Mario Marathon 3 was made of win

Last night, as Mario Marathon 3 was drawing to a close, Brian announced that it is likely that the Mario Marathon series will remain a trilogy.  After over 250 hours of gaming across the three marathons, raising approximately $113,000 for Child’s Play Charity, the stress has become too much.  There can be no doubt that what Mario Marathon has accomplished is incredible, but with the increased strains on family life, it’s hard to keep something like this going.

For myself, I am terribly sad to think that this might be the end.  It’s been a great deal of fun interacting with the fans and being a part of the great Mario Marathon mission.  I’ve made many friends and had great opportunities (who else gets to talk to both Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day in the same weekend?), but I know how much work goes in behind the scenes.  I’ve seen Brian spend his time working on code, publicity, prizes, decorations, etc.  I’ve watched him spend his own money buying equipment to improve the quality of the stream for the viewers.  Most importantly, I’ve seen the pain that he and Shanna feel when they send their two-year-old son to grandma’s for days.  I could never ask anyone to make the kind of commitments that Brian and Shanna have made these past three years.

Still, it has been for a worthy cause, and I know everyone involved is proud of what has been done.  All of the Mario Marathon team are very giving, not only of their money, but of themselves.  I have no reason to believe that Mario Marathon is completely dead.  I believe it will be re-born in a different form, likely smaller and less intense, but some part of it will live on.  Certainly the awareness, and the community it fostered, will be the lasting legacy.

I had intended this post to be a recap of all the fun times I had during the past week.  I got to work with some great people, and I have now done two celebrity interviews.  I’ve experienced the joys of watching donations come in faster than we could keep up, and the frustration of power outages.  This has been a great experience for me, and one that I won’t forget.

To all of you who donated and/or interacted with us, thank you.  Despite the sacrifices of the team (and their families!), the real success of the Mario Marathon has come from the fans.  It is the 2000+ donors from around the world who have made the true difference in the lives of so many children.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to the chat moderators, who did a tremendous job of keeping the IRC room family-friendly (even when 4Chan showed up).  These guys deprived themselves of sleep and leisure, too, all in the name of helping.  They asked no reward (although we’re cooking up something for them anyway), and put in many hours of labor.  @Collin1000 put forth a lot of effort, too, keeping track of donations on a Google spreadsheet and crunching numbers for us.

It’s crazy to think that sitting in my friend’s living room and reading messages from strangers on the Internet has earned me any fans, or has contributed to the well-being of children across the world, but it’s apparently true.  There is nothing that I’ve done in my life that I’m more proud of than the past two Mario Marathons, and to be a part of it has truly been an honor.

Dear Internet: thank you!  I love you all.

14 thoughts on “Mario Marathon 3 was made of win

  1. Proud to say that I was a part of it for the entire trilogy. Now that the marathon may be dead, I hope we can still be Twitter pals.

  2. I can totally understand that a marathon like this requires a lot of work and includes a ot of stress but I still really hope you guys arrange MM4 in 2011. Brian was very tired when he said there won’t be any more Mario Marathons like this one and maybe next year under “normal” circumstances he’ll see it in another way again. I hope so and I’m looking forward to this.
    If there will really be no more marathons I would like to remind you of your (jokey) offer to just sit around on a stream and talk to us via the chat, social stream, etc. No gaming, no stress and no sleep deprivation. I’d watch it and many other people too I assume.

    Oh and I think you should thank collin1000/Stats Guy in the blogpost as well, he made a really nice chart during the whole event.

    Thanks for doing this marathon. You guys are responsible for probably the best 4-5 days in the year. Seriously, thank you very much.

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  4. I will miss it if this year really is the last one. To be honest, after watching brian and john nearly going crazy last year, I doubt the donations would have reached to those blue coin levels when I saw the website, but the Internet proved me wrong (by a mile). As much as I loved the potential amount of money you guys could have achieved, I really did not want to see brian in the similar state to what he was last year!

    There were just so many highlights this year that my head hurts just trying to get it down on paper. I’d just like to say that it was great to see everyone again in brian’s living room, raising a crazy amount of money that will help so many children.

  5. How could I forget Collin?! I’ve added a shout out to him and a link to the spreadsheet. If you’re interested in watching Sundeep and I have pointless chatter with the Internet, follow @OSMacTalk on Twitter to see when our next show is.

  6. First off I want to say that I’m grateful both for myself and my family and friends as well as on behalf of the countless children whose lives you’ve made better to everyone involved with the marathon.

    I am also very thankful for all the effort Brian put in this year.

    But that being said I think Brian went over the top this year. I don’t know where this expectation that it has to keep getting bigger comes from – whether externally or internally imposed this idea is one of a potential Mario Marathon 4’s greatest enemies. Brian and the rest have built not just a wonderful event but a strong foundation for future events, and that foundation doesn’t need to be expanded. There’s a lot that Brian did for this marathon that a Mario Marathon 4 would get along just fine without (which is not to say we’re unappreciative). Here’s a few…

    Publicity. I was watching when your news story hit the airwaves and the effect on viewers and donations did not seem significant. As fun as it was having the news crew join in, any extra work or stress actively looking for that kind of attention was ultimately perhaps not worth it. Let Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, The Huffington Post, and your legions of viewers get the word out. Given the huge donation spike at the end you no longer need, as participants, to invest time, effort, and stress into publicity. Let the interwebs who desperately want some version of this event to continue, do that little bit of heavy lifting for you. Heck, it might make you a more highly sought commodity if THEY (the media) have to chase YOU now.

