ExtraLives.org - The Fundraising Gaming Website!


Who are you guys?

We’re all a bunch of High School (now college!) students looking to play video games and fend off sleep to raise money for charity. 

Coming soon maybe before graduation: A profile for each member of the ExtraLives.org team!


How do we contact you?

Send any general inquiries to contact at ExtraLives dot org or, if you need to contact me (Tim) personally about something, you can email me at Tim at ExtraLives dot org. We'll do our best to respond to any questions-- thanks for emailing us!


What is a Marathon?

Essentially, Marathons are events in which we set aside 24 hours (or more!) to play through a bunch of video games and broadcast the ordeal live over the internet. Typically, the Marathons focus on completing a certain number of games in a specific time period (though we’ve got no reservations for playing longer than initially planned).

Also, note that “M” in Marathon is capitalized. That means our Marathons are special. Or something. 

Have a game or series in mind that you want us to play through? Drop us a line at Contact@ExtraLives.org. Keep in mind that if we don’t own the game, it may be a tad difficult to actually play it. If there is a game that you’re just dying to get rid of, let us know and we may feature it in a future Marathon.


Why are you doing this?

To make a long story short, I watched Cameron Banga’s Legend of Zelda Marathon way back in January 2008 and thought his idea of using video games as a means to raise money for nonprofits was a great approach to fundraising. Plus, it’d make all those years I spent gaming not seem like a total waste…

Thus, ExtraLives.org was born!


When did ExtraLives.org start?

While the concept originated early in 2008, the site itself didn't go live until April 20th, 2009. A lot has changed between the earliest website mockups and what ExtraLives.org is today. Check out some of the backstory and laughably-awful design choices made leading up to the site launch here.


How much has ExtraLives.org raised so far?

To date, we have raised a total of $78,177.40 through all of our various Marathons! 

We've provided games, toys and books to children's hospitals through Child's Play, provided meals for hundreds, if not thousands, through the World Food Programme and worked to improve life for people in developing nations through UNICEF. Our fundraisers for Free the Children funded the construction of five schoolhouses in Ecuador, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Haiti and Sri Lanka and working with charity: water allowed us to build a well in Ethiopia. 

Thanks for the continued support, everybody!


What hardware and software do you use to broadcast?

We used to capture video directly from the console using an EasyCap USB video capture device. Our set has since died on us but not after a couple of hundred hours of service. Theyre rather inexpensive (about $15 or so on Amazon.com) and I'd recommend them if you want to give broadcasting a go on the cheap.  I'd suggest doing some research to be sure the EasyCap will work with your hardware. They're quite picky about what computers they'll work on!

Following the death of the EasyCaps (around the Zelda Marathon), we switched to the Diamond VC500 devices. Although these provide sharper video capture than the EasyCaps, they seem to have some problem with constant image flickering that is nearly impossible to make go away-- I would not recommend purchasing them. Despite that, we used these from the 64 Hours of the N64 Marathon through the Rise and Fall of Sonic the Hedgehog Marathon. Since then, we've used the Dazzle DVC100.

Audio is provided by the Logitech 980186-0403 USB microphone. There's no fancy audio mixing going on here! We just place the microphone in a place where it can capture our voices as well as the game audio from the television.

We used to put the feed together using a piece of freeware called VH Multi Camera Studio. Now that the piece of software has evolved into Xsplit, we've been using that for most Marathon streams. It works quite well and I'd highly recommend using it for your own feeds.


Will you ever integrate a webcam into the broadcasts?

Possibly one day but the current two-screened format has grown on me. I'm not sure if throwing another video feed of everyone just sitting on a couch would be terribly interesting. The current format keeps the focus on the games and the commentary-- the bread and butter of our broadcasts. 

But hey, who knows-- maybe one day we'll change things if there's a huge demand for it.


How can I connect to the ExtraLives.org Marathon chatroom with an IRC client?

We have an entire guide to show you how to connect to our IRC chats on Ustream.tv and Twitch.tv-- check it out here!


How do I donate?

See that little box to the left? It looks like this:

The ChipIn Button. Fear it.

That's the ChipIn widget. The text at the top may vary depending on where the donations are going (and hopefully the donation bar won't be so empty...).

Clicking the big orange "ChipIn!" button at the bottom will bring you to a secure PayPal site.

Punch your donations here.

Type in the amount you'd like to donate in the circled "Unit Price" field.

From there, you can choose to pay via PayPal or Credit Card. The site accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards.

Thanks for donating!


Where exactly is the money going?

This month, donations made via PayPal will be sent directly to Free the Children. We plan to sponsor a new charity each month. Keep an eye out for who we’re donating to next!

If there’s a charity or nonprofit you feel we should raise money for, send us an email.


Do you guys keep any of the money?

Nope! Every cent of each donation is sent directly to the charity. None of it ever touches any of our personal PayPal accounts. All costs related to the Marathons (such as web hosting fees, costs for raffle prizes and games, etc) are all paid for out of our own pockets.


Is my donation tax-deductible?

Because ChipIn sends the donations directly to the charity, you’ll receive a PayPal receipt that you can use for tax purposes.

Free The Children has more information regarding their tax deductibility on their website.


Is my donation anonymous?

Yup, nobody needs to know your name unless you want it publicly known. Occasionally we may read out first names or online aliases when thanking donors on the stream. If you would rather us not do that, feel free to leave a comment after donating saying you don't want your name aloud. 

Also, all donors are contacted once the fundraiser ends asking how they want to be represented on the (very slowly updated) list of donors. Just let me know then if you would rather your donation be left anonymous on the list.


If I make/write/submit something for the site, will you post it?

Sure! We’d love to see anything you guys make for us! Provided it’s not especially obscene, we’d be more than happy to put it on the site.


Is there anything I can do to help out?

We realize not everybody can donate, so if you’re eager to help us, feel free to help advertise and publicize the site. Just be sure to do it respectfully-- nobody likes spam.


The Ustream Feed or ChipIn buttons aren't showing up!

It might be because your Flash player is out of date. Pay the folks at Adobe a visit and update it here.


The ads that appear in the Ustream feed are annoying-- how do I remove them?

Install something like Adblock Plus to block those advertisements. We're not getting any of the money generated by them so feel free to block them completely if they bother you.


Why is there something on the Ustream feed when a Marathon isn't going on?

In an effort to keep some sort of content on the feed at all times, we set old Marathon recordings to automatically play on the Ustream page.

I will occasionally mess with the feed to test out broadcast formatting or new capture equipment. You can disregard it if you'd like but feel free to watch if it interests you!


What do I do if I have a question that isn't mentioned here?

Email us at Contact@ExtraLives.org and we'll do our best to answer it (and maybe even add it to this page!)