Vanessa Hock

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This Friday, arcade and music venue Wonderville is set to host a livestream gaming session of the vaguely viral video game Among Us on Twitch that will feature small business owners, community advocates, two state senators: Alessandra Biaggi and Julia Salazar. The stream will be used as a fundraiser for the mutual aid group Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, formed in response to residents in need of food, health, and advocacy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s not Salazar’s first time talking to gamers. Wonderville previously hosted a fundraising livestream with Senator Salazar in December 2020. During the stream she discussed Governor Cuomo’s COVID-releated Executive Orders and the struggles of small businesses in Williamsburg and Bushwick.

Salazar told viewers “A lot of attention has been paid to restaurants and small businesses during the pandemic, but not enough has been dedicated to the art scene and venues like Wonderville that serve the community in different ways.”

Wonderville is an arcade-themed bar that took over the space that used to be Secret Project Robot. (Vanessa Hock)

The goal of the December livestream was to raise funds for Wonderville to remain open and it raised $40,000 in donations. Afterwards, Wonderville considered how they could turn those efforts to the services of the local mutual group Bushwick Ayuda Mutua.

“Mutual Aid is so important for our local community, especially during this pandemic. Bushwick Ayuda Mutua is providing food and supplies to people in our neighborhood,” Klebeck told Bushwick Daily.

Salazar’s not the first politician to cross the threshold of gaming and politics. On the Amazon-owned Twitch, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised $200,000 for eviction relief and food pantries last year while playing Animal Crossing. Earlier that year, when Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez used the platform in an effort to get younger viewers to vote, she hosted the first livestream gaming session of Among Us to feature a politician. The stream peaked at nearly 430,000 views, making it the third most viewed stream on Twitch’s nine year history. 

The Among Us stream at Wonderville will go from 8 to 10pm on Friday, January 29. Also joining the event: Ric Leichtung from NYC Nightlife United, Julia Fredenburg from NYC Artists Coalition, and Raffaello VanCouten from Brooklyn Allied Bars & Restaurants. Viewers joining are encouraged to ask questions.

The stream is one of many that Wonderville has hosted lately. The bar has developed a full calendar of livestreams that include films, game nights, DIY tutorials, and music.  

Wonderville closed temporarily on December 14th when indoor dining was revoked under Cuomo’s ever-changing Executive Order 202. Klebeck says that “it was not feasible for Wonderville to exist solely on outdoor dining and a 10pm curfew.” 

They turned to digital platforms and chose the online multiplayer game Among Us, in which players must find the imposter among the team.  

“We’re hoping that these are things we can continue, even after the bar reopens, to keep our community active while we’re all stuck at home.” says Klebeck.

Top photo courtesy of Wonderville. 

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