PEORIA, Ill. -- To some, young adults huddled around a television screen while furiously pounding away on game controllers may not look like much more than a video game fest. But to 24-year-old Peorian Carl Dodd, it is so much more.
Dodd is the co-founder of a Peoria-based charity called Rated M For Marathon, a group that raises money for other non-profits while continuously playing video game franchises and streaming it all online.
"We got the idea by watching a marathon group called 'ExtraLives.org' do something similar," said Dodd. "We were astounded video games were being put to such good use and decided we wanted to do something good and have fun at the same time."
Rated M For Marathon -- consisting of co-founder Dave Reynolds and members Alex Schumacher, Krista Fanning, and Zach Wessler -- started in September 2011 to raise money for Child's Play, a charity dedicated to providing entertainment for children stuck in the hospital for extended periods of time.
"We had...been big fans of Child's Play for a long time, as it was founded by the creators of the Penny Arcade web series and was just such a noble endeavor," explained Dodd. "So far, they have been great to work with and we've formed a following within their circle, which we are thankful to have."
Dodd describes the typical Rated M for Marathon event as "a giant LAN party with friends". Those playing and those watching the live feed online are invited to donate money.
"We've gained a following in England and a good portion of the Midwest," said Dodd. "I never thought people would find watching other people play video games entertaining, let alone watch fanatically and even donate for it! Perhaps it's a sign of the times, but its an amazing one."
Dodd says Rated M for Marathon recently teamed up with Landmark Cinemas in Peoria to host a live event for the release of Disney's Wreck It Ralph. He says since that success, Landmark has requested the organization hold more live events there.
Until then, Dodd invites anyone in the area (and the world, for that matter) to get involved.
"People can always be involved in the simplest ways, ranging from the obvious watching and spreading the word on social networking sites," said Dodd. "If people are really involved and believe in the charity at hand, donations are always gratefully accepted."