Speedrunning is a play-through of a video game as fast as possible. A simple enough goal, but the intricacies of speedrunning are so much deeper than what appears. Speedrunning is not only a competition among players, but also a community attempt to beat everyone’s favorite games as fast as possible.
Speedrunners are notorious for finding glitches in video games to help beat the game faster. This means bypassing “unskippable” sections of the game, finding optimal routes in the levels and finding hidden exploits to help beat the game as fast as possible.
Even games that are decades-old, like Super Mario 64 or Zelda Ocarina of Time, have communities that are extremely active to this day and still constantly find new discoveries in the game in order to cut time off of their respective records. Some records last years only for newcomers to come along and find a strategy no one previously knew and set the records themselves.
Generally, most games have at least two speedrun categories. The “any %” category allows glitches and exploits that would allow one to skip certain parts of the game and complete the game even if one skips half of the game’s levels. Second, there is usually a “glitchless” category in which a player tries to complete the game as fast as possible, but certain exploits and glitches that would allow gamers to skip large portions of the game are not allowed.
However, not every game has the same speedrun categories, and the categories are really determined by the community of that game. Different categories allow for even more opportunities and challenges to arise, and some categories have rules set by the community to make them even more challenging.
One game is Hitman 2, a game where the player takes on the role of a hitman while also trying to figure out the truth of his past. The Hitman 2 community has many speedrun categories such as “Silent Assassin” speedruns where one eliminates their targets while meeting the silent assassin rating at the end of the level.
This requires the player to not be seen on cameras, not be caught trespassing, have no bodies found, only eliminate targets and never be noticed throughout the whole mission. Most players never even get a silent assassin rating due to its difficulty, yet for speedrunners this task is trivial with the only difficulty being finding a faster way to do it.
Perhaps one of the most challenging categories the Hitman 2 speedrunning community offers is “No Loadout Default Start SASO.” This category requires the silent assassin rating on the hardest difficulty, not wearing disguises, starting the level with only one’s bare hands, and starting in the default areas, which are usually the least optimal place to start.
Speedrunners hold charity events which have raised over $28 million dollars for charities such as Doctors with no Borders and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Anyone can donate to these charities and watch the speedrun charity marathons online or live in person; however, the 2021 events are being held online only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick) and SGDQ (Summer Games Done Quick) are both week-long events where everyone is encouraged to donate and enjoy the talent of the speedrunners and the thrill that a new world record may be set before their eyes. Donors can pick the name of the speedrunner’s character in that playthrough, be entered in raffles for prizes, get the speedrunner to explain how certain tricks in the game work and many other fun and insightful things which contribute to a great cause.
Speedrunners are not superhumans but just normal people with a strong love for their games. If anyone wants to try speedrunning a game, they should look on speedrun.com for their game of choice, where there are usually resources for beginners to learn the routes and tricks needed.
If somebody doesn’t feel like speedrunning themselves, they can watch others complete their favorite games very quickly on many websites such as Youtube, Twitch and Speedrun.com, where one can view runs directly from the leaderboards.
by Corey Blue