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Extra Life Survival Guide
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Extra Life Survival Guide

Tips for surviving the Extra Life Marathon

Playing video games for 25 hours straight may seem like the laziest thing a person could do, but the truth is, it’s extremely difficult. The first few hours are no problem, but when you get into the teens, your body starts shutting down because it thinks it needs sleep. Too bad we can’t just tell our bodies that we’re gaming for a noble cause. We’re raising money to keep Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the business of making miracles happen to sick kids all over the country.

Last year’s Extra Life marathon was my first, so I’m by no means an expert, but I found a few things that really helped, and I’ve done some additional research for this year. What follows is my best advice for surviving Extra Life.


If you can only remember one thing from this guide, remember this. Staying hydrated is the most important thing you can do to keep your body going. If you drink nothing but coffee, Red Bull, and Mtn Dew, you will crash hours short of your goal. Caffeine and sugar will give you a boost, but the boost doesn’t last long, and they rob your body of the hydration it needs. Always have a glass of water next to you, and drink frequently. Vitamin water and sports drinks will also help, but you need to drink plain water with them as well.

The other key ingredient in keeping your body fueled, is eating right. That means no junk food. Stock up on complex carbs, fruit, veggies, and lean protein. Last year I ate a lot of pasta, bananas (easy to eat while gaming), and toast. Eating right will keep your brain firing on all cylinders throughout the night.


Even if you haven’t partaken in a gaming marathon, you know gaming takes a toll on your body. Hours of sitting still is not good. Make sure to take frequent breaks to walk around the house or around the block. Don’t slouch in your chair, and make sure your screen is not at an angle where your head is turned or tilted. If you’re not comfortable at the beginning of the marathon, you’re going to be miserable by the end. If you wear headphones, make sure they’re padded well and not too heavy. Keep the lights on! A dark room will tell your body that it’s time to sleep.


Choose your games wisely and write up a schedule that makes sense. Stick to co-op games and try to keep discussions rolling with your co-op partners. I may be biased, but when you’re dozing off playing Skyrim at 3AM, you’re going to realize that a high-energy, 5 player session of Gears of War 3 Horde Mode would have been a wiser choice. Here are some of our most recommended games as well as the time of day you should play them:


This is the best time to play games with long campaigns, or require the most thinking.

  • Borderlands 1 or 2
  • Diablo 3
  • Dungeon Defenders
  • Portal 2
  • Ghost Recon (any)


Time to step it up a bit. Games with shorter, more exciting campaigns are good.

  • Halo (any) campaign
  • Gears of War (any) campaign
  • Army of Two (any)
  • Resistance 3 campaign

Midnight/early morning:

You’re going to need intense action to keep you going. Horde/survival modes are perfect.

  • Gears of War 2 or 3
  • Horde/Beast mode
  • Halo 3 ODST or Reach Firefight
  • Left4Dead 1 or 2
  • F.3.A.R. (Contractions and F**king Run!)
  • Resistance 2
  • Uncharted 3 Arena mode

Don’t forget why you’re participating in Extra Life. We’re doing it for the kids. Keeping that fresh in your mind will help you keep going. If you can live-stream and update your Twitter/Facebook status, you might be able to pull in more donations during the marathon. That should give you a boost, too.

If you haven’t signed up or donated yet, there’s still time to join this year’s marathon. It is on November 2nd starting at 8AM your local time. To join our team or donate, head straight to our team page, or for more information on what’s going on, visit our Extra Life 2013 page.