“Speed Runners”

Quick paced gaming marathons for charity

Eduardo Hilario /El Observador

With the release of any game both retro and modern, there is always a dedicated few who do their best to beat the game as fast as possible, setting world records in the process. These individuals, widely referred to as “speed runners”, dedicate hundreds of hours studying a game, finding all its glitches and exploits in order to incrementally reduce the world record time by mere fractions of a second.

Watching a speed runner race through Super Mario World in less than twenty minutes is a spectacle not matched by any other. One particular event that is held every year highlighting these speed runners is AGDQ, or Awesome Games Done Quick. The event is held every January and incorporates hundreds of speed runners from across the globe, meeting up and demonstrating their prowess at their specified game while raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, an organization dedicated to cancer research.

AGDQ 2016 was held at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport in Herndon, Virginia to the delight of thousands of gaming fans and speed runners alike. From January 3 to January 10, hundreds of speed runners amazed crowds at the event and on their live stream of the event and managed to raise more than 1.2 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Some of the more notable events involved a speed run race of “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out” between two speed runners while both the participants were blindfolded, relying on audio queues from the game to take them all the way to the end, and a play through of “Super Metroid” in which two speed runners share one controller and beat the game in less than an hour. One of my personal favorites was a speed run of a hacked version of “Super Mario 64” that included multiplayer, a feature not in the original game, beaten in fifteen minutes and nine seconds.

The world of speed runners has always been a fascination to me. All the hours put in to beat a game as fast as possible and the collaboration between the runners is mind boggling. From the four man race to beat every level in Super Mario World to the four minute run of Pokemon Green, speed running is an art form that takes months if not years to learn and even longer to master and events like AGDQ are a prime example that gaming can be used for good.