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Gaming marathon raises $1.3m for charity

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Summer Games Done Quick 2016 featured around 175 speed-runs of video games over seven days, scooping nearly $1.3 million for Doctors Without Borders.
Summer Games Done Quick 2016 featured around 175 speed-runs of video games over seven days, scooping nearly $1.3 million for Doctors Without Borders.

Charity gaming marathon Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) closed on Sunday, having raised just under $1.3 million ($1 297 924 or about R19 million) for Doctors Without Borders - the most the mid-year gaming marathon has ever raised.

The event brought in an additional $55 677 selling the SGDQ 2016 Humble Bundle: a collection of games sold via a "pay what you want" model, a portion of the payments going to charity and the remainder being split between the game developers, who are typically independent from mainstream gaming labels.

SGDQ and its (Northern Hemisphere) Winter counterpart, Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), are speed-running gaming marathons in which players volunteer to live broadcast themselves finishing video games as fast as they can, to attract donations for charity.

While a limited number of viewers can physically attend the GDQ events - generally hosted at hotels or conference centres - to watch the gamers play in person, any number can watch live streams of the games via streaming platform Twitch. Videos of all broadcasts are also uploaded on YouTube after completion.

Following the success of the January 2010 charity speed-running marathon Speed Demos Archive, which raised over $10 000 for humanitarian agency Care, AGDQ and SGDQ debuted in 2011, raising about $53 000 and $21 000 for respectively for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and the Organisation for Autism Research.

In their sixth year running, each marathon scooped over $1.2 million in 2016, AGDQ's donations having gone to the Prevent Cancer Foundation every year. The marathons have also increased in length, AGDQ from five to seven days, and SGDQ from two to seven days.

SGDQ 2016 featured around 175 speed-runs from 3 to 10 July. The marathons focus largely on vintage or children's games which can be completed in a matter of minutes rather than hours, and often have a cult following due to their nostalgia factor.

This year's SGDQ received a boost from US TV show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which held a "three-legged race" between host Colbert, gamer Mitch Fowler, and an athletics team from Columbia University, challenging Fowler to complete 1998 Nintendo console game Super Mario Bros 3 before the Columbia relay team could run a mile or Colbert could microwave and eat a Hot Pocket, a type of US pastry. The audience laughed and cheered as Colbert managed to polish off the Hot Pocket first, burning his tongue in the close competition.

Awesome Games Done Quick is scheduled for 8-15 January 2017, and will be physically hosted in Herndon, Virginia.

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