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“Games Done Fast”: Compete for a Good Cause

“Games Done Fast”: Compete for a Good Cause

Reaching the end of a computer game, that is, playing it, is a monumental task in itself for many people. Whether it’s Super Mario Bros. in the 1980s or Elden Ring in 2024, games can be incredibly difficult. Anyone who achieves the goal is celebrated – and those who are really good don’t shy away from comparisons with others.

Since the 1990s at the latest, gamers have been comparing their best times online, which has led to the “speedrunning” trend. The principle behind it is explained quite simply: it’s about getting to the end of the game as quickly as possible. While the average player in the first “Super Mario Bros” game needs about two hours to rescue the princess from the evil Bowser’s castle, the current world record holder Niftski from the USA needs exactly 4 minutes, 54 seconds and 631 milliseconds.

Games were executed quickly/BystanderTim

It is broadcast in front of a live audience, with the speedsters' friends sitting on the couch.

Anything goes

However, instead of bitter competition, there is great solidarity in the Speedrun community as we look for faster ways to play the games. Almost anything is allowed: the racers, as they call themselves, often exploit programming errors and use them to overcome invisible walls in order to reach their destination faster. As in any other sport, the motto here is: practice, practice, practice. Niftski replayed his game more than 15,000 times before setting the record.

The summit is held twice a year in the USA: in the winter, the “Awesome Games Done Quick” is held, and the summer version of the “Summer Games Done Quick” (“SGDQ”) is currently being shown. The main event will be played around the clock for seven days and the events will be streamed live on the Twitch platform. As with other esports events, you don’t need any special skills to watch it to enjoy the spectacle.

dog playing super nintendo

Titles from the history of gaming are played – “fast”. There are game series such as “Super Mario”, “Sonic”, “Zelda” where players show off their skills. Some “rounds” end in just a few minutes, others last for several hours, especially when it comes not only to reaching the goal, but also to solving each additional task in the games in question.

Even those who only know computer games from stories won’t miss such events. For example, on Thursday night (CEST), the fan favorite “Peanut Butter,” a Shiba Inu dog, plays baseball on the Super Nintendo and then has to win. Or when German streamer “Bubzia” plays “Super Mario 64” blindfolded on Saturday night and still finds the goal in forty minutes.

People in

Games were executed quickly/ZanDamascus

The event in the USA now fills an entire hotel.

However, it is not easy to explain the appeal of the event: at first glance, there is a lot happening on the screen, and events often end faster than you can look at them. After two or three matches, you can follow the players better, also because the game is commented on. The online cultural magazine “Wired” witnessed this phenomenon Explained once more philosophically: Games pretend to be worlds, but they are really just machines. “By breaking and manipulating these machines, speedrunners help us see how the world works.”

More than 46 million euros in donations have already been collected.

Participants come from all over the world, of all ages, and the event has long been considered LGBTQ-friendly. The community always invites interested players to try out the speedruns for themselves and offers support, usually via the Discord chat platform. The only requirement is patience.

A screenshot from Twitch showing a player playing Yoshi's Story at the Games Done Quick Event.

Screenshot: twitch.tv/GamesDoneQuick

There is a lot going on on the screen that is reminiscent of Formula 1 racing.

And: “Games Done Quick” is a purely charitable event – in the winter the Cancer Prevention Foundation, an American NGO, is supported, and in the summer the organization Doctors Without Borders is supported. ORF.at said that US$49.4 million (around €46 million) in donations have been collected since 2010. Also because the public can have a say in what happens with their contributions: for example, the difficulty level can be increased if a certain donation target is reached.

The gaming community wants to show its best side.

The aim was to be the antithesis of the often-darkly portrayed gaming community. The event was set up and run by the players themselves, who now take close care to ensure that no controversial statements – Eurovision Song Contest-style – were made. Unlike esports events, where first-person shooters are played competitively, the focus here is on community and good mood. It’s the streaming equivalent of feel-good TV – only faster.

Games Done Quick isn’t the only big name on the scene: the European counterpart to the European Speedrunner Assembly also takes place twice a year. The smaller event, held in Sweden, also involves competing for a good cause.

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