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For video game fans, last week contained seven days of entertainment, charity and good will. When folks didn’t have their eyes glued to the World Cup, they could tune into Summer Games Done Quick 2014, the video game speed run charity marathon. It proved to be a very popular event, with viewership peaking at more than 90,000 simultaneous online viewers. As tradition dictates, it’s time to go over the results of another successful GDQ marathon!
Gamers from all over the world pooled their money together to, as of this writing, raise $716,386 dollars for Doctors Without Borders. This more than doubled amount that was raised at last year’s SGDQ.
While spectators watched their favorite games systematically disassembled live through some entertaining speed runs, they also put their money towards winning various prizes and participating in bid wars to determine the direction of the event.
Some popular bid wars included the ever popular “Save or Kill the Animals” decision for the game Super Metroid. In the game, you’re given the option to free some animals from the imminent destruction of an entire planet, but doing so slows you down, which is the antithesis of a speed runner’s nature. Since these people are trying to beat these games as fast as possible, those digital creatures are usually low on the priority list. However, donors could force the runner to save those animals by putting their money towards it. Every year, at every marathon, this vicious bid war has people pouring thousands of dollars into the fate of these animals. Unfortunately for those poor helpless creatures on the planet Zebes, Kill the Animals ended up winning this time around. But, hey, they ended up raising more than $100,000 in the process!
Some incredibly generous donors made numerous individual donations ranging from hundreds to even thousands of dollars. Notch, the creator of Minecraft, plopped down $10,000 dollars on more than one occasion.
This year, SGDQ partnered with the Humble Bundle, which provided anyone donating $25 or more a digital bundle of 11 games that were being run at the marathon. 100 percent of the proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders. They sold 3,255 bundles, raising $83,033, adding to the total.
The event itself was a joy to watch. There were a ton of excellent runs, and even a couple of world records. SGDQ set numerous donation goals and milestones, and they met almost every single one. With a whole week’s worth of content, it would be tough to catch it all, so I’ll point out a few of my personal highlights.
Known as “Boshy” for short, I