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Geek Philanthropy: Players collect millions of games through marathon livestreams



T Here in the world of philanthropy has undergone a quiet revolution in recent years, due to the fact that sitting to play a video game until you fall from sleep deprivation, thousands or even Making millions of dollars can be charity – as long as you do it live on the internet.

"The impact is huge and growing," says Jeremy Wells, fundraiser manager at Médecins Sans Frontières, a popular partner for charity events. "Summer Games Done Quick is our biggest fundraiser of the year, contributing $ 2.1

million to our total event program of $ 4.7 million last year."

The streaming of charity events is similar to that of old ones Schools or fundraising events: streamers radiate themselves play games live on the Internet and encourage viewers to donate to charity Games Done Quick – a twice-a-year, multi-day showcase in the Speedrunners technical knowledge, pronounced Using the skills and physics disruption to play games as fast as possible is one of the scene's biggest events, but it's far from the only charity out there. "Twitch's streaming platform estimates that between 2012 and 2017 alone for their service over 75 million dollars for various charities g

Perhaps the first livestream for charities was Desert Bus for Hope, which took place in November 2007 The first days of streaming are extremely confusing.

Desert Bus is hard work for a team that plays the toughest minigame in the world – with a slightly broken bus on a boring, eight-hour virtual real-time drive from Tucson to Las Vegas and back – as long as spectators donate. At events held since this first stream each year, more than $ 5 million has been raised for Children's Child's Play.

"We jokingly called it the" first annual Desert Bus for Hope, "says James Turner, a member of the comedy troupe and founder of Desert Bus LoadingReadyRun." We had no intention of ever doing it again. .. but it has decreased! "

  Members of LoadingReadyRun celebrate the $ 5 million mark that has been spent over the life of Desert Bus for Hope.



Members of LoadingReadyRun are celebrating the $ 5 million mark over the lifetime of Desert Bus for Hope has been raised Photo: Kolin Toney @ specialkolin.com/Desert Bus for Hope

"Ustream was the service we used in the early years of Desert Bus," explains Turner. "There was no overlay, no graphics … then we ran two separate streams: A camera pointed at us and one of the actual game."

In the days before the mass application of Twitter or tools such as Skype or FaceTime, links were shared across blogs and websites, while the audience's interaction took place via Internet Relay chat clients or over phone calls held to a microphone , In the first year, they flocked for more than four consecutive days and raised $ 22,000.

Today, like other Juggernaut streaming events, Desert Bus has become a big production with schedules and volunteers. However, the entry barrier for streaming – and especially for charity streaming – has been drastically reduced: an Internet connection and a decent PC are usually enough for anyone to stream online. Also platforms have jumped on board; Donation handlers such as Tiltify or GoFundMe offer receipts and money tracking, while broadcasters such as YouTube Giving, Facebook Live or Twitch incorporate metrics, eye-catching graphics, and donation buttons directly into the show. While mega-streams like Games Done Quick and, more recently, Hbomberguy's star-studded celebrity streams for trans adolescents are attracting the most money and attention, there are still donations coming from smaller streams with hundreds or even dozens of viewers become. 19659003] "Sometimes only one person flows a bit and their friends see and donate something," says Wells. "It's very basic, very reactive."

The closest ancestors to live streaming include telethones such as the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Marathon or PBS Promise. "It was an inspiration in all our heads," says Turner. "That was something we grew up with, and we put that formula on the internet."

"It's a show for a cause," notes Wells. "It brings people together under one activity, using modern technology, but with the same old methodology."

Some charities, such as Extra Life, maintain rankings that encourage different groups to engage their fans and fight for rankings. Other streams set donation goals that, once reached, have something to do with the streamer – often a difficult, boring, embarrassing or disgusting one.

Desert Bus works on similar principles: The first hour of virtual driving costs $ 1, but the amount The increase required for the next hour increases exponentially by 7% per hour. Desert Bus ran 160 hours last year, which means that the last few hours each cost nearly $ 1 million in donations. "We knew we needed this built-in emergency hatch so we could not just be there forever," laughs Turner.

Last but not least, the charities see a number of benefits for this "geek philanthropy" (apart from the revenue) of which is exposure to a wider audience. "The Harry Potter Association has made some donations for Doctors Without Borders. Even the conventions of my little pony, "says Wells. "I applaud Games Done Quick for coming onboard and making it clear that this was something to look for and develop in the future."

  Several speedrunners who run live streams at Awesome Games Done Quick in June 2018.



At Awesome Games Done Quick in June 2018 several Speedrunners will be streamed live. Photo: Games Done Quick

"Our average donor is historically in the mid '60s," adds Wells. "And the average streamer is not. It's still a new channel to engage people – people who are not in this world and have never seen or heard of Twitch. They really do not understand it until they can see it.

Retention is a challenge for charities where donors are less likely to sign up for recurring donations. "But I see that every year at Summer Games Done Quick, an annual gift is made, and that happens over and over again," says Wells. "Sometimes we think we have to get people into the channels that make us feel good [like direct mail or telephone]. But this channel is good; We just have to develop it to be more robust.

Streamers also benefit from associations with charities, such as any sponsor, company, or other. Streaming charities has become part of PR campaigns for upcoming or already popular games, while individual streamers often find opportunities to raise profile significantly or even distract criticism. Controversial streamer Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, for example, has raised substantial sums through live streams for various charities, including Save the Children and the HIV / AIDS Support Organization (RED).

"If someone wants to make a stream, they'll get some money and support our work, which is fantastic," says Wells. "However, if we work directly with someone, we try to remove older games from the ship. And we urge people to keep the stream decent – though people can interpret it in different ways. "

MSF is also working to integrate and apply the lessons of streaming into other aspects of fundraising. "We're about to release a streaming toolkit that will help with overlays, content, donation notifications and infographics," says Wells. "But we also turn to our traditional peer-to-peer fundraisers to try to add a streaming item."

"For example, if you have a charity concert for kids, they can activate Facebook Live and raise money on the 2,000 miles away grandparents, "he explains. "It really opens up for fundraising and streaming for a lot of different crowds."

Turner is happy to have been there at the beginning. "That's what I'm most proud of, everything I've done in my life, and I think that's pretty much the case for almost everyone else in the team," he says. "I'm definitely not going to sit here and say that every charity marathon exists because we started with Desert Bus – this was an idea that was bound to happen right where we got the technology.

"But to know we even played a bit, a small role that feels really good. "


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