Race against Slime: YouTubers Compete to Stop Malaria

By Mobile FOXBusiness

The age of mobility has connected convenience and entertainment, and now a mobile social game maker is literally putting charity into play by teaming up with a mobile non-profit in an effort to defeat malaria; they’re raising awareness and money through a unique charity event.

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Seriously is providing the platform through its inaugural mobile game release, the free-to-play Best Fiends. The puzzle game was downloaded on iOS devices more than one million times in its first six days in October and the company says more than 150,000 hours is spent playing the adventure app every day.

It has just launched an Android version to coincide with this charity event co-sponsored with partner, Malaria No More.

Titled “Race against Slime” -- a reference to the game’s giant slug antagonists -- the groundbreaking fund-raiser features a new twist with some of the biggest YouTube stars in the world. PewDiePieMarkiplierCinnamonToastKenUberHaxorNova and Kootra, are competing in a race through Friday, December 19, to see who can advance the farthest in Best Fiends. (YouTube is a unit of Google (GOOGL.) Seriously will donate $50,000 in total, with half going to Malaria No More and the other half to an organization the winner selects.

“We like organic promotions,” explains Seriously co-founder Andrew Stalbow, adding, “We haven’t seen anyone do a race like this. We were really inspired to mine this great canvass, for a fun conversation from great personalities and a great platform for these charities we’re working with, it’s a great thing to do.”

Throw in the Battle of the YouTube Stars and it’s a contest that may potentially reach tens of millions of their subscribers and followers through social media as the digital celebs poke each other and talk smack via video postings, tweets, and other digital age modes of ribbing.

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“It’s about them being fun and competitive, to see how far they can get in a week,” Stalbow says. “They’re competitive, talented guys and we’re excited to see how it goes.

The contest kicked off on Friday and YouTube star Markiplier (the online handle of Mark Fischbach) proclaimed to FOX Business: “I fully intend to win! I am excited to compete in the Best Fiends charity race because it’s a great cause and it’s going to be a lot fun.”

Markiplier is known for his YouTubes featuring “colorful” video game commentary and other videos that have been viewed more than 1.25 billion times. His official site claims to have raised more than $482,000 for charities and he is asking his 4.9 million subscribers “to cheer me on and help me level up in the game. Hopefully, we’re going to do a lot good for the world this month.”

Why Malaria?

Seriously’s Stalbow says the company felt it was important to the game maker’s executives to include an altruistic component in the game, and this partnership seemed natural: “When we met the Malaria No More folks, it turned out to be a great fit -- they’re trying to eradicate malaria through mobile, and we’re a mobile-first entertainment company.”

So Seriously created a good-guy mosquito character in the game that gave up drinking blood and now imbibes coconut water. He is unlocked after players reach a certain level at which time a link appears to Malaria No More’s site where gamers can get more information or donate immediately from their phone.

Martin Edlund, CEO of the eight year-old non-profit, says the arrangement has been a winner. “(Andrew Stalbow) has the same vision that we have, for malaria to be the first disease defeated by mobile (and) we’ve had more traffic from this game than any other integration or campaign in history…because you’re on the mobile phone, you’re incentivized to go to the site and people are encouraged to make donations. On mobile, you’re so much closer to taking action if you’re in the game on your phone.”

The World Health Organization last week released a report stating that deaths from malaria have been cut almost in half since 2000, but there’s still much work to be done since one child in Africa still dies every minute from the disease.

Edlund says he hopes gamers and fans of the YouTube stars will take to the game, and the cause, with the fervor of his own four-and-a-half year-old daughter.  “She is good at the game and she comes to me and says, ‘Dad, I want to help the kids with malaria,’ which means she wants to use my phone,” he says with a chuckle.

With mobile phones omnipresent and the devices as a nexus of the digital lifestyle, could this confluence of connectivity, charity and entertainment mean a mobile charity trend is at hand? “Yes, absolutely,” Edlund says emphatically. “If you’re trying to reach young people today, realizing what a global audience this game has. We’re getting huge response from Asia, China, all over. It’s such an easy way to reach this audience, so I think we could start a trend.”

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