Many of us, as gamers, have had that game that we have thought we were good at. It might have been the only game we had for a while. It might have been a gift from someone special. The reasons might be different but everyone has it. Most of us, however, move on from that game eventually. We play other games. We might even stop playing games entirely for one reason or another.
Some people don’t.
Some people continue to play that game and learn everything about it. They memorize every frame of animation. They join communities of other gamers that also share that same passion. The result of all of this effort and dedication is a community of gamers built around perfecting the “speed run.” These players work together like world class athletes pushing themselves forward and mutually competing for world record times in their favorite games.
The speed running community runs two massive, week-long charity marathons to raise money for charities. The marathon each winter is called Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) raise 1.5 million dollars for Doctors Without Borders. Just last week they ran Summer Games Done Quick (SDGQ) and raised 1.2 million for the same charity. That is a LOT of cash raised.
Players gather at a hotel in St. Paul Minnesota and stream a MASSIVE schedule of speed run around the clock for an entire week while players send in donations. They also lock certain extra-fun speed runs behind donation challenge walls.
My family had an interesting experience with SDGQ last week. I told my wife about it and she was immediately doubtful. Why would we watch people that we don’t know play some old games? She understands why the kids would watch someone like Stampycat play Minecraft, but these are older games. She turned around pretty quickly though once she started watching. These gamers aren’t just playing games. They are tearing them apart the way Olympic Sprinters gobble up ground on the track.
They streamed 160 games during SDGQ last week. I went through the list and found a bunch of videos in their archives for families to watch together. This is a great way to get a taste of what these players can do.
We all remember playing this one back in school right? I’ll bet you never played it like THIS!
Everyone loves Mickey Mouse. This was a recently released HD version of a Sega Genesis classic.
Tetris is arguably one of the most important games of all time. These guys play special version of this game and do things that are simply impossible for mortals. Just watch. It is INSANE.
Ori and the Blind Forest came out this past March and is one of the toughest games we have played in years. So of course I am going to highlight an absurd speed run.
The Legend of Zelda (Swordless)
Sometimes it isn’t necessarily about speed. This is a run of The classic NES title The Legend of Zelda where the runner skips picking up the sword at the beginning of the game.
I can’t do a list of speed runs without including at least one Mega Man game. These are a series of punishing games that require a lot of skill and these speed runners have it down to the frame.
You will be humbled watching these players race. They almost literally next stop moving.
Pokemon is a fan favorite with younger kids. This is a run where the player is blindfolded and asked to play the game. It is absolutely insane.
TASBot is an automated toolset that essentially allows skilled players to manipulate the game and their inputs down the the frame animations to help “play” the game as quickly as possible. The beginning of this video actually explains exactly how they do it on a step by step basis.
This is a three person race through every level of the first 3D platformer. It is a long video, but it is worth it if you want to see the Super Mario 64 mastered.
Super Metroid is arguably one of the better games ever made and it was the first game in the series to really refine the 2d exploration genre. Skilled Super Metroid players pull off some jumps that are mind boggling.
This is the longest video I have linked here, but it is a 100% run of one of the best role playing games ever made. It is also the final run of the entire marathon. It is, essentially, the victory lap.