The Art of Speed Running

By: Chris Giordano

It takes a lot to beat a video game, right? Not only does it take time and effort, but to a certain extent, it also takes some sort of skill to get the job done. And that's just playing a game regularly. Speed running is a whole new world. The main point of a speed run is quite literal: to beat the game in the shortest amount of time. Runners are extremely careful and methodical in their speed runs, usually having a specific route that they take that will give them an optimal time.

 Source:  Polygon

Source: Polygon

There are many different types of speed runs for a single game, and the gamers that run the same category are often amicable with one other; giving each other tips and tricks in order to beat their previous time. I've been watching speed runs for a little over 3 months now, and I noticed that there are 3 main categories: 100% completion, any % completion with glitches, or any % with no glitches. Each is extremely interesting to watch just to see how they break down the game and find as many glitches as possible to beat it, because the main point in constantly speed running the same game is to shave down those seconds. And because of that, speed runners often dedicate their time and effort to achieve the best time possible within their limitations.

Personally, I find speed runs to be the perfect medicine for any nostalgia kick that I'm going through, specifically with N64 games that took over my childhood. My favourite category is absolutely 100% completion, specifically Znernicus's (twitch.tv/Znernicus) near 7-hour run of Donkey Kong 64 or Siglemic's (twitch.tv/Siglemic) 1:43:54 run of Super Mario 64.  Speed runners sometimes give their own sparse commentary and add personality to the run, but some runners literally remain silent as they run. Why? To focus! It's incredibly hard and, again, takes a tremendous amount of skill in order to achieve what these guys can do. You can discover short cuts or glitches in the game that are seemingly obvious while you watch the run, but as a casual player, would have no idea they were there. For example, did you know you can clip through walls in DK64 and even go out of bounds?

Super Mario Sunshine gets way too much hate, and this any% run proves that it doesn't deserve any of it.

I have never speed ran a game, nor do I intend to, but I don't know how many times I can say it: speed runs are extremely interesting and exciting to watch. (For the record, I said it 3 times, but if that doesn't get my point across then I don't know what will!) They have speed running marathons twice a year, aptly named Awesome Games Done Quick in January, and Summer Games Done Quick at the end of July to the beginning of August. People can donate to their favourite games and runners, and the best thing is that all the money goes to charity. This shows how great the speed running community is.

Watching a speed run is something you have to experience for yourself. Go to the Games Done Quick Youtube channel (youtube.com/gamesdonequick) and watch a run. Prepare to be amazed.