If you’re like me, you grew up cutting your gaming teeth on Super Mario Bros. and its successors, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario 64. You probably went over to your friend’s house when s/he got the most recent game or most recent platform or had friends come over to your place. I bet you, like me, played SMB3 during the wee hours of the night at a super low volume so as not to wake up your parents. When Game Genie came out, you of course had to try it out. Maybe you loved it (I did) or maybe you didn’t like that it made things too easy.
When Super Mario 64 came out, did you love it? Hate it? Or never play it?
Did you buy your Wii before you got the New Super Mario Bros.Wii? Did you count the days until it was release, like we did in our house? Or did you buy the Wii specifically for the New Super Mario Bros? How many times have you played Super Mario Sunshine only to rage quit?
Have you taught your children to play Mario games? What game did you start them off with? We have been teaching our 3 year old to play Super Mario Bros.
How many great memories do you have playing Super Mario Bros. games?
Now, thinking back on life as a kid, were you ever have admitted in a hospital? Did you have to stay over night? Did you have to stay longer? How scary was it, not having your family with you, maybe not fully understanding why you were there, or perhaps understanding completely? Maybe this wasn’t you, but your brother, sister, cousin, niece, nephew, friend, student. How helpless did you feel, watching them in their hospital bed and not being able to make things better and make time go by faster? How much easier would it have been for you if you (or your loved one) had something to occupy your time while you were there?
Well, in comes Child’s Play Charity. “Child's Play is a charitable organization founded by the authors of the popular computer and video games-based webcomic Penny Arcade that organizes worldwide toy drives to children's hospitals. Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins founded Child's Play in 2003 to improve the lives of sick children by donating toys and games to hospitals worldwide…Through Child's Play, donors have sent almost nine million dollars in toys, games and books to children's hospitals all over the world “
There are lots of organizations that fully support the efforts and in turn, many individuals (or non-corporate groups) who see the value of this charity. One such group is the guys from the Mario Marathon. They are three guys from the Mid-West who give up days of sleep to play games from the Super Mario Bros. series. They started back in 2008 and have been growing in popularity and success ever since. Every year, usually around the last weekend of June, Brian, John and Chris (and their friends) will take off a chunk of days from work and their family and try to play as many Mario games, while streaming the footage online, for as long as donations keep rolling in and 100% of all proceeds will go to the Child’s Play charity.
Saying these guys are computer savvy is totally underselling their technical abilities as they have written codes for widgets, headers, donation counters, picture in picture streaming and so much more. They have set up donation levels (are you a Princess donor or a Mario donor?) and have come up with a geometric equation that dictates the number of levels played on the games for the amount of money donated. Away from the computer, they get crafty. I mean, literally crafty. In the past, they have replicated a FLUUD, a propeller helmet, and a couple of stop motion shorts. This year, they have already outdone themselves with their craftiness.
One of the (many) success of this particular gaming marathon is their viewer interaction. My family discovered via Twitter, as did many of the loyal followers of the marathon. They encourage fan art submissions, suggestions on contests, tweeting to the Mario Marathon guys, and/or participating on the live chat through their U-Stream feed. Last year they had a couple of celebrity interviews (internet mainstays, Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day) and were even featured on a local news segment; all of this was live tweeted.
Over the years they have raised $125,408 collectively and things are just going to go up from there. Already (and, remember, the marathon hasn’t even started!) $1484.93 has been raised, and they have unlocked 344 goals.
This year, the marathon is set for June 24th, 2011 (12PM EST, I believe) so please make sure you set that on your calendar and pop in that weekend from time to time. Look for me, @cndn_hippo, to be tweeting like a madwoman as I cheer on these heroes: Brian "Shirt Guy" Brinegar, John "Couch Guy" Groth and Chris "Slouch Guy" Deckard.
PS: It’s worth noting that they are all fathers and are giving up time with their wives and children as they do this. Their families all deserve to be recognized and cheered for their generosity and most certainly their patience! Particularly Brian’s wife, as the marathon is held at their house. It’s not easy to give up sleep and a weekend with your husband and child, and not only does she do this, she even plays some levels from time to time. You rock, Mrs. Shirt Guy!!
PPS: It’s also worth noting that friends of the show, @funnelfiasco, @diamondawg42, @jedediaj, and many others give up a lot of their time to support the Mario Marathon guys by live tweeting, being moderators of the chat, dancing!, playing the occasional level and providing us with some Jed Time stories. You are all superstars in my eyes.
Click the link to view the official Mario Marathon 4 Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iq0oWGkYRo