I’ve been gaming since around the age of five, and up until last November I thought I had achieved some of the most rewarding and inspiring moments of my gaming life: catching ’em all the first time, vanquishing Ganon for the first time, the list goes on. But something happened over the course of 48 hours from November 19 to November 21 that easily put all of those achievements to shame and replaced the pride of succeeding and accomplishment with the pride of our medium and community making a difference.
The source of this pride was an event called Cure-Con, a 48-hour gaming marathon held at Morrisville State College in Cayuga Hall’s common lounge which I was fortunate to not only participate in, but also help found and setup. Cure-Con was set up and run similarly to Sarcastic Gamer’s Extra Life. Founded in 2008 and occurring every year since then, Extra Life strives to raise money for children’s hospitals by encouraging gamers to seek out sponsors who will pay them by-the-hour for playing video games for 24 hours during one weekend in October. In addition to the 24-hour gaming marathon, Extra Life plans a get-together every year at PAX PRIME in Seattle, WA, with all proceeds going to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
At Cure-Con, gamers played whatever games they could muster for as long as they could manage to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In order to secure a station in the lounge, gamers had to either sign up in teams or by themselves and secure at least a sponsor who had pledged to pay whatever hourly rate they desired. During the event, teams had log sheets to keep track of how many hours each of their members had played during the event.
Participants were let in an hour before kick-off to grab their signs, set up their stations, hook up their systems and brace themselves for the endurance test to come. It felt like the calm before the storm or, to quote a particular White Wizard, the deep breath before the plunge. Being president of MSC’s Gaming Guild I rounded up some members to form our team. To get them into the mood, I brought down my iHome and started blaring remixed video game music and Original Soundtracks from Zelda, Pokemon, Mass Effect and so on while The Guild–or so we called ourselves–and myself set to work on hooking up our systems. In a matter of minutes we had a few power strips completely used up powering a few TVs (from flat screen HD TVs to my old Cathode Ray Tube clunker) and a slew of consoles (my N64, GameCube and Wii alongside an Xbox360 and a couple of PS3s)
The anticipation for this event to start was overbearing and damn-near intolerable; the atmosphere around the room at that time was something I can’t describe as anything other than magical and inspiring. Sure the 20-30 gamers setting up their plastic instruments, controllers, TVs and consoles would likely be doing this in the privacy of their own rooms or groups anyways seeing how it was a Friday night, but there was something different about this. They weren’t gaming for their own entertainment this time though, they were playing video games for a chance at making a difference in some stranger’s life, no matter how small the chance or the difference may be.
After a few words from the event hosts–former Student Government Organization President Stephen Paravati and former SGO Vice-President Oladipo Famuyiwa–the event kicked off to the sweet sound of buttons clicking and clacking feverishly and various other sound effects ranging from the hilarious hi-jinks of Super Smash Bros. Brawl to the exclamations of Kupo coming from some iteration of Final Fantasy. Students from across campus stopped by to take a look at the dorm lounge– now packed nearly to double its capacity with gamers and their consoles occupying every electrical outlet and power strip along the wall–and to keep us gaming gurus company (or secretly laugh at us, but I prefer thinking the former).
While I spent most of my first few hours alternating between taking on all challengers in Brawl, trying to get back to my speed-run through Ocarina of Time and flitting between stations watching other gamers play I couldn’t help but feel proud of the gaming community – our community. It didn’t matter how many hours we were able to put in, if our favorite game/console/company differed in any way, or the various backgrounds we all came from, we were all in the same lounge playing all sorts of different video games for the same goal – to have fun and raise money for a worthy cause.
At the event, gamers played a large variety of titles, including–but not limited to–Guitar Hero, Rock band, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, World of Warcraft, Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart Wii, Super Street Fighter IV, and Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2.
After a good 14 hours of Brawling, and playing Zelda I took my first break and crashed on the couch set up for The Guild’s station after my weariness started causing missteps in the Fire Temple (not the best place to be randomly careening off ledges and bridges) and less-than-graceful Brawl matches and ninja bouts. When I came to after a few hours of sleep I saw many people still going at it and others taking a page out of my book and sleeping sitting up or on couches, of course it was around midday on Saturday, so there weren’t many spectators roaming around keeping gamers company at their stations, but it was still pretty crowded in the lounge.
The event carried on throughout Saturday night–at which point I vanquished Ganon once again–and Sunday morning. At 7 PM on Sunday November 21 Cure-Con came to its conclusion, much to the dismay of those of us who had assignments we had to finish or just simply wanted to keep gaming in the lounge. We raised around $100 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (not much, but much better than nothing at all) and even had a couple of dedicated souls who stayed up for close to the full 48 hours. While it was a somber and saddening sight to see the TVs and consoles being unplugged and lugged back to their respective rooms of origin, it was–at the same time–also a chance to look back and realize that the video gaming community is capable of more than just playing games, and that video games have some sort of meaning beyond entertainment value.
The event left me so inspired and motivated that I plan to take up the challenge of organizing the event again in the coming months at MSC even though those who helped host and organize it last year have graduated and moved on to greener pastures. It was then I started branching out some more and started looking around the internet looking for ideas and other charities out there and found a lot of organizations and fundraisers to grab ideas from.
If any of you are ever looking for ideas on how to start a fundraiser like Cure-Con or looking for a charity to donate to, check out the following links. Additionally, if you are interested in participating in this year’s Extra Life, check out their info page. Note that this year, proceeds raised during Extra Life goes towards the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of the gamer’s choosing.
Mass Effect Marathon 2