FALLS CREEK — DuBois Area High School graduate Mason Cramer recently returned from Rockville, Maryland, where he raised funds for people with cancer by doing what he does best — playing video games.
Cramer, a Falls Creek resident, has a pretty cool job. Every day he plays video games he loves, while live-streaming it for hundreds of fans, or as he likes to call them, his friends.
Through his partnership with “Twitch” — a platform for watching and live streaming digital video broadcasts — Cramer is able to play and chat with his followers in real time. Fans can subscribe to his channel and donate if they enjoy what they see.
Having a partnership with Twitch provides certain options for him, but when it comes to his 24,000 followers, Cramer has built that fanbase on his own over the past three years.
For a lot of gamers, this is just like a sport, Cramer says. He’s doing something he enjoys, while 150-200 people watch him every evening, and before a big show, he practices for months, performing in front of thousands of people.
Some people go home and watch television at night, Cramer says, while others consider a Twitch stream their favorite show. Through a chat server program, Cramer also chats with other gamers and friends, exchanging messages or photos.
“Nobody has to pay to watch me,” he said. “People choose to give back voluntarily.”
Separating him from many modern-day gamers, Cramer plays old-school Super Nintendo classics like Super Mario Bros., something he became “hooked on” as a child.
At the Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) 2019 marathon this month, Cramer competed with RB Machok, a friend from Mexico whom he met through gaming. More than 2,000 people attended AGDQ, with around 200,000 people tuning in online. People fly in from places like Spain and Japan to attend.
Cramer is considered a “speedrunner,” or someone who beats a game as fast as they can. He currently holds multiple world records for such achievements.
“AGDQ is a prestigious thing to be picked to be a part of,” Cramer said. “These players are the best at what they do. For us, this is the equivalent of getting into the Olympics — there is no bigger place to showcase your skills.”
When a player gets up in front of everyone and completes their game quickly, it’s called a “run.” Cramer’s and Machok’s 15-minute performance alone helped raise around $44,000.
Cramer has also been a part of other gaming charity events, such as the “Mario Masters Colosseum” (MMC) held in California last summer, which raised more than $100,000 for Direct Relief, an emergency organization.
There tends to be a stigma associated with gaming in some quarters, but it has brought nothing but good things to Cramer’s life, including lifelong friends and the chance to give back.
“People who are playing games are doing good for people,” he said. “We all kind of felt alone before. We played in our basement with no one to talk to. It has grown so much, and we’ve all found each other.
“If you can play and talk about the game, you’re one of us.”
To watch Cramer in action, visit twitch.tv/glitchcat7.
This year’s Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) event raised more than 2.4 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
The AGDQ stage is a fully-equipped performance setup with cameras and overhead lights. The crowd watching sits directly behind the gamers, who are focused on a large screen, Cramer said.
“Games Done Quick” is a series of charity, video game marathons, featuring high-level gameplay by “speed runners.” It’s currently the largest global fundraising event for both the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders, raising more than 19.3 million dollars for charity, according to www.gamesdonequick.com.
“To meet people who feel the same way about these games that I do, it’s really awesome,” he added. “It’s given me the chance to connect with so many people I never would’ve met.”
The Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) event will be held in Bloomington, Minnesota starting June 23, benefiting the Doctors Without Borders charity.
For more information on AGDQ, visit www.gamesdonequick.com.