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Video games have come very far from their humble origins. They're no longer merely a means of mindlessly spending a few minutes pursuing a high score and gobbling up quarter after quarter from players (though with the advent of microtransactions, that second part is debatable). Like many other fictional mediums, for some, they've become a powerful bonding tool, an adhesive that can bring people together across any kind of divide. For Corey Austen, video games, particularly The Legend of Zelda series, were a passion shared with his younger brother Matt, and a media through which the two could embark on exciting adventures together and create memories they wouldn't soon forget.If you frequent Game Informer, Mr. Austen's name is one that may sound a bit familiar. This past September, he was part of a ragtag team of streamers who managed to raise a whooping $5,000 for SUDEP research while playing numerous entries of The Legend of Zelda series. SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy), is a phenomenon that the medical community still knows little about, and is a dangerous side effect to epilepsy that many, even some who are epileptic themselves, don't even know exists. To this end, Mr. Austen's stream was effective in both raising money and awareness for this tragic and largely unknown facet of epilepsy.
This stream was of great personal significance to Mr. Austen; on May 31st, 2016, his younger brother Matt passed away due to SUDEP, and the stream was held in his honor. MoblinsForMatt as the stream was known, was a great success, maintaining a steady audience of several dozen good natured misfits, memers, and generous donors, and showcasing the best qualities humanity has to offer from September 8th to September 11th, a time when we're usually reminded of the latter.
If you frequent Game Informer, you've probably at least heard of MoblinsForMatt courtesy of Suriel Vasquez's September write-up on the stream. As a viewer who enjoyed being a small part of Moblins For Matt, I had the opportunity to reach out to Mr. Austen through email in the weeks following the stream and discuss the aftermath of its success, and what's in store for the future of Moblins For Matt. If you were a part of the stream or want to get to know the man behind the event, you've come to the right place!
The rather snazzy logo for Moblins For Matt!
So to begin, tell the Game
Informer community a little bit about yourself, the man behind Moblins for
Matt. In reading your story and watching your stream, I could tell video
games, and more specifically, the Legend of Zelda series, have had a profound
impact on both you and Matt. What are some of your favorite installments
in the series? Do you have any particularly fond moments of playing the
games together you'd like to share?
Corey Austen: HI all! I'm a
software analyst from the Midwest. I'm married, have two dogs, two cats,
and a lifelong obsession with Nintendo.
Video games have always
been my family's thing. My mom would often watch Matt and I play them
when we were kids. She is actually quite the gamer herself! Family
bonding time for us was usually spent over Mario Kart or Mario Party. So
I guess you could say Nintendo games really do invoke memories of family.
My brother and I were
always drawn to Zelda though. I picked up a controller at about 2, and
Zelda was among my first games. I loved my NES so much that my parents
had to send it to the "Nintendo doctor" (which happened to be located
in the back of the closet) so that I would stop playing it so much.
Matt was no different.
He loved video games as much as I did, so it was great for us to be able to
bond over something that invoked such joy, especially when we were five years
apart in age. Obviously, video games aren't all we ever talked about or
bonded over, but it was always something we could do that we knew would be fun
or create good conversation.
I would say that my
favorites of the series are the NES and SNES Zeldas, simply because I was young
when they came out and I have such happy memories surrounding them. That
and I just loved the play style.
Matt told me he loved
all of the Zelda games (except Adventure of Link, not particularly fond of that
one.) But he was absolutely stoked when Twilight Princess HD was
released. I couldn't tell if he was more excited for the game or to have
the Wolf Link amiibo. He said he really enjoyed Majora's Mask and A Link
Between Worlds as well. A poster of ALBW still hangs over his bed.
I have a lot of
fantastic memories Matt and the Zelda series, but I'll just throw out a few:
The summer after the Wii
was released (2007), the system was still really hard to find. Matt was 14 at
the time and had a job as a paperboy. He had saved up enough money to buy
a Wii, but we couldn't get a hold of one. I happened to be home from
college, and a good friend of my dad who worked at a retail chain
called our house. They called to say that they just got a small shipment
of Wii consoles in. I told them I would be there as quickly as possible
to pick one up. I ran down to Matt's room, grabbed the money he had
stashed away for the Wii, and drove to pick it up. I got there and
realized the Wii didn't really come with a game and he didn't have enough money
for anything else. But I couldn't go home without something to play, so I
nabbed Twilight Princess for him. I sat in his room all week and watched
him play it.
Another memory I have
was several years before that. I was playing through Ocarina of Time and
Matt (who was maybe 8 at the time) was sitting on the couch, watching me go .
through it to get all of the gold skulltulas. After sitting there for a
few hours of watching me struggle to find them all, he just snatched the
controller from me and ran back to all the ones I had missed, all while subtly
questioning my intelligence as to how the hell I could have missed them.
I think I remember this one so clearly because it ended the period where I was
better at these games than he was. He was better at this than me now, and
he is 8. That combined sense of pride and shame is just weird. He was
always the one to take his time in a game, combining through it for secrets and
collectibles. I don't think he owned a game he didn't 100%.
The last time Matt and I actually
were together was because I took my entire family to the symphony Zelda: The
Symphony of the Goddesses.
Mario Party usually tears people apart, but in the Austen household, it and games like it were a form of family bonding.
MightyMagikarp: Thanks for sharing! Video games have
this unique element about them; their interactivity is fun to bond over, and
I'm sure a lot of us can attest to making great memories with loved ones
through them. Now, onto your stream, MoblinsForMatt! It turned out
to be a large success, raising both awareness and thousands of dollars for
SUDEP. Where did you and your friends initially get the idea to marathon
stream Legend of Zelda games for this cause? And going into
MoblinsForMatt, were you expecting it to ultimately take off the way it did?
