While many choose to reign in the new year with the ball drop in Times Square, the Respawn Point team and hundreds of viewers worldwide prefer a slightly different celebration. As I write this very article, the fourth annual Sonic Marathon is just a couple days away from completing its yearly week-long charity marathon.
Sonic Marathon 4 (or as it’s properly named, “Sonic Marathon 4: Episode 1”) is a non-stop barrage of games starring the famous blue hedgehog in an effort to raise money for charity. In addition to the continuous stream of games, the marathon offers various community events, such as donation challenges and daily raffles. At the end of the marathon, one lucky donor will win a grand prize on Saturday, January 4th at 3:oo PM GMT.
Zack Harrot, the founder of Respawn Point, is joined by Dan Bowhay, Ash Blackledge, and Jay Zeach to play Sonic games until they drop. No game is off-limits, no matter how much the players may despise certain titles. The team has divided themselves into a day shift (Dan and Ash) and a night shift (Zack and Jay) to ensure that their global audience always has fresh players to watch.
Unlike previous years, which raised money for Child’s Play Charity, Respawn Point has chosen a new recipient for their fourth year of hedgehog madness: Special Effect, an organization that provides assistance for disabled individuals in their use of computers, video games, and other forms of technology. All of Sonic Marathon’s proceeds go directly to Special Effect, without the team touching a single cent of the money they raise. As of this writing, the team has raised $3,550, surpassing both their original $2,500 goal and the secondary $3,500 goal.
Respawn Point also runs multiple challenges and contests for the community to participate in to maintain the energy level and solicit more donations. At this time, the Sonic Marathon is currently running the following incentives:
Community Contests: Raffles for anyone that contributes to the fundraising.
- Summer of Sonic Prize Bag Raffle: One ticket per every $5 donated (cumulative, no limit). One prize bag raffled off daily.
- Sonic Hits Collection Steam Raffle: One ticket per plug of the marathon (any social media, limit 3 tickets). Plugs must be linked to the Respawn Point team in order for tickets to be added. Raffle to take place at the end of the marathon.
- Nintendo 2DS Grand Prize Raffle: One ticket for $10 (cumulative, limit 1 ticket). Raffle to take place at the end of the marathon.
Hashtag Challenges: Tasks for the team to complete if a given amount of money is donated with the necessary hashtag in the donation comments.
- #Shadow: One member of the team (yet to be determined) will complete an additional story in Shadow the Hedgehog per every $200.
- #Unleashed: Jay will complete all Sonic Unleashed DLC for $200.
- #Penders: Zack will do a dramatic reading of a Ken Penders forum post per ever $50.
- #SaveJay vs. #DateTheBirds: Donor bidding war to determine if Jay will play the game Hatoful Boyfriend. Each opposing donation must be $1 higher than the last.
#ZackHeroes: Zack will complete the final story of Sonic Heroes (his least favorite game) for $100.EXPIRED #SRank: Dan will complete an additional S-Rank mission in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 per every $20.COMPLETED
#Heroes: The day shift will complete an addition story in Sonic Heroes per every $500.COMPLETED
As further incentive for donations, Respawn Point interacts heavily with its audience. Any fanart and audio clips (well, within reason) sent in from viewers is happily showcased on the live video stream, and at least one member of the team constantly mans the community chat room. Viewers are also free to suggest challenges of their own to the team, many of which Respawn Point has incorporated into their schedule on the fly.
Sonic Marathon first began at the tail end of 2010, and set a Guinness World Record for Longest Tag-Team Sonic Marathon in its second year. As of Sonic Marathon 4, Zack and Dan are the only members to participate in all four Sonic Marathons. Respawn Point has also done other, smaller gaming marathons, such as the Mega Man Marathon in spring 2011 and the wildly popular Pokémon Marathon in autumn of the same year. A Metroid Marathon has been rumored among the Respawn Point community for several years now, but no date has been confirmed at this time. For more information on Respawn Point and its marathons, contact Zack Harrot via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail.