Thirty Years Ago Six Dudes Played the First Charity Video Game Marathon
In a modern era where a team of gamers (LoadingReadyRun) spend almost six straight days playing and webcasting the most boring game in the world (Desert Bus) and at the end of it raise more than $200,000 to give toys, games, books, and craft supplies to sick kids (Child’s Play), it’s good to remember that things have not always been so.
Which is not to say that gamers haven’t always had the same percentage of righteous and generous individuals, but just that the internet has not been available, and the young medium was even younger. But that didn’t keep a few individuals from marching down to their arcade on January 2nd, 1981 and playing Asteroids until they’d raised enough money to pay for a local teen’s gravestone.
The participants — The Hill high school students Dan Arch, Jan Trunzo, and Rob Kovach, along with friends Andy Galamba and Bruce Walters — played in four hour shifts, and accepted donations for the family of 18-year-old Leo Wampole, who died Christmas day of pneumonia complicated by cerebral palsy. Remarkably, none of them had ever even met Wampole.
Wampole’s family had been given a free burial service by a local funeral parlor, but there was no money for a marker. The improptu Asteroids binge managed to cover the expense, even though it had to be cut short at 132 hours when the participants’ winter vacation ended and school began.
Humble beginnings. Have we mentioned that Child’s Play raised $1,853,894.59 by December 22nd?