DeKALB – Kyla Jamar of DeKalb had an interesting Friday night. She was eating pizza and drinking Monster Energy mixed with lemonade when she lost an arm to rats. Then she joined with friends to prevent gangs that were rising up from getting to the mayor and taking over the city.
Fortunately, Jamar’s unusual night was all part of the fifth annual 24-hour gaming marathon at The Gaming Goat in DeKalb.
“I’m not a gamer and I [stink] at video games,” Jamar said. “But this is really entertaining. It’s fun to play new games and hang out with friends.”
The marathon, held from 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, through 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, was a fundraiser for Extra Life, a nonprofit organization that supports local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across North America through gaming events.
Sixty-two people attended the event, with 12 people staying all 24 hours.
Event organizer George Jaros said the $382 raised will be used to help children at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
“The cause hits really close to home because I have a close family friend that’s ill, as well as a few kids at church,” Jaros said. “The money will help support kids with any childhood disease or ailment, not just cancer.”
The event took place in conjunction with Extra Life’s Game Day, the first Saturday in November.
“Game Day encourages people to play games in a marathon, similar to a regular marathon, walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon,” Jaros said. “Events like this bring people out and get the community excited about games. Playing games is all about having fun, and with this event, we can have fun and save lives at the same time.”
The marathon featured snacks and pizzas donated by local businesses, and Barb City Bagels donated and delivered breakfast to the gamers in the morning.
Games played during the marathon included “Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale,” “Lockup: A Roll Players Tale,” “Arkham Horror,” the fourth edition of “Twilight Imperium,” “Food Chain Magnet,” a one-shot adventure of “Dungeons & Dragons,” “Stratego,” “Magic: The Gathering” and “Sentinels of the Multiverse.” Marathon attendees also could play games on two Nintendo 64s.
Two prototype games not on store shelves were also played: “Legacies” and “Nineveh Cards.” “Legacies” will join the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter this fall and “Nineveh Cards” will join next year.
Jason Brooks, creator of “Legacies” and designer and publisher of Brookspun Games, attended multiple Extra Life 24-hour gaming marathons to promote his new thematic strategy game.
“That’s why I created the game, to create experiences for others,” Brooks said. “It’s all about creating memorable moments and having fun together.”
The event also featured a 24-hour livestream on Twitch by the five members of Cardboard on Tap: Abby Doherty, Joey Lugo, Andy Painter, Josh Richter and Andrew “Swifty” Swift. All members are from DeKalb except Painter, who lives in Rochelle.
“The Gaming Goat and George [Jaros] both reached out to us when they found out we’re local,” Richter said. “A 24-hour marathon isn’t too difficult, we’ve had 16- to 18-hour livestreams and once had a 52-hour livestream with shifts. Although 24 hours isn’t standard fare, it’s definitely not unfamiliar territory.”
Richter said gaming is “transportive.”
“I love the puzzling nature of it and spending time with each other,” he said. “It’s a hands-on experience that’s different. … Gaming is absolutely a lifestyle choice, something I focus most of my funds and energy on.”
Brothers Jonathan Kurtzman, 20, and Micah Kurtzman, 17, both of Sycamore, attended the gaming marathon together. Micah Kurtzman came straight from a sci-fi club meeting.
“I’m used to staying up 24 hours playing games,” he said. “I just want to have fun, meet new people and share a good time with friends. I’m looking forward to enjoying every minute of it.”
Gamers who missed out on the 24-hour gaming marathon still can participate and fundraise for Extra Life.
Totally Tabletop Tuesdays, a board game night open to the public, takes place every Tuesday at The Gaming Goat, 229 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, starting at 6:30 p.m. Prototype games are played the first Tuesday of the month.
There is an ongoing raffle with prizes at The Gaming Goat and about 250 items up for auction on The Gaming Goat’s Facebook page that will run through Friday, Nov. 8. Monetary donations to Extra Life will be accepted in person at The Gaming Goat and online on the Extra Life website until after Thanksgiving.
“The event was a success because of everyone that participated and because of the businesses and community members that donated,” Jaros said. “It was a really fun event, even though we were all exhausted and bleary-eyed after. Everyone wants to do it again next year and make it even bigger.”