Gaming on a Timer

Gotta Go Fast! – GDQ Fever 2017

GDQ, or Games Done Quick is – as the title implies – a bi-annual week-long event centered around speedrunning games (that is to say, completing them in the least amount of time possible). In recent years, both the summer and winter versions of this event – titled AGDQ and SGDQ (Awesome Games / Summer Games respectively) have exploded in popularity, with tens of thousands of viewers tuning in from all around the globe to watch streamers run their favorite games almost 24/7.

I’ve always found speedruns fascinating – to “run” a game requires a lot of practice and skill on the player’s side (the speedrunner, or runner for short) but, more importantly, it also demands an intimate knowledge of the game – break points, potential glitches, a very good understanding of level layouts and gameplay mechanics…

These are basically people that can break a game down and make it dance to their own tune. 100-hour long JRPG completed in under 3 hours? They did that. Old-time classics from your childhood destroyed in under 20 minutes? Ditto. Competing against other speedrunners in themed races to see who can complete a game the fastest? Done, done and done.

For me though, the best thing about GDQ isn’t the actual runs (since the event is planned around a strict timetable, the speedrunners tend to play it safer to avoid restarts or other unfavorable states, so “event runs” aren’t usually as flashy as their world-record-pace ones) but the amount of knowledge and insight there’s to be had by watching.

Nearly every runner is more than happy to explain the ins and outs of their game of choice, all the little breaking points they exploit to shave time off the clock, engine quirks and faults, the minute differences between movement types and which ones work best depending on the level in question. Coupled with “the couch”, where other runners provide commentary while each run is ongoing, there is a lot to learn here.

Even better, all this knowledge is eventually archived in the event’s YouTube channel, making it a great way to acquaint oneself with the concept of speedrunning in general.

Finally, as with my other favorite marathon streaming event, Desert Bus for Hope, Games Done Quick directly benefits certain charities; in SGDQ’s case, this year’s donations and bids go towards Medecins Sans Frontieres (a.k.a. Doctors Without Borders) so viewers can both benefit from the veritable treasure trove of knowledge and do good – something that the gaming community has time and again proved to be one of our most positive attributes.

It’s also worth noting that the previous event, Awesome Games Done Quick (Jan 2017), managed to raise over $2,000,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

If you want to check out this year’s Summer Games Done Quick, you can head over to their Twitch channel, where the event is ongoing until the end of this week. Additionally, if you’re interested in a specific game, you can find a timetable here, adjusted for your local time.

What are your favorite games to watch being ran? Have you ever tried running a game yourself? Drop us a line in the comments below! And as they say… gotta go fast!

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