Most YouTube channels stream their adventures online, but one has become hugely popular with South Africans through a collaboration with an online game. Minecraft is an immensely popular game that brings teams of players to a virtual reality sandbox world in which they can build a world, battle zombies and form bonds with each other. It is based on the video game World of Warcraft but is free to play on PC or Xbox. The best minecraft modded server hosting community has many active players – often called gamers – who live all over the world. Many of these players live in the US, Europe and Asia. One of these gamers contacted South African-born broadcaster Rashid Afrika, a regular YouTuber and vlogger who has a popular Minecraft channel. Afrika goes by the name Rendog on his channel and he is from Johannesburg, and he and Rendog started connecting. Rendog reached out to friends at South African charity organisation, SOS Africa. Rendog hosts a Minecraft stream for them every week, they have dinner together, and meet up to do sponsorships. Rendog (as he likes to be called) is a South African (via Colombe, Northern Ireland) Minecraft fanatic who draws inspiration from his place of birth – a land that has a long history of struggle.
He was initially inspired to put his creativity to work through Minecraft when he saw how the popular game can build and develop relationships. His involvement with SOS started at the end of 2010. So Rendog co-hosted dinners and parties at his house with SOS South Africa supporters and approached them. At first, it was just one dinner but as time passed, it became more serious and involved South African language TV presenter and producer, Lolo Dennis – who co-hosts a weekly live Minecraft live stream on YouTube. They also got an increase in sponsorship dollars. South African family Daniel has been receiving food from SOS via a donation made by Rendog and Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, a few times a week. With funding from the Minecraft stream and the meal time programme, they started feeding children in January 2012. They’ve also helped kids participating in SOS’ work in schools. This scheme had gained popularity, so they met with Minecraft designer, Markus Persson of Mojang, the Finnish company that created the game, to see how serious the family was about saving children’s lives and raising funds through a global platform.
They were impressed with the family’s social responsibility and they suggested creating a charity connection between Minecraft and SOS. Also involved was MS Dharmaraj of Pandora, the Bollywood music site and DJ service and also a Minecraft fan who has become a fan of Berserk’s play. During its brief run, SOS SA has found that this campaign has done more to strengthen the relationships between indigenous South Africans, and to empower them to help their local communities than any traditional charity programmes in South Africa. Rendog says that he has also learned that South Africans are very generous and have really embraced the idea.