BY ANTHONY BEDOY
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; some rights reserved.
Lazy, obnoxious, and immature are just a few of the words people often use to describe gamers and those involved in the Internet community. These so-called "nerds" have been referred to as the "lazy American gold rush." It is the "new age" way to earn a small fortune with nothing but a computer and a gaming console. YouTube has helped promote a community on the Internet that is surrounded by gaming commentaries, Major League Gaming competitions, and prize giveaways. This might seem like a bad thing for our society, considering the disconnect that technology can create. However, one group shines as an example of the redeeming qualities of the Internet gaming community.
What could the gaming nerds of this world do for the greater good of our global community? Consider Athene, a YouTube sensation with a raunchy sense of humor who sets himself apart from most gaming commentators. His videos are PG-13 at the least and are consistently about him "pwning noobs" in World of Warcraft or other popular online games. His YouTube channel began in 2007, and has been gathering loyal subscribers since then. Athene, or Bachir Boumaaza, also pulled off one of the most gracious and successful fundraisers based in the gaming community. Although he seems to be quite crude in his YouTube videos, in real life Athene has a soft side.
In late March of 2012, Athene began a campaign through which he would eventually gather one million dollars for an organization called Save the Children. The money would directly support the attempts to solve the worst hunger crisis in 60 years taking place in the Horn of Africa. Athene's goal was to encourage the gaming community, Reddit followers, and the general Internet population to join together and raise aid for children and families suffering from hunger. His strategy was to live-stream nightly events to promote his cause while allowing the participants to spread the word and raise money at the same time. For every dollar a person raised, they had a better chance of winning one of the available prizes. Prizes included high-tech computer mice, keyboards, laptops, and other devices. His goal was to reach five hundred thousand dollars; DC Entertainment had agreed to match that donation.
About 18 days into the event, Athene recognized the goal was unreachable without more publicity and a massive rise in donations. Athene took a few moves from a famous social protester, Gandhi, and went on hunger strike to raise awareness about his cause. During the 10 days after he began his fast, the donations began to roll in. This sent a message to the world that he was serious about Saving the Children. While Athene is a gamer, he is first and foremost a member of a larger world community -- one that recognizes the value of all life.
" . . . and we are gonna try to gather one million dollars for the Horn of Africa, the worst hunger crisis in 60 years, no media -- nothing, because it is not some earthquake, tsunami, or whatever the f***. That is how the media works, but I don't give a s***. I mean we own it up, we are the Internet. When I was supporting charity and everything, I never thought I would be able to share that passion with my viewers -- and now I really say it sincerely: I am really proud of you guys, you make me smile, you give me a reason for doing what I am doing, and today I don't feel alone in my fight against all that is wrong in the world. The gaming community, the interwebs, together we can do this man, it is gonna be awesome, we are really looking foreword and I cant wait -- Let's play them games!"
Photo by Glenn Batuyong; some rights reserved.
By attempting to provide a voice for the voiceless, Athene gave his followers and the supporters of OP Sharecraft the ability to see the results of their good deeds. He traveled to Africa and filmed a series of YouTube videos dedicated to the people he and the Internet community helped. His passion allowed others to share the burden of responsibility as men and women of good will. I tip my hat to you, Athene, for being so generous and willing to sacrifice your comforts for the lives of others in a truly loving fashion.
You can read more about OP Sharecraft at http://opsharecraft.com.