and unexpected twist when Gameplanet’s Yug and our good buddy Jiggsy invaded the set armed with a bottle of tequila, and they weren’t afraid to use it. The evening went rapidly downhill from then on and the less said about what eventuated the better. Our producer Chris Murray of Neon Solutions dropped by and jumped in for a lash and more than held his own. As the wee morning hours approached Josh and I took a moment’s respite and managed to grab a few hours of shuteye in preparation for the next day’s festivities.

You’ve got to have a lot of balls to pull off a marathon (phrasing)

Sitting at around about the $800 mark thanks to some very generous gamers the boys from Dusty Cartridge took the reins and clocked in for their early morning shift at 6am. The comfort level was indeed high thanks to our pals over at LoveSac who not only provided the ridiculously snuggly gamer seats for all to work their arse grooves into, but generously offered a 10% discount on any of their products for those who donated to Child’s Play during the event. What legends!

We’d like to give a huge thank you to Adam, Mark, Chad and Chris from Dusty Cartridge for not only bringing the goods come game time, but also providing the brilliant photos as seen in this piece. With the lads hitting the “dusty” trail the next shift change brought in Gameplanet’s James Cullinane and Yug Blomberg and the sultry vixens of Geek Bomb Maude Garrett and Rae Johnston. Little did we know what we were in store for.

Geek Bomb’s Rae knocking out a juicy headshot while Dusty Cartridge hold down the fort with Jiggsy

The event hit full stride as Maude and Rae assaulted both the consoles and chatroom with the entire event feeding off their energy. The chatroom became a hotspot of activity. Yug, James and Jiggsy jumped in and pumped up the listeners, Joab and Luke brought their podcasting experience to the forefront and regaled listeners with many off-colour behind the scenes stories which delighted and amused the attentive crowd.

Donations started flowing in with Maude prepared to do just about anything to secure some extra dollars for Child’s Play. She sang wonderfully off-key, recited tunes from The Legend of Zelda and wasn’t even the least bit shy about dragging the rest of us along for the ride. To secure a $50 dollar donation we downed controllers and rocked out gangnam style to the bemusement of those watching the live feed.

Much hilarity ensued afterwards with a steady stream of generousity driving the tally close to the $2,000 mark, which, when surpassed would unlock another surprise from Rae and Maude we weren’t privy to. While speculation seemed to centre around perverse thoughts and wishful thinking what the girls had planned nearly broke both the stream and the chatroom.

Giggling maniacally the two whirling dervishes donned cow and giraffe costumes and commenced gallivanting about like a pair of mutated monkeys on acid. These two bats out of hell provided a much needed booster shot of energy as sleep deprivation began to take its toll on myself and Josh, but we knew we must press on!

The next roster change brought on board Kotaku head cheese Mark Serrels, our pal Naren from AusGamers back for another dose and Zoo Weekly’s Lewis Astridge who really came through in the crunch heading up console and chatroom duties like an absolute boss. Serrels even managed to break out the trademark “Serrel’s Stare”, which you can drink in in its entirety below.

Tension mounted as we neared both the final confrontation with Handsome Jack at the game’s finale and the $2,400 mark. As the we grooved into the night shift on Saturday Handsome Jack bit the dust and the room erupted as all involved dropped controllers and danced around like Snoopy in celebration.

Serrels mugged shamelessly for the camera dancing “from the face down” as only he can. Even Joab took a moment’s pause from hoarding all weapons to join in the festivities. We finished much sooner than we thought and kept the party going in New Game Plus mode and while the spirit was willing, the long slog was beginning to show with diminishing mental capacities as the ravages of the marathon began to take its toll.

Beating the final boss happy dance

While we had planned to go through to midday Sunday the exhausting schedule got the better of us and we draw the event to a close at 4am on Sunday. It was grueling, insane, humbling and worth even damned minute. We succeeded in raising just over $3,000 at the final tally, had a fantastic weekend with a bunch of our mates, knocked out one of the best games of the year, but most importantly managed to bring a little ray of sunshine to some kids who needed it the most.

We’ve since been contacted by Child’s Play who thanked and applauded our efforts and granted rawDLC silver sponsorship status on its website. We couldn’t have done it without all our friends who made the weekend such a success and we humbly thank you all for your efforts as well as those countless individuals who donated their time and money to help us reach our goal.

I’d like to personally thank everyone involved starting with my partner in crime Josh Philpott who I couldn’t have done this event without. He was the undisputed hero of the weekend and in 34 hours of live-streaming didn’t lose the feed for a single second which, for anyone who knows rawDLC, is an impressive feat in its own right. We’d both like to thank our partners Neon for providing the space in its studio for us to hold the event, our producer Chris Murray for jumping in and having a bash at Borderlands 2 and tech wizard Craig Bailey who helped us set up the event.

Big ups to 2K Games and Alan Moore for providing all of the hardware, copies of the game, giveaways, merchandise and stunning Borderlands 2 paraphernalia so we could deck out the studio and make it look as bad-arse as it did. Alan’s tireless efforts on behalf of 2K Games ensured it all went off swimmingly and made sure we had everything we needed. A special thank you goes out to Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford for his support and graciously shooting promotional materials on our behalf. We love you Randy!

It’s hard goddamned work!

Now we come to the meat and potatoes, those who gave up their weekend and sanity to bunker down for the event. GameArena’s Joab Gilroy, Gameplanet’s Luke Lawrie and AusGamers’ Naren Hooson who took on the lion’s share of the playthrough and made sure we knocked out the game in almost record time. Joab brought his usual flamboyance, Naren was workmanlike and in the gaming zone while Luke entered an almost zen-like trance playing a ten hour stint with only a single break to grab more pizza!

Gameplanet’s Yug and James were both incredibly entertaining, as Jimmy provided the laughs and some hilarious chatroom anecdotes and Yug (unsurprisingly) ensured we were all suitably alcohol fueled. Both guys came back down to the studio off shift to make sure we were all having a blast and we appreciate their support big time.

Geek Bomb’s Maude and Rae really helped us take it to a whole new level as their antics shocked and awed the room and began a solid battle of one upmanship (womanship?) to see who could reign supreme on the airwaves. They rocked both those at home and us in the studio and really got the donations rolling in and proved they are a force to be reckoned with.

Kotaku’s Mark Serrels battled sickness just to be a part of this. Zoo’s Lewis Astridge stepped up when we need it most. Anthony O’Connor brought some much needed Irish wit and potato peels and Jason Lyon stepped in for seven minute stint and smashed Handsome Jack. Calum Wilson Austin and Dean Longmore made Friday night unforgettable with the most existential chatroom rant in the history of mankind.

I have to give a special shout out to Jiggsy who crossed publisher boundaries and lent a helping hand across the board. He even managed to throw in a spectacular Brad Pitt in Snatch imitation and stripped down to Batman underoos once we crossed the $2,500 threshold. That’s an image seared into my mind I’ll not soon forget!

Last but certainly not least are the Dusty Cartridge crew. Not only did Adam Guetti, Mark Ankucic, Chad D’cruze and Chris Aprea devote their time to an extremely early morning session but the guys manned up to handle the chatroom and cut together a glorious video diary of the event featuring all the madness of the two days (icluding a very lucid and sleep deprived version of myself), which you’ll find at the end of this post in case you missed out on the fun.

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times and I simply can’t wait to go through it all over again!

Stay tuned…

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.