Sonic the Hedgehog is as well remembered for his lackluster titles of late as much as his classic early 1990s adventures. There’s no Sonic game that makes fans cringe more than 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog. As the game turns 10 years old this month, a group of Sonic lovers are looking to reclaim its infamous place in history — by running through the messy, infuriating game in the name of charity.
Run for Our Rights’ inaugural event hinges on a complete, 24-hour playthrough of Sonic ‘06, as it’s known colloquially. Beginning at 10 a.m. PT on Saturday, Nov. 12, four women who have never played before will take to Twitch in order to stream what they call a “casual” jaunt through the game.
It’s for an important cause, as chairwoman and Sonic fan Ellen McGrody told Polygon earlier this week: They’re running in the name of Transgender Awareness Month, which spans the entirety of November.
“The [Sonic the Hedgehog fan] community likes to come together and laugh at its failures and celebrate its successes,” she said. “We’re gonna try to get that passion and divert it to the cause of transgender rights — take that passion for gaming and Sonic games in particular and turn it into something that can really galvanize a lot.”
Run for Our Rights is sponsored by the Transgender Law Center, a California-based organization that works to advocate for and bring justice to trans and nonconforming people nationwide. In light of Trans Awareness Month and this week’s election results, it’s an important cause to Run for Our Rights’ foursome, McGrody said, all of whom identify as trans. Connecting a terrible game to a cause like this could seem like a parody, but she pointed to the charitable Games Done Quick streams as inspiration.
Awesome Games Done Quick and its sister event, Summer Games Done Quick, are the prevailing “play weird games for a good cause” fundraisers, in which livestreamers speedrun their way through titles great and terrible to raise money for groups like the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders.
They’re touchstones that McGrody mentioned several times in describing her group’s endeavor to repurpose a bad game for something good.
“One of my favorite parts [of Awesome Games Done Quick] is the ‘bad games’ block,” McGrody told us. “That sort of appeal, where it takes some of that load off where you can see a game and know why it’s bad and laugh along with the community without having to be there for yourself.
“The charity aspect is just a natural extension, right? They’re putting a lot of effort. It’s not an easy thing to do to sit down and play games at 3 in the morning.”
Watching other people play games at 3 in the morning is pretty easy, however, and that’s part of the draw, she said. The appeal of these streams is that players can experience these infamous titles vicariously through bolder souls, which is great for a laugh — and the charity component makes the enterprise far more worthwhile, for both parties.
This year’s Games Done Quick sessions raised millions of dollars in donations, a goal that Run for Our Rights certainly aspires to — but they’re setting their sights far lower for now, hoping to hit the “lofty” $10,000 mark. To keep the money rolling in, McGrody promises that they’ll have comedic incentives throughout the stream. (She hinted that one such donation milestone would be a group sing-along of the Sonic Adventure 2 classic, “Escape from the City.”)
“While they’re there laughing and having fun, we’re gonna have interviews with transgender law center staffers on-air, focusing on health care and youth,” she added. “You, at one point, laugh and, at another point you grow in understanding. ... Every single break, [Awesome Games Done Quick] shows Doctors Without Borders. That’s the sort of balance we want to strike, where people have a reason to stick around, while also having a great takeaway.”
McGrody and her teammates — Christa Lee, Dana Kipnis and Jenn Kaplan — are dedicated to their advocacy of rights for trans persons, but they’re also pumped to have a good (?) time with one of their favorite characters in one of his worst games. There are few reasons to be thankful for Sonic ‘06’s existence, but over the next 24 hours, Run for Our Rights is determined to become one of them. Donations are open now ahead of the 10 a.m. PT kickoff.