Speed running is about having complete mastery over a video game. Speed running is also about knowing a game inside and out, knowing the game so well that you know what you are required to get, and what you can get away with skipping. Watching someone speed run a game inspires awe because they blow through games that took us hours, days, and sometimes weeks to beat. Speed Demo Archive and Speed Runs Live, recently put on a marathon benefiting charity; this marathon lasted for a week with games being played throughout the entire event. That marathon showed not only the ability of gamers, but their compassion as well.
First let’s talk about what speed running is. Speed running is going through a game as fast as possible. There are often several categories for speed runs – 100% runs are where you do everything that is required of the players, referred to in the community as runners, including side quests or collectables. There are a low percent runs where the runner can’t collect anything at all. The run that most people start with doing is the any percent run, which means the runner just has to beat the game in any way possible.
The one thing that all speed runs have in common though is that the players have complete control of the game; at least the best players do. The best players have dedicated hours into being able to play a game faster than anyone else. Those hours go into learning the patterns of the enemies, or figuring out what items they can get away with not getting. They also try and find little glitches that allow them to get around areas or doors that would normally cost hours. All those hours of studying go into simply trying to cut a few seconds off of their time. Watching the top speed running times is so impressive, because they are taking a game that if normally played, would take days, if not weeks to beat. Games that I grew up playing such as super Mario Bros. 3, or Super Mario 64, and Banjo-Kazooie were done in such fast times, that it is almost unbelievable. For these games, knowing the best route to take is the most important. When I played those games, it took me months of playing after school to get good at them. Seeing someone blast though some of the hardest most favorite games of my childhood is both impressive and devastating. Impressive because you get to watch someone do something that is super challenging, and devastating because it took me so long to beat those games and the runner is doing it in a few hours. The Awesome Games Done Quick marathon organized by Speed Demos Archive and Speed Runs Live was a showcase of the runner’s abilities. A marathon is not the ideal place to get the best time on a speed run, they give a runner one chance to do the best they can. But because they only get one shot to do it right, the runners have to practice that much harder and it shows how good they really are. But for that marathon, it was not all about being really good at a game; it was about raising money for charity. During that single week, they raised over 430,000 dollars. That amount will be able to support two-year long studies. Events like Awesome Games Done Quick showcase both compassion of gamers, as well as our ability to master a game. Speed running is a challenging category of gaming that takes a lot of time and effort to perfect. But when the runners put all that time and practice into use, the results are impressive.