This is another question we’re asked quite frequently. Many people think that it’s quite easy to put on a marathon like we do, and it is…before the marathon starts. I’ll explain what I mean shortly, but for now we’ll start from the beginning.
First, and most importantly, you need to make sure you have some reliable friends who will help you. Whether it be playing some games or commentating during the marathon just make sure your friends are totally free for the marathon and reliable. There is nothing worse then have someone ditch out on you mid-marathon because “no one is watching” or they’re “tired.”
Fun Fact: Phil, MSico, was originally just a viewer/donor who was friends with someone in TSG, so when TSG needed a member to help play Twilight Princess he was quick to help out.
Second, figure out a good charity or cause you want to the marathon to benefit. When we first started out we checked a site called Charity Navigator. The site allowed us to see the breakdown of charities expenses as well how much their CEO’s and Presidents got paid in relation to the amount the charity received that year. For example: Direct Relief International, the charity set for our Star Wars Marathon, uses 98.8% of their revenue towards their program expenses. Program expenses usually are the main core of what the charity is trying to accomplish, so in the case of Direct Relief International we can assume that it’s providing relief efforts to areas that need it. Only 0.6% of their revenue is used for administrative costs; this is paying people, bills, and other necessary services the organization needs to keep their doors open.
Third, make a presentable email address. Charities and Press won’t take you seriously if you are communicating through the email”xXunisexanarchyXx@gmail.com” (just made that up, sorry if it’s real). You need a way to communicate that is professional. Make it your name or name the group and use that, either way ditch that email address you made in 6th grade.
Fun Fact: Before creating a Gmail account for TSG, Britt’s original email address was “Legolas_1341”
Fourth, contact the charity or cause months ahead of time. This provides you several benefits: 1. It allows you to make sure your charity is set. 2. It gives the charity or cause time to setup anything they need (They will need at least a paypal). 3. It alerts the charity about your event, and many charity will be happy to promote your event on their site or social account.
Fun Fact: TSG has helped raise money for 14 different charities, soon to be 15.
Fifth, pick a streaming service. There are really only 3 main choices here: Justin.TV, Ustream.TV, or Livestream. I would personally recommend one of the first two choices, but since each service offers their own features you should review each and make your own decision.
Fun Fact: TSG started out on Justin.TV before switching to Ustream.TV. After an issue battling automatic ads, TSG switched back to Justin.TV
Sixth, setup a ChipIn or other donation collection service. You need a way to get the donations to the charity. Hopefully the charity has a Paypal account already setup. If not, try requesting them to do so. Once they give you the Paypal email, sign up for a ChipIn.com account. This is the simplest way so far that we’ve found to do this, but there are other sites and methods.
Seventh, put together a website. Now that you have your stream setup and a Chipin setup, it’s time to combine it all. Your site should look as professional and be as concise as possible. There are tons of free website hosts out there with easy creator tools to help you, but for best results I recommend buckling down and learning to code or just get a friend who already knows how. I would also think about setting up your own domain as well as your own hosting plan. This is because people will probably be much more weary about donating to you when the url is gamingforgood.webs.com rather than gamingforgood.com (just made those up also, sorry if those too are real). We use Dreamhost.com for hosting, and their prices are pretty competitive, so if you’re in the market try them out.. The show and donation are key though, so make them easily viewable and accessible.
Fun Fact: TSG started out on blogger.com.
Eighth, promote promote promote. Unless you’re okay with only having your relatives watching you and donating, you need to get the word out about your marathon. Easily the best, most professional, and most effective way, to do this is to write up a press release to send out to media outlets. Send the press release to gaming news sites, and to fan sites related to the games or series you’ll be playing. You should also contact your local news stations and newspapers, that’s a good way to get the word out in your area. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get any coverage though, this is normal, you have to keep at it and make a name for yourself.
Ninth, create a gaming and commentating schedule. Believe or not, it’s extremely hard to play games for 72 hours straight. Create a shift-like schedule where you and your friends don’t get so worn out you all become obnoxious to each other. Playing until you complete the game works only with some games, and some games are so short you can double up or even triple games in a shift. Choose a reasonable amount of time for gaming and commentating, then make a schedule rotating people out making sure they have enough time to sleep.
Fun Fact: Our 2009 week long Final Fantasy marathon holds some of our longest times ever spent playing at a single time. I played for 23 hours.
Tenth, Do the marathon and bring backup consoles. This is the hard part, not because it’s difficult on your endurance but because it tests your willpower and your friendships. It’s fun at first, but over time it gets frustrating, tensions rise, there’s always a lack of sleep, emergencies come up with your friends, and consoles sometimes fry. You’re going to get irritated, but just remember you’re doing this for a good cause. Once you’re done, you and your friends will feel better for it.
That about covers it. Good luck!