Summer Games Done Quick: A Primer

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Summer Games Done Quick (or SGDQ) is right around the corner. Returning Sunday, June 23, the charity speedrunning event is back for a week of people playing games really fast and raising money. But what exactly is speedrunning, and why should you tune in?

What is Speedrunning?

Speedrunning is honestly pretty self-explanatory. Remember growing up and racing to beat games or levels as quickly as possible? Take that idea to its extreme. Speedrunning is people who spend hours and hours mastering a game, working to minimize the time it takes to beat said game. Some runs and runners use cheats, hacks, and glitches to get through the game, while others play the game as it was intended, just maybe a bit quicker than anticipated.

What is Games Done Quick?

Games Done Quick is a series of yearly events, with Awesome Games Done Quick happening in January, Summer Games Done Quick happening in June, and a few other smaller events throughout the year. It’s a celebration of speedruns, with runners coming in from across the world to play through their chosen games as fast as possible. Some runners focus on the fun of the game, showcasing broken cheats and goofy interactions. Others look at the science behind their run, explaining how the optimizations came about and how the run has improved over time. Whatever type of runner, however, they’re all here for the same thing: to raise money for charity. GDQ events regularly raise over two million dollars for a variety of charities, including Doctors Without Borders, the Prevent Cancer Foundation and more.

Where can I watch it, and is there a schedule?

GDQ events are all broadcast directly to Twitch on the Games Done Quick channel. The schedule is released ahead of time, and you can check it out here. The event runs 24/7 for the week it’s on, so be sure to check those times, as you may find your favorite game running in the wee hours of the morning.

What are all those percent things on the schedule?

Those are the rules of the run. Things like any%, 100%, and easy% show what the run will be. Any% just means that the game can be completed at any time, using any means. 100% runs mean the game must be fully beaten before the run can end. Easy% and others are variations of the any% category, to show that the game will be run on easy mode or another in-game metric. Every game is different, so there are no two games with the same types of runs. Also, some games include “No-OOB” or “No Glitches.” That just means you won’t be seeing the runner go Out Of Bounds or break the game. The run will take place within the path the developers intended. Also, the number next to the clock is the estimated time to beat. So yes, expect to see the original Metroid beaten in under 15 minutes.

Games to watch for

Say you want to see what the buzz is about, but don’t know where to begin. I’d recommend checking out the opening game, Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Spyro the Dragon first. The event always opens on a high note, and this is sure to be no exception. Super Mario Bros 2 is up a few games later, and Mario games are always great references for speedrunning. Everyone knows what they look like, so seeing them perfected is incredible for newcomers. The Castlevania and Mega Man blocks are always interesting to watch, seeing traditionally slower games get broken insanely fast. Dark Souls II is a must see. Speedrunners take the notoriously difficult Dark Souls series and make them look easy. They’re not. Also, check out Chrono Trigger at the end. The idea of speedrunning JRPGs has always sounded weird to me, but they’re really cool to watch, even clocking in at (only) six hours.

Those are just the highlights of what I would recommend of course. The actual event has over a hundred game being run, so take a look at the schedule. You’re sure to find a run that you wouldn’t expect, as well as a ton that are worth watching.

Written by Sean Mekinda

Sean Mekinda is a fan of all things auteur and weird. He's currently one of the hosts of Beating a Dead Horse, a podcast all about death in media. The first movie he remembers loving is The Iron Giant. The first movie he remembers hating is Alien VS Predator Requiem. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his girlfriend and two needy huskies.

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