A thirty-year-old Asteroids marathon may have paved the way for the videogame charity events of today.
With videogame marathons like Desert Bus for Hope raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities around the world today, did you ever wonder where they all got started? A new report from 1up may have uncovered the very first, which took place 30 years ago.
On January 2, 1981, six gamers played an Asteroids arcade machine for more than five straight days at the Gold Mine arcade in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the marathon was to raise money for the family of 18-year-old Leo Wampole who died on Christmas day of pneumonia complicated by cerebral palsy.
The six gamers took four-hour shifts and placed a bucket nearby to collect donations. None of the six knew Wampole, and organized the event simply to help a family in need.
After 132 hours and an uncountable number of destroyed asteroids, the marathon collected hundreds of dollars for the Wampole family. It could have gone on for longer, but a few of the participants had to return to school. Thirty years later, the same idea is still bringing in gobs of money for important charities such as Child’s Play, and it may have all started in a small arcade with a group of noble gamers.