Power Up Audio crawled into my ears this summer as I had the pleasure to preview Slick Entertainment’s brawler, Viking Squad. As I began to inquire about developers and artists in the industry that give back, Power Up was mentioned. Kevin Regamey and Jeff Tangsoc of Power Up Audio were kind enough to spend part of a busy Friday afternoon with me recently.
Kevin Regamey is an avid speedrunner and fan of the playstyle. Speedrunning is the play-through of a videogame with the intention of finishing it as quickly as possible. Kevin is the world record holder for the speedrun on the game, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
“I have always had a deep fascination with glitch hunting and playing games the way you are not supposed to. It helps a lot in development because we’ll just find bugs while we are in development and say hey, we should probably fix this or maybe we should leave it in because it’s hilarious or something.”
Over the years of viewing speedruns Power Up Audio had noticed a “hit and miss” quality of the audio on the streams. This prompted a motivation to get involved, specifically with Games Done Quick (GDQ). Connecting with Luke Burtis at tiny Build, Power Up Audio was able to partner with GDQ for Summer Games Done Quick 2015. The combination of Kevin’s enthusiasm surrounding speedruns and Power Up Audio’s interest to improve the event’s audio was a perfect fit.
Power Up Audio descended upon Summer Games Done Quick to donate their services for a week, though not without hitches. “It was pretty nuts. Admittedly it was a very complex set up, they have eight mixes going out to separate places. They have all of the game inputs, game audio and the host, the players, a music track, devs calling in on Skype, and interviews going on,” Kevin recalls.
“It was a hellishly stressful week there. There was not time for tech rehearsal so the first few days were difficult,” he remembers.
“We were balancing (the audio mixes) going out to out to different destinations. The room in Minneapolis where it was happening. The stream on Twitch, the re-stream (the non-English stream), the host has their own mix, the four game players and the mixes of their own game with nothing else and then the commentators. We’re also riding faders up and down based upon a current leader in a given race. If it was something like a Mario 64 race we would have all four in the shot. We would have the current audio be the person who was in the lead to draw focus on them.”
A portion of the viewing audience noticed some inevitable missteps, and took to commenting on it Twitter. But Regamey took it in stride and responded to the vitriol with positivity. A positivity that is easy to draw upon when you remember why GDQ does what it does. Summer Games Done Quick in 2015 benefited Doctors Without Borders. GDQ has seen an incredible rise in viewership and participation, a good sign that gaming for charity is a growing and stable endeavor.
“One of the reasons (I think) there has been so much success in terms of raising awareness for organizations like Child’s Play, Desert Bus, Games Done Quick, Extra Life, is that people want to contribute what they can,” Kevin says. “But the gaming community at large don’t want to go to a gala. They can just be at home, chilling, do what they want. The are a part of subculture that they relate to. It’s a whole community being a part of cause and being part of that can be very empowering.”
Jeff recalls an important moment of a gamer finding a connection during a particular stream, “When we were watching Awesome Games, people would donate and leave notes. There was one saying something like, ‘my mom had cancer and the way I would cope with it is to play Zelda a lot.’ So that is why they would donate to the stream when Zelda was playing. They felt they were giving back because of the time they had with the game during a tough period. They were connected and it helped alleviate some of their pain. I feel my donation would make more of a difference because games speak to me. To turn something tragic into something positive is pretty amazing. With the years of the negative stereotypes placed upon of video game players, to wash away any negative stigma, it’s a good thing.”
While Power Up Audio will not be able to join Awesome Games Done Quick this January, there are big fingers being crossed they can reenter the fray and contribute their skills for Summer Games Done Quick in 2016. Be sure to check out Games Done Quick for their upcoming events and Power Up Audio’s amazing work, your ears will thank us.