    Prizing. Again, this is extraneous. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait until my Star Get t-shirt arrives but spending money and working hard on getting prizing is extraneous. I can’t imagine many people donated that which they would not have otherwise donated just at the chance for a prize. ThinkGeek provided free prizing based on the strength of the event – let that be the model for how you get prizing. Zero cost, low maintenance.

    Props. Things like the FLUDD and Propeller helmet (got the spelling correct that time!) while epically awesome are likewise extraneous. The time and cost put into those, while appreciated, need not recur.

    Sleep Get. One thing I would really like to see improved on a potential Mario Marathon 4 would be the addition of at least 1 more full-time gamer and a more rigidly enforced sleep schedule. There were many times I wanted to tell John to go get some sleep when there were other people playing. I felt so bad for you and Brian in the wee small hours of the morning after having already stayed awake for so long. 1 extra player (I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find volunteers) would mean more sleep for everyone and just making John get some proper sleep (tiny naps are no good) would hopefully take a load off of the physical demands during the event.

    I know this doesn’t address some of the fundamental issues of time off during the event, family commitments during the event, and venue if you need/want to relocate; only the Mario Marathon team can tackle those issues but rather than letting the Mario Marathon die, just get back to basics. You guys have the technology and the software, it works great. Don’t constantly look for improvements or the next big thing – just keep what you’ve got working. You’ve made it – coast a little, don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t even push the wheel any faster, just maintain the wheel.

    We want the event to continue and if people feel as I do we want to make it easier on you guys to pull it off. We don’t just want the event to continue because it’s wickedly entertaining (which it is) but because the cause spoke to us. You keep saying it’s the internet that made the donations happen but Brian and the gang deserves enormous credit for bringing us all together, giving us a goal, and making it happen. The event has clearly gained huge momentum; let that momentum carry you forward. Don’t feel that you have to add to it or even do as much as you’ve done in the past. Just maintain your precious creation. Brian put his full heart and soul into expanding and upgrading this thing this year and it nearly ran him over. Just keep it alive, the internet will bring the epic.

  7. @cow_man you make some great points. I don’t know what Brian’s thought process was, but I would hazard a guess that he’s concerned that doing a smaller Mario Marathon might cheapen the brand. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s his thought or not.

    What I do know is that Brian and all of us were tired and stressed. Let’s give it a few weeks to settle, and then we’ll see where we stand. It means a lot that everyone wants another installment, it’s good to know that the efforts are appreciated.

  8. I can appreciate the concern about cheapening the brand but I also think it was applying a business mindset to an interactive charity event is a big part of what lead to stress and expectations.

    I’m in no rush to get any kind of definitive answer, I just appreciate you giving my points some thought and then perhaps, when the time is right, perhaps passing them on to Brian if they can be helpful.

    I didn’t mean to make such a huge comment, it kind of got away from me. Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. I think you guys are absolutely amazing, and I find myself continually surprised at just how close to my heart this event and all of you that work so hard on it have become. It’s been a struggle for me to not fall into tears at the idea that Mario Marathon may not continue — although I completely understand the reasons why it may not. Family has to come first, and I can only imagine what it must be like to not be able to “escape” (for lack of a better word) such an intense situation.

    However, with that in mind, I wonder if an alternative route could be explored at all. I was talking this over with my mom, and we wondered whether or not any hotels in the area would be interested in helping out in the name of charity. It’s not uncommon for businesses to make accommodations for non-profit groups. Maybe in a few months, when you guys have recovered from the physical and mental exhaustion of the endeavor, this could be an option worth looking into. There has to be at least one hotel in the area that would be willing to host the event for you. That way the burden wouldn’t be entirely on Brian and Shanna to sacrifice their personal lives for the event; they could show up for a few hours and then go back to their lives, as everyone else involved is able to do.

    In any event, I’m really touched to have been a part of this (if from a distance) for all three years of its existence. What you guys have done has moved me in a huge way. I can’t thank you all enough for taking the time out of your lives to help so many people — not only the children that will benefit from the donations, but also those of us that you called together for a great cause. You guys all have a very special place in my heart. I sincerely hope we’ll be seeing you again sometime in the future.

    Be proud of yourselves. You deserve it.

  10. @Cow_man:

    No worries. The fact that you care enough to wrote such a lengthy comment is itself a sign of how much this event has come to mean to people. I’ll definitely be sharing all of the comments I get with Brian.


    I know the idea of a hotel has been discussed before, and I think the limiting factor was the Internet connection. Upload bandwidth disappears quickly when you try to do a stream, and the (perhaps incorrect) assumption is that hotels don’t have much more of an upload pipe than residences do (at least nont once the fact that the usage pool is larger is taken into account).

    Regardless, rest comfortably in the knowledge that there’s already been discussion of what can be done to keep Mario Marathon going next year. In what form it will be, I can’t say, but there will be _something_ next year, even if it’s just me talking to a camera while my wife plays Super Mario World over and over again.

  11. The hotel idea, in my mind, has 3 possible applications…

    1) Get a room and run the marathon in the room
    2) Get a room for the duration of the event for sleeping
    3) Get a conference room and run the marathon there – hopefully a well equipped conference room / business center would have the technology and infrastructure

    Alternatively a local venue of a different stripe might be willing to provide space – a community center, movie theater, or bar (i.e. a Mana Bar wannabe).

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