The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
I am older than the typical 'gamer.' Usually experience comes with age. That being said, I have marathoned more times than I care to remember. With two children at home, it has been a while, but I will soon get my chance to do it once again.
For those of you that don't know, marathon gaming is when you play video games or game for a continuous time period without stopping. Example - The last time I marathoned was when Final Fantasy XIII was released. I picked it up at a midnight release and played a continuous playthrough of it. It was anywhere from 40-50 hours of straight gaming with breaks only to use the restroom.
The above was no small task. I didn't just sit down and start playing. For a worthwhile marathon session, one must prepare. With my wife visiting her family for a few weeks, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to marathon once again. I am taking built up vacation time, so I will be at home, alone, for a little over two weeks. I am currently planning my marathon session. Hell, I might even try to pull off a few if I am up to it. So, I thought I would let you guys into my mode of planning, and to educate the younger gamers on the art.
The first thing you've got to do is plan accordingly. Make sure that you have sufficient free time with no meetings or obligations like work or school. Timing is everything. It's best to start shortly after waking up so you are freshly revived and rested. It should be obvious, but don't start marathoning in the middle of the day or at night when you are exhausted.
Secondly, hardware. Game(s). Game selection is very important. Pick something that is a new game that you haven't played yet. If you try to marathon with something you are used to and familiar with, no matter how much you love it, boredom will set it. For a marathon session, knowledge is not power; it's your downfall. I will use my FFXIII session as an example. I knew that, no matter what, I would love the game. I was positive that it would be a lengthy game filled with twists and turns, ups and downs. Now, you can choose to play a single game, or several.
Playing more than one game during a marathon is tricky. When you stop/start a different game, your mind has to associate itself with the new gameplay and mechanics. When the hours start piling up, this can lead to an influx of exhaustion. You don't want to start with Mortal Kombat, then go into Need for Speed, then into Pikmin. They are too far apart in terms of mindset. The more work you have to do changing genres and getting used to different styles, the more work your brain and body does. You want to conserve energy as much as possible. Marathoning with Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter X Tekken, and Soul Calibur would probably be a more successful experience.
Next is maintaining your energy. I mean food and drink here. For me, I have found that pizza is the best marathon food. It has bread, dairy, meat, and vegetables all rolled up into a delicious combination. But, if you are like most people, after spending 60 or more bucks on a new game, chances are slim that you have the cash to get a good pizza. Little Ceasars has that Hot N Ready deal for 5 bucks. It is ideal for gamers.
For me personally, I have found that the extra grease in most pizzas is a hinderance. The grease itself begins to cause fatigue and laziness (that's why it's so unhealthy, dur!). I get it on my hands, and even with a wet wipe, it manages to find its way onto my controller. If you are like me, a controller is a treasured piece of equipment. Having grease on it is unacceptable. (In fact, whenever I game with a friend, I make them bring their own controller, and I insist on doing the same.) A solution to the grease issue is pizza rolls or pizza bagels. They provide the same benefits as pizza, with the added perk of being bite-sized and less of a mess on your hands.
Liquid sustenance is just as important. Stay away from energy drinks. Red Bull and Rockstar and the like tend to sneak up on you. They give you a boost, then the slowdown gets you out of nowhere. In the later stages of a marathon, this slump in energy can spell the end of the line. I personally don't like those 5 hour energy things. They may work for you, but they give me the same downside as a Red Bull. Soda is also a bad idea unless you have it hooked up via I.V. Coffee is a no-no for me as well. It causes frequent urination and bathroom breaks which can diminish the experience as a whole. I have found that a sporadic 12-18 oz. of Gatorade or Powerade works wonders for keeping you going. Plus, it comes in flavors, enabling you to pick the kind you like, further enhancing the marathon experience.
A comfortable seat is the icing on the cake. This is subjective to taste, of course. As long as you are comfortable, you should be good. You don't want to sit for 30-50 hours in an uncomfortable seat. You will be looking forward to the end of the marathon instead of enjoying the gaming experience.
That's about it. I am currently working through my second playthrough of ME2, so I wll probably get ME3 for my next marathon. It will keep me interested, it's a time consuming title, and I know that after playing ME2, I am sure to enjoy the experience.
For those of you that have marathoned before, I hope I was able to give you some pointers on how to improve the session. For those of you that haven't experienced a marathon, I suggest you do. If done correctly, it can be a very gratifying experience. You may need to fix your sleep schedule afterwards though... but everything has a downside... right?