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Speedrunning: Zoom Zoom, or Pump the Breaks?

Article posted on 1/13/2022

I have long found speed runs fascinating.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the goal is for a player to get through a specific game as quickly as possible in order to beat it with the best possible time. An entire culture has popped up over the years that is centered around this activity, with many generalized and also game-specific communities.

An annual charity fundraiser known as GDQ - or Games Done Quick - is in its 12th year thanks to the wonderful speedrunning community and is actually running right now through January 16th if you want to check it out for yourself! 

What got me thinking about this topic were a couple of articles I came across the other day. Witnessing a speedrunner achieve the best time on a game is always exhilarating, but when you throw other triumphs in - like speedrunning Halo Infinite on the highest difficulty without firing a single bullet - things start to get really exciting.

The highlight reel above says it all: wow. 

I consume a large number of different types of games. I am good at a small handful of them. To be on this level of good in any video game is a level of dedication that I simply don’t have, so I am perfectly content to admire others who do.

Tom - the name of the streamer who performed the speed run - said that the run took four hours of time and had some basic ground rules that he’d set for himself:

  • No firearms - that means bullets and energy guns.
  • Energy swords and gravity hammers are absolutely fair game.
  • Glitching is allowed, but only if they are already known or existing exploits. No mods.
  • He was allowed to use a crowd favorite: the energy coils.

I highly recommend the entire video - it’s an absolute riot of a watch.

My favorite speed runs tend to be of old NES games like Contra or Batman, but I definitely see the appeal of newer games. I’ve definitely come across more than a few titles where the idea of a speed run seems absurd to me, but in the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm, “Life…finds a way.” and boy howdy, that seems to apply to speed runs, too.

I am a game savorer. I like to take my time, to explore, to experiment - and yeah, definitely to mess up! A lot of our games lend themselves well to indulging in a more leisurely playthrough, like Star Control: Origins for example. I easily have about 150 hours logged on that game, and I still don’t know that I saw everything there is to see in it. Could I blitz through the story? Sure, but that’s not where the enjoyment is for me.

What about you? Do you like to watch or participate in speed runs? Share your thoughts with me, gamers!