I perceive that most gamers watch Let’s Play videos, or have done so at least once since the inception of the concept. For the uninitiated, a Let’s Play video is a video, or series of videos, wherein players play video games with commentary meant to either be informative, insightful, funny, or anything in between.

Let’s Play is also abbreviated LP, and is largely credited as being a product of the Something Awful forums, and user Michael “slowbeef” Sawyer. For further reference, PewDiePie is one of the most well-known LP’ers in the world.

I have been watching LPs on and off for years, and when I’ve found a commenter I like, I try to watch more stuff by them. I’ve never desired to watch PewDiePie, and in truth I don’t care for the ones who are immensely popular, because they tend to disconnect and grow egos.

Psychedelic Eyeball is still a favorite of mine, and he’s been doing LPs for at least 12 years. Through a hilarious Worms Armageddon tournament he ran, I found Jon “Proton Jon” Wheeler. In a convoluted series of events that culminated in my needing a little YouTube-based memory jog for running A Link to the Past on my SNES classic, I discovered a blind LttP run being done by TheRunawayGuys, a group consisting of Proton Jon, Emile “Chuggaaconroy” Rosales-Birou, and Tim “NintendoCapriSun” Bishop. Chugga had never played LttP, which blew my mind, and got me watching the video, and laughing at his incompetence at finding items and progressing. This then led me to look over their playlists and decide to subscribe to their channel, the first such subscription with notifications that I’ve ever had on YouTube. Chugga’s failures when it comes to guessing Wheel of Fortune puzzles has caused me to have some of the biggest laughing fits I’ve ever had.

I told that story to tell this story; last year, the trio convened a number of their fellow LPers, including MasaeAnela, the 8-Bit Drummer, FamilyJules, and others, for a charity stream run on Twitch, called the Colosseum. They raised over $112,000 for Direct Relief in a three day gaming marathon. This year, they convened again from May 3 - May 6 to try to do even better.

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In this stream, with certain donation incentives, viewers could enable challenges within the various games. For example, on day one, the 8-Bit Drummer did a stretch goal that, if reached during his segment, would result in him having to play Through the Fire and the Flames by Dragonforce. It got there. Lower incentives included forcing players to wear oven mitts, get sprayed in the face with water, hold the controller upside down, and so on. Each game would bring with it different incentives to keep it fresh.

In addition, there would be humorous bumpers featuring the crew, as well as the evil overlord Lord Don’Ator, who ‘may or may not’ be the alter ego of Tom Fawkes, and threatens action upon a lamp to get donations.

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I did not view the stream during its live broadcast due to computer limitations, but Chugga is uploading the stream game by game into the YouTube channel daily, cleaning up downtime issues and the like, while making it easier to watch than trying to work through Twitch’s cumbersome sorting and search system.

This year, the stream generated more than $175k in donations, blowing away last year’s haul. In this day and age, where our society is becoming increasingly divided, and where gamers are being represented as people like PewDiePie, who have racism issues, or others that have child pornography habits, and still more that use their notoriety to harm others, genuine good like this is overlooked. To the world at large, gamers are still too often seen as losers, virgins, and anti-social.

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TheRunawayGuys have less than half a million subscribers, so they run just a bit under the radar, but Chugga himself has over a million subscribers and his own Wikipedia entry, a fact that amazed me when I discovered it. In doing this stream, the trio and their associates help disprove the negative notions about gamers, and show that the gaming community is very generous, and full of better people than the news would have the average person believe.

Next year, the sights are sure to be higher. With dedicated people who are entertaining and creative, there is little doubt that they can grow even more successful.

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The entire stream can be found here if you don’t want to wait for Chugga.

Update (6/20/19): Final video is up. Final total $178,107.

Update (6/21/19): There was a bonus video! A Mario 64 star collecting challenge that brought the final number all the way to $183,790.