Since 2010 the speedrunning communities of Speed Demos Archive and Speed Runs Live have hosted a live streaming marathon called Games Done Quick. Since 2011 they’ve hosted two events a year: January’s Awesome Games Done Quick and Summer Games Done Quick. This year’s Summer event runs throughout the entire week.
Volunteer speedrunners play games live while viewers are encouraged to donate money. It’s like a modern day telethon. Only way more entertaining. Donations are sent directly to Doctors Without Borders, a medical organization providing healthcare around the world. This year’s Summer event began on Sunday and so far has earned over $200,000 in donations. Last year’s event earned a record-breaking $1.2 million.
What does “speedrun” mean? It’s a method of playing through a game as fast as humanly possible. You haven’t seen fast until you’ve watched these men and women play.
Typically the goal is to simply complete a game, but sometimes extra challenges may be imposed. Examples include 100% completing a game, or not using any of the many glitches and in-game shortcuts that many speedrunners employ. To help encourage donations, Games Done Quick lets viewers engage in a Bid War. The winners can choose various goals, challenges, and other additional options before the runner begins.
Many of the most popular games are classic 90s side-scrollers that can be completed in mere minutes at lighting speed. It can be breathtaking watching these games unfold with precision jumps and memorization of every item and enemy. Speedrunning isn’t regulated to any one genre, however. A speedrunner may choose to tackle larger games like Final Fantasy, which could last several hours (which is still much, much faster than the dozens it normally takes).
Summer Games Done Quick has a full schedule of games and runners on their website. I’m personally looking forward to the Bethesda block Thursday afternoon and evening, with all the Elder Scrolls and recent Fallout titles.