Speedrunning: Beating a videogame record


Graphic by Jessica Mouton

“Speedrunning” is the act of completing a videogame as quickly as possible. It’s been around since the ‘70s and is a lot more fun than people think. If you don’t play videogames you are probably wondering, “why should I care?” It’s plain and simple; it’s so much fun. Go ahead and Google search your favorite game ever, whether it’s one you played as a kid or the first game you can think of, and chances are that it’s got an insane record you could never even come close to beating as a kid. If no game comes to mind, any Mario game has a run that’s always fun to watch. Before the internet, arcade game speedruns were mostly kept track of by Guinness World Records. Now, it’s really cool to look back on some records that are almost 50 years old.

Doom and Quake were released in ‘93 and ‘96, respectively, and kickstarted the speedrun craze. These games allowed players to save files of their button presses to prove they weren’t cheating and show other players how to achieve such records. The rise of the internet also helped by allowing those files to be shared. As multiple sites popped up, players were allowed to upload their records. These two games had runners finding insane ways to beat the game and weird movements that save milliseconds and are still used today.

Players even offer bounties to the speedrunner who can beat a certain record or find a certain glitch to make future runs easier. As of Aug. 19, 2019, a bounty of $4,000 is up on the Reddit thread, “r/speedrun,” for anyone who can beat the current time of 1:38:51 in Super Mario 64. If the record can’t be broken by this year, the current owner gets it. Reddit user FBomb2F stated his reasoning for this bet as, “I love the 120-star category, and I am an avid fan of competition.”

Certain records are already believed to be unbeatable, like a very recent record for Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, in which the player gets incredibly lucky on three of the game’s luck-based mini-games, saving him seven minutes on his run. This run, as it stands right now, is nearly perfect and almost impossible to beat. Yet, it is records like this that make people want to try. An 18-minute breakdown of the run can be seen here.

The real fun of spectating speedruns comes from the event “Games Done Quick,” often shortened to GDQ. Hosted in different places every year, thousands of members of the community come together to watch people break records. It’s often the audience that makes a certain run incredibly fun to watch or inspires the runner to perform well. They also do two massive week-long live-streams a year, taking millions of dollars of donations to give to different charities, with last year’s charity being Doctors Without Borders. 

Speedrunning does sound a little silly, but at the end of the day, it’s incredibly satisfying to watch someone quickly beat a record as millions watch online in support. I’ve attached what I believe to be some of the most fun speedruns to come of the recent years, and I hope I’ve interested you in a new hobby.

Dark Souls done in 34 minutes

100% Mario 64 Record 

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild in 28 Minutes

My personal favorite speedrun Blindfolded Super Punch Out Run in 16 Minutes