On Charity Video Game Marathons

On Twitter and the like, various members of the speedrunning community have given their thoughts on the seeming glut of marathons in the community. Because I am a shameless trendchaser, these are my own thoughts on it.

I have joked on Twitter about my less-than-stringent methods for choosing whether or not I will participate in a gaming charity marathon. While this is an exaggeration, I do really like charity marathons and try to participate in as many as I can, to the point that Mrs. Emptyeye once asked me “Can you please have a week where you’re NOT involved in a marathon?” Some of this is due to my involvement in Rize Up Gaming, which holds a marathon (Most of it not speedrunning-related, save when I decide to play Metroid II or some other game I’m decent at running) every month. Even before I joined Rize Up, though, I was of the opinion that there’s no such thing as “too many marathons”.

Really, this so called “glut” of marathons is nothing new. For the last several years, you could find a gaming marathon going on every weekend if you looked hard enough. The big issue people seem to be having is a perceived increase in marathons dedicated to speedrunning over the last three months. But even in 2012, you had the Lindsey Layne Kingathon, #smw, and the Sandython within roughly a month of one another. So the saturation issue isn’t just popping up now, as much as people are suddenly paying more attention for one reason or another.

The other main concern about this concerns people who only want to do marathons for exposure, and don’t take the time to polish their runs to a high level. I’ve noted before that I lack the holier-than-thou how-dare-I-get-paid-for-something-I-like-to-do reservations a lot of the speedrunning community seems to have about an individual speedrunner getting popular/streaming as their job/whatever (I am very much the Gene Simmons of the speedrunning community. Accuse me of being a sellout and my response will be “Yeah, and what’s wrong with that?”), so I’m not exactly sure what the issue here is. As long as people know going in that being in a speedrunning marathon (Up to and including a Games Done Quick) is not a guarantee of future superstardom, and do some research on the charity (If there is one) being represented, let them, I say.

As for people not practicing their runs, well, there are reasons the GDQs now have not one, but two “rules” relating to practice. This is always going to be a concer, even in the “big” marathons. That’s just the risk you run in letting people into marathons.

In sum, I don’t think the “glut” of marathons is either A. A glut, or B. Necessarily a bad thing. The more, the merrier, I say!


1 comment

    • Corvak on September 14, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I agree 100%.

    Marathons have been going regularly for years – I remember one of the first streams I watched was a marathon run by a group called The Speed Gamers – if they didn’t do the first one, they most certainly made the idea popular. Saying there are “too many” marathons, is like saying there are too many games, too many movies, too many of any kind of media. Just because it exists, doesn’t mean you have to consume it. Some people will run a small marathon, raise a few hundred dollars for their cause, and have fun doing it.

    When you consider streaming “for profit” or whatnot, I think it depends. As a viewer, i’ll watch streams, and i’ll let the ads run. Running ads for personal benefit during a charity stream seems a bit much, though. (99% of the charity marathons put this money to their charity.) The one thing i’d like to see, is for all streamers to be able to access these “partner” programs, not just an exclusive club chosen by Twitch.

    That said, I tend to find something special about watching someone streaming for the sake of streaming, not to earn money. The level of interaction you get between the chat and a streamer when the audience is small is something I like about watching streams – one reason I avoid the huge 200+ streams most of the time.

    Which brings me to a final point – the whole “marathon so I can go to a marathon” trend. I have to say, i’ll likely never donate to one of these. I feel like i’m being asked to pay for someone’s vacation here, and i’d rather just donate to the charity itself. Nothing wrong with these events existing, I just don’t feel the need to support them.

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