What do people do when they finish a game they love? Start a new one, go outside for once or just play it again? This last answer is what creates speedrunners. The term “speedrunning” seems pretty vague on its own, but it’s just another way gamers have found to get more out of their games.
Speedrunners are people who will try to beat a game as fast as physically possible. Players do this by practicing each game continually until they know each and every pixel and how they react to each other, mastering the game and figuring out any exploits that’ll take a second off their runtime.
Speedrunners have been challenging themselves, and each other, for many years and have developed into a thriving, self-made community. The first speedrunning challenges took place on the website COMPET-N for DOOM back in 1994. DOOM was one of the first games that allowed players to record their speed score in game without having to record it from a third party, which made it easy to upload and compare times with people around the world.
Similar to the Nuzlocke challenges that players use to make the Pokémon games harder, speedrunners will sometimes create rules for themselves to complete in the game. Some challenges will require a player to gather all the collectibles or complete all the side quests in a game in order to consider it complete. Others challenges will only require the credits to roll.
Metroid, released in 1986, had a feature that would reward players for completing timed missions. This made way for 1994’s Super Metriod to become one of the most popular speedrunning games of its time. These games are laid out in a way that reward players who are creative. They tend to have multiple ways to complete a mission, some being faster than others. A good player will be able to determine exactly how long each route will take and minimize their playtime accordingly.
In terms of modern speedrunning, the indie platformer Celeste is very popular. There are 189 registered players for the game on Speedrun.com and the fastest recorded time is 26 minutes, 57 seconds, and 634 milliseconds. For reference, most players who stick only to the main story will finish the game at roughly eight hours.
While many speedrunners hone their skill through practice and repetition, many will use special tricks in order to get where they need to be going. One of the most common tricks is Sequence Breaking, which refers to players finding ways to entirely skip parts of the game. This means they can bypass entire levels, chapters or missions that would otherwise eat up time on their run. This is typically done by exploiting glithces in the game to allow them to get to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible until later in the game.
Speedrunning started out as a way for players to challenge themselves in the games that they loved, but it has since evolved into something much more than that. An entire community has developed, supported by the idea of going faster, and sometimes for a good cause. Games Done Quick hosts two marathons a year to raise money for charity. Beginning in 2010 under the name Speed Demos Archives, GDQ holds winter and summer events. In that time, it has raised over 25 million dollars for various charities in that time, raising a record breaking 3.1 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation in April 2020.
Speedrunners play a game in much the same way a sprinter runs a race. It is never about the journey or the people you meet along the way. It is only about the destination and how fast you can get there.
Keep Reading: What the Heck Happened to G4/TechTV?
Speedrunning is a popular tool gamers uses to breath new life into their favorite games by making replays more challenging.