A 56-hour gaming marathon against Alzheimer’s

Six friends will host a 56-hour non-stop gaming marathon broadcast live over the internet to raise as much money as they can for Alzheimer Nederland. TU/e students Cengizhan Can and Sander Klomp initiated the Dutch Game Marathon, which will be held between 20 and 22 September.

photo Lisa Weijers

They talked about if often, Sander Klomp (PhD candidate in the Video Coding and Architectures group at the department of Electrical Engineering) and Cengizhan Can (master’s student at Computer Science & Engineering): doing something for charity. And what better way to put one’s time to good use while having fun at the same time then to raise money with gaming? Or the be exact, gaming for 56 hours on end via a gamestream; gaming for advanced players, one could say.

The choice for a charity, Alzheimer Nederland, was an easy one. “Both my grandfather and my great-aunt suffered from Alzheimer’s disease,” says Klomp. “Everyone knows someone with Alzheimer’s, it’s a terrible disease.”

More and more friends joined the initiative started by the two TU/e students. The team - the Dutch Game Marathon Crew - currently consists of six people. “Most of us know each other from high school,” Can says. Some of the team members are students, others have jobs, in short, people form various stages of life. “We hardly ever meet at the same location; our meetings are always remote.”

They will stream the 56-hour non-stop marathon live from Deprez, a building where Tilburg University, de Persgroep and Fontys are situated. The marathon will start on Friday, September the 20th, 16:00 hrs., and will last until Sunday, September the 22nd at midnight. Nice timing, because Saturday 21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day.

Mario on your voicemail

The gamers will try to raise as much money as they can during the marathon, for instance by auctioning gaming merchandise, which they got from several different companies. “We started with nothing of course, didn’t have the street-cred to fall back on,” Can says.

“Game developer Ubisoft was the first company that provided us with material to give away.” Klomp: “Ubisoft really is a major player in the gaming industry, we were lucky to get their help, because others followed after that.” When asked about their favorite goodies, Can answers without the slightest hesitation: “The voice actor of Mario Bros offered to record your voicemail, for example.” He hastens to add that Nintendo expressly prohibited him from actually sounding like Mario, “but real fans will instantly recognize his voice.”

A visit from streamers

The six team members will game in eight-hour shifts. “You need to get some sleep every now and then as well,” Klomp says. They also managed to convince several well-known streamers to stop by to appear as guests during the marathon. Can: “Nobody knows who we are, but those influencers have an enormous following. The most famous streamer to stop by is Achterklap, he has about 31,000 followers on Twitch and 93,000 on YouTube.”

‘Forgotten’ games

The team decided to play games that fit thematically with Alzheimer’s and are linked to memory loss or misplaced objects. Think ofThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, NieR: Automata and SOMA. But Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart and Super Metroid will also be played during the 56-hour marathon.

The team initially hoped to raise about 1.000 euros, but by now the bar has been raised somewhat. Can: “Our goal is to raise 3.000 euros, but we actually have no idea how much we will raise. Charity streams are huge in the US, they easily raise 2 million dollars there. Here, it’s all still in its infancy.”

A counter will keep a tally of the score on the livestream. The bearded team members promised to shave their beards the moment the team reaches the figure of 6.000 euros. Can takes it a step further: “I’ll shave my entire head when we reach 15k!”

The Dutch Game Marathon will be held between 20 and 22 September. You can follow it live via www.twitch.tv/gamemarathonNL.

For more info see: https://www.dutchgamemarathon.nl/.

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