I have never been one for trying to rush through a game, operating under the “it’s not the destination, but the journey” philosophy. It was inconceivable to me that people would want to beat a 10+ hour game in a matter of half an hour. Over the past week however, I spent every free moment I had glued to my computer screen, watching intently as yet another childhood favorite was conquered in a what seemed like the blink of an eye. It was only my second time watching a Games Done Quick marathon, but I was simply awestruck.
Games Done Quick is a week-long speedrunning marathon for charity held twice each year. From the moment the event kicks off, the schedule is packed back-to-back with games—the event literally doesn’t stop, with some events starting at 2:00 AM or later! Runners play these titles in a variety of ways, using glitches and advanced techniques to achieve the ultimate goal—beating each game as fast as possible under a given set of rules.
Watching these runners helped me realize that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You can either rush through the game or take your time. I enjoy my slow but steady pace when I play. I love being immersed in the world and characters presented to me. Others, however, get just as much enjoyment out of breaking the games. In some sense, it’s almost like a giant puzzle—one that involves trying to figure out the right combination of shortcuts and movement techniques to put you on the optimal path. Speedrunners, then, are puzzle masters, possessing the knowledge, skills, and reflexes to pull off their tricks. Speedruns often demand that their players use highly-technical tricks designed to shave off mere seconds if done correctly—if done incorrectly, these shortcuts can actually cost more time or even ruin the entire run!
Each marathon that occurs during the year is done with charity in mind. All week long, viewers are encouraged to band together in support of a particular cause. Past events have raised upwards of a million dollars for charity, and this week is no exception, raising just a few thousand dollars shy of $1.3 million. In fact, since the inception of these events in 2010, Games Done Quick has raised a staggering $8 million for various charities! Games Done Quick thus places a great emphasis on community togetherness—something the gaming community at large seems to be missing.
Too often, the gaming community in general gets caught up in silly console wars or a general hatred of a particular fanbase. This goes against everything I’ve come to love about the community I’ve been a part of since my early years. I’m not perfect either. I’ve certainly engaged in my fair share of arguments and fandom bashing. But no more. Games Done Quick has shown me what the community can accomplish when we band together. We shouldn’t tear each other down; instead, let’s build each other up. No matter how different we seem to be, we’re all bound by at least one common passion—gaming.
Games, at their core, are here for personal amusement. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how you play them or what console you play on or even what type of games you play, as long as you have fun doing it. We all have different tastes. It’s not up to me to decide what you should like, just as it isn’t your job to tell me what I should like. The important thing is that you simply play.
It may have taken me until SGDQ 2016 to relearn this lesson, but it’s not one I’ll soon forget.