Northside video game designer raises more than $1,500 for UNICEF


Jennifer Shaffer talks about Levels for Love while friends Becky Cech and Melissa McClure play their way through Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. (Video/Kelly Thomas)

Brightwood resident Jennifer Shaffer and a group of her gamer friends proved that girls who love video games are not only awesome, but dedicated and conscientious.

From 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 20 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22 Shaffer and her friends gathered at her home and played through 273 levels of multiple video games to raise $1,777 for UNICEF.

“I stayed up probably 30 hours straight,” Shaffer said.

Each level of each game had to be “unlocked” by donations of varying amounts. Had all 546 levels of all 11 games been unlocked, the event would have raised close to $30,000.

Games included classics like “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and “Super Mario Bros.,” and newer gamer favorites like zombie survival game “Left 4 Dead” and the puzzle game “Portal.”

Around noon Saturday the girls ran out of donations, so they took a break from 3 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

Although Levels for Love didn’t raise as much as Shaffer hoped, she said she was happy with the way the event went, and has learned from the experience — plus, she added, it was fun.

“I found out I had incredibly generous friends,” Shaffer said. “It was really nice to see everyone working together.”

Shaffer chose UNICEF because she wanted the charity to be for children, because the organization put so much money into Haiti and because it is called on to help during catastrophes all the time.

Another video game charity event inspired Shaffer to start Levels for Love. The Annual Mario Marathon, run by three male gamers, has raised more than $120,000 for the charity Child’s Play in three years.

After watching the Mario Marathon for two years, “I finally felt like I was ready to organize my own thing,” Shaffer said.

She does plan on holding another Levels for Love gaming marathon, but next time plans to use fewer games and publicize more.

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