In a recent Kotaku story, Steve Mariconz featured Awesome Games Done Quick, a week-long charity event organized by Speed Demos Archive (SDA). Twice a year, expert gamers gather and play through classic video games at breakneck speed in the name of philanthropy. This year’s event kicked off this Monday. So far, this event has raised $293,288.69. Their goal is $500,000.

If you’ve never seen someone speed-run a game, you should watch a video. It’s a blast. Either by taking advantage of glitches in the code or by maneuvering the game’s story with serious aplomb, gamers from all walks of life have challenged each other and themselves to complete entire videogames in as little time as possible. Videos recording their mad skills are then uploaded to the internet, challenging and motivating other gamers to join the fun.

“Above all else, it’s about appreciation,” says Bradley Stafford, a longtime gamer and fan of speed running, “These gamers need to know every nook and cranny of the games they run in order to accomplish the best possible times. It gives them an incredibly deep understanding of every facet of the game’s design.”

Before too long, the gamers who were devoting hours to this curious hobby realized that not only could they get a lot of youtube views for their fleet feats, they could in fact use their efforts for a more noble cause: raising money for charity. Speed Demos Archive first found its feet as a host for speed runs of the game Quake, a 1996 first-person shooter. In 2010, they took notice of another group of speed runners, TheSpeedGamers, who started marathoning for charity in 2008.

After SDA’s first charity marathon proved a success, they began hosting them twice a year—Awesome Games Done Quick in the winter and Summer Games Done Quick in the summer. The summer marathon benefits a variety of organizations, but every winter marathon is partnered with the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The last eight marathons have helped SDA earn over $1 million. The livestream of Awesome Games Done Quick will run 24/7 until January 11th. A schedule of the games to be played can be found by clicking here. If you’re interested in donating, click here. Your donations could even win you some pretty cool limited-edition prizes.

(Source: Kotaku)

[Edit: Speed Demos Archive not only reached their goal, but more than doubled it! Click here to learn more.]

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Courtney is Pixelkin's Associate Managing Editor. While working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, she mentored young girls in teamwork, leadership, personal responsibility, and safety. Today, she spends her time studying adolescent development and using literary analysis techniques to examine video games.