Community Spotlight: Barry Floyd and Special Effect

We Talk to the amazing Barry Floyd about the work he does for the gamers' charity, Special Effect. Special Effect is a wonderful group that we wholeheartedly support. Read below to learn more about the brilliant work these guys do.

1 – Tell us a little bit about Special Effect and what you guys do?

SpecialEffect is a charity that helps people with disabilities enjoy the fun and inclusion of video games. Our small team of Occupational Therapists and technology specialists travel the length and breadth of the UK, usually working with disabled people in their own homes, to find the best set up for them considering their disability and the movement they have available. We then create, modify or adapt hardware or software according to their needs.

We work with people of all ages, though mostly younger people, and a wide range of disabilities including complex and progressive conditions such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Motor Neurone Disease. Many of the people we work with, particularly those born with a disability, have never experienced the joy of playing a game with family and friends. We help them to overcome physical barriers and enable them to compete on a level playing field.


2 – What exactly do you do for SpecialEffect?

I am part SpecialEffect’s very small fundraising team. Most of my colleagues at SpecialEffect are employed in our Service Delivery Team. They are the ones who go around the UK helping people with disabilities to play video games. My role is to go around the United Kingdom telling the stories of the enormous difference SpecialEffect we make to the lives of disabled people and showing some of the technology we use. 


3 – What inspires you to do the work you do for Special Effect?

That’s a great question and, for me at least, I could list a whole load of things that inspire me in my work. My main inspiration though is because I love the idea of everyone being able to play and have fun. I hate the thought of anyone being excluded from something they enjoyed for any reason at all. I get so much enjoyment from playing video and table top games and I want everyone to have the same opportunities at playing with friends and family. 

One of the best parts of my job is when we have visitors to our Games Room (we mostly travel to people but they can come to our HQ as well) and you can hear the squeals of delight and laughter of somebody who has never played a game before in their life. You’d have a hard job not to be inspired by that. 


4 – You’re at a lot of the Elite Dangerous events – any reason why you spend so much time with the Elite Dangerous community?

Well that’s a really easy one, Ed. I love being a part of the Elite Dangerous community. There’s no other community quite like it. I’m always made to feel welcome and I just love the camaraderie and friendship. I am proud to be a part of the Elite community and blessed to be able to count many fellow Commanders amongst my friends. I love the game and I love the people. Attending the events is time well spent with people I want to be with. It’s as simple as that. Oh! And I get to fuss Alvin and Finlay.


5 – What sort of support have you seen from the Elite Dangerous community?

We’ve had tremendous support from the Elite community. Kate Russell, a Vice President of SpecialEffect, has done an incredible amount to raise the profile of the charity (not to mention a very serious amount of money) through her very successful fundraising ‘Slough Bells Ringing’ and GameBlast livestreams. And the money donated through Kate’s livestreams came from Commanders across the community. Kate has, and continues to be, hugely supportive of our work and is a fantastic ambassador for SpecialEffect.

Other Commanders are also actively fundraising for us. Spence Cook and David Pearson, amongst others, currently have a fundraising page set up and have already raised a significant amount of money towards our work. And other Commanders such as MahdDogg are also really supportive in spreading the word about our work through Twitter and other social media. 

Of course, then there’s you guys at Frontier Developments. You’ve already helped to spread the word about our work by inviting us along to the big launch event at RAF Duxford in November 2014 and more recently by making us a beneficiary of the upcoming CQC Tournament. 

And only last week I was contacted by an Elite Commander friend to say she is planning a fundraising livestream in aid of SpecialEffect. No fixed date for that yet but it will be fairly soon.

I could go on. We are so thankful for all the support the Elite Dangerous community has given us and I really hope it will continue.


6 – What can people do to help support you and Special Effect?

There are so many ways to help. The short answer however is two key things really: fundraising and spreading the word about our work. Income, as you’d expect, is much needed to fund our work and always gratefully received. Most of the support we get from individuals comes from personal challenge events. In many cases gamers will livestream and ask for donations to come to SpecialEffect. More and more people are now raising money from running and cycling events. As long as the fundraiser stays safe and within the law (and ethics), we’re very happy with any means of fundraising.

However, raising the profile of the charity is really important too. In terms of the income it can generate and making people who need our help aware of what we do. Never underestimate the power of a retweet or a shared Facebook post.

7 – What events do you have coming up that you want to tell people about?

We have two really big events coming up in the next few months. The first is our GameBlast event on the weekend of 26-28 February in which gamers and people from the games industry across the United Kingdom undertake gaming marathons and stage events to raise money for SpecialEffect. I’d love to see our community lead the way and do something we can really shout about for GameBlast16 … a big community goal that spans the weekend, or something like that. All the details for GameBlast can be found here 

The other biggie is our Twin Town 16 event that takes place over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Basically, teams buy a car for £500 or less, decorate it then drive from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to Le Touquet in France taking in the Silverstone (UK) and Abbeville (France) racing circuits en-route. Once in Le Touquet, participants enjoy a couple of days of partying and events laid on by the event organiser. We’re aiming for 100 cars to take part this time and we’ve only got 20 places left so its proved to be very popular. All the details can be found here if any of our community is interested   


8 – Are you involved in any other Elite Dangerous events? Both in-game and out.

I spend a lot of my time watching other Elite Dangerous events online and always try to support the various good causes the Commanders are raising money for with a donation. In truth, I actually spend a lot more time watching other people play Elite Dangerous than I spend playing myself. That particular problem will be addressed very soon :) 

I am an honorary member of the Hutton Orbital Truckers though my skill as a Commander sadly falls well short of being able to participate in the events the wider group participate in. I love keeping up with the Truckers and the wider Elite community on Facebook though. 


9 – Do you play the game yourself? How long have you been involved with Elite? How long have you known about Elite?

I’m actually a relative latecomer to Elite Dangerous. I really got into it last year whilst watching Kate Russell’s Slough Bells Ringing fundraising livestreams. I’d initially started watching to cheer Kate on and thank everyone for donating. On the third night I bought myself a copy of Elite Dangerous and a Hotas Thrustmaster (do I have to add ‘other flightsticks are available?’).

I do play myself but because of my working hours and personal situation, I can’t invest anywhere near as much time as I’d like to. Because of that, I’m not confident enough to go into open play but do scratch about in solo making a few credits on trade runs. However, with the Christmas holidays fast approaching, I’ve invested in a hi-spec new PC and I’m determined to start the New Year as a fully paid up member of the Hutton Orbital Truckers rather than an honorary member.


10 – Anything else you want to tell the Community about yourself or Special Effect?

Yes, I’d really like to say a huge thank you to Frontier Developments and the Elite Dangerous community for the wonderful support you’ve given SpecialEffect so far. I appreciate there are many fantastic causes out there and all of us here at SpecialEffect are absolutely over the moon (pun totally intended) that you’ve taken us to your hearts.

We are the only charity that works with disabled people on an individual basis to get them gaming. If we’re not there for them, no other charity will be. It’s your support that makes that possible so please don’t underestimate the positive impact your donations or social media shares and retweets have on people’s lives.

If you know of a Commander or would-be Commander that is currently grounded through disability, please do get them to contact us at . Our very own Elite ground-crew (i.e. our Occupational Therapists and technology specialists) will do their very best to get them up and out into the black again. 

I’d also like to say a personal thank you to you all for the friendship you’ve all shown me. Without going into too much detail, the warmth of this community has helped me through a really bad time in my personal life and I feel blessed to have made so many new friends.