Mountain View Voice

News - October 25, 2013

Gamers play around the clock for a good cause

Hacker Dojo hosts marathon games to raise funds for kids in hospitals

by Daniel DeBolt

Last week a room inside Mountain View's Hacker Dojo was turned into the site of the third annual "Indie Games For Good," a marathon of independent video game playing that raises money for games and toys for kids in hospitals.

A group of gamers known as "Cloudboat Armada" put a team of over 20 gamers to work in shifts around the clock, playing for 89 hours straight and raising $10,380 for the Child's Play, a group which provides games and toys to children to make their stays more enjoyable in over 70 hospitals around the world.

The event was broadcast live online from the Dojo. Over 50 independent video game developers were lined up to come and be interviewed during the event every hour between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. for several days. Organizer Elena Churilov said video game enthusiasts from all over the world tuned in to chat with the group and make requests for video games to play.

"IGG is an opportunity to share games and have fun, while at the same time having a real positive effect on the world," Churilov said.

"It's definitely a mutually beneficial situation," said Brendan Mauro, one of the game developers who was invited for an interview. On Friday afternoon, Oct. 18, he was able to publicize his San Francisco-based company's new game, Extrasolar, which allows players to drive a rover on a fictional planet where life is believed to exist, while uncovering the motives of "a private space agency with a shadowy past."

"We have a strong interest in science and space and we would love it if more people were interested," Mauro said of the game, which he says has many details based on NASA research. "This is our small part to assist in that."

Churilov started the event with Shamayel Daoud and Matthew Rasmussen (Rasmussen came up with the idea) three years ago, running the event inside a friend's home. Needless to say, the group says it is thrilled to have the Dojo's ultra-fast internet connection to allow for higher quality video streaming.

The event has plenty of publicity and interest because of the nature of the independent video game community. Independent game developers work alone or in small groups — some "wildly successful" financially and others just working as hobbyists — but almost always communicating with other developers or fans online.

The event has a wide reach. Because it continues around the clock, "We hit every time zone," Churilov said, so, for example, European gamers chat with the group in the middle of the night.

The marathon ended at 5:24 a.m. on Oct. 21. For more information, visit iggmarathon.com.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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