Corey Austen: Denny
is actually a pretty experienced live streamer, doing some streams to
benefit children's hospitals, so I guess you could say I got the idea from
him. Nintendo and all the people who reached out to me when Zelda
Informer published my letter is the other main force behind doing the
stream. I put the letter out there in the hopes that someone at Nintendo
would read it and maybe a handful of other people would too, but I never
expected Nintendo to actually respond, much less send me something, and I
definitely didn't think people would share it and reach out like they
did. When I realized people were actually paying attention to me and my
situation, I wanted to use that platform to benefit other people. It was
truly awesome for Nintendo to send me the package that they did, but I didn't
want to just be given something for just writing a letter. I guess you
could say I felt a need to earn all the great things people had said and done
for me and my family and I wanted to use the attention to put a spotlight on
SUDEP, since most people/families who are affected by it have no idea it's even
We had NO idea that
MoblinsForMatt would take off like it did. We expected our friends and
family to donate here and there, but we had no way to know that random people
from the internet would tune in! We set the goal of $2500 for Twilight
Princess, and that's as far as we thought we would be able to take it, but to
get to over $5000 was just stunning.
So now, for some questions
about the stream itself. You ultimately streamed for around 70
hours...how were you and your friends able to stay awake that long, let alone
remain energetic and engaging with the audience while playing these
games? Additionally, do you have any particularly favorite moments across
the three days you streamed? You were all very responsive to the chat,
and this led to all manner of hilarity. Any particular moments stand out
Corey Austen: I would say it was the
excitement mostly that kept us all up, that and a lot of coffee, Red Bull, and
less healthy amounts of sleep. Plus we were having a blast while doing
it, so it was really easy to stay engaged and talkative. The only thing I
wish we would have worked on was reducing the lag in the stream since most
of the chat talked about things that were about 15 seconds earlier, but it all
worked out. As for favorite moments, I definitely have a lot of them, but I
would say these are ones that stuck out to me:
-When we reached $2500,
meaning I got to play Twilight Princess. We got a lot of really large
donations right at the end, and one of the most touching ones came from a close
friend of my brother.
-When we got to
$5000. More large donations came in, and even a $500 anonymous donation,
which was just crazy generous.
-When we learned that
Game Informer (and a LOT of other video game sites) published an article on
what we were doing! My brother has gotten the magazine for as long as I
can remember (my parents are still getting them,) so he would have been in
shock to know that he was talked about by GI.
-When some viewers from
Spain came into the channel and Annie's reaction was to say "Um,
-When Denny showed up
during the Twilight Palace level of TP and got to serious work on raising
money. We raised almost $2,000 in about 2 hours O.o
-Being able to show the
world my game room during the Twitch downtime during Wind Waker.
Princess. I played the game about two weeks before we started the stream,
and it took over 21 hours, so being about to do it in much less time was a bit
of a relief. (And I didn't die! :D)
-The donation wars to
irritate Denny, who just wanted to see solid dollar amounts.
-I think the best thing,
though, and it wasn't at any particular moment, was realizing that a lot of
people actually wanted to watch us play this! We are not pros (or good by
the internet's standards), but it was just so neat to just share stories about
Matt, talk about games, and just have fun online.
I have to admit, triggering Denny by donating amounts of money ending in an odd amount of change was a lot of fun. #PennyForDenny
was ultimately a success both in terms of raising money for charity, but also
on a personal level, as everyone involved had a great time. Do you have
any intentions on streaming again in the future, either for charity or for fun,
and if so, where can people go to watch these streams?
It absolutely was a success on both levels. We definitely plan to
stream again! We are planning on having a smaller charity stream for
Halloween that we will be posting about soon on the Moblins For Matt channel
and Facebook page, and we are planning on holding more large events like
this one, where we play more of Matt's favorites, like some of his favorites
from Mario, Kirby, Metroid, and others. I also have a twitch channel of
my own that I hope to get started.
The Moblins For Matt Twitch Channel: twitch.tv/moblinsformatt (Follow us to
get notified when we go live!)
You can check out the Moblins For Matt Facebook page for
info on future streams: https://www.facebook.com/MoblinsForMatt/
We are also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MoblinsForMatt
My personal Twitch Channel is twitch.tv/tidalsword
Denny can be found at twitch.tv/septapusdenny and also on
twitter at @SeptapusDenny
That's good to hear! To wrap things up, are there any final
thoughts you'd like to share to people that partook in MoblinsforMatt, or are
reading about it for the first time now?
Corey Austen: Just thank you to everyone for
sending kind words, watching the stream, sharing the posts, posting donations,
and just reading Matt's story. Losing Matt was really hard for my entire
family and we didn't really know how to grieve this loss. But we honestly felt
like the world came to our rescue after he died. We want to keep the stream
going because being able to do bring something positive out of the something so
tragic has helped us all pull through. We intend to change up how the
streams are done and who we donate to as well, so come check it out sometime.
Thanks again to everyone,
you guys/gals are seriously the best.
The Austen Bros.
Ultimately, I'd like to take the time to thank Mr. Austen for taking the time to conduct this email interview. ...And for putting up with my procrastination in publishing it. MoblinsForMatt was ultimately a great success, so hopefully in continuing to spread the word on its future charity streams, we can work to create a future where we better understand SUDEP thanks to an increase in awareness and research funding.
The year is 2016 and video games have become so much more than a meaningless time sink. They've become a vehicle through which we can support great causes and form bonds while smashing pots and harassing virtual chickens. And that is a pretty incredible thought.
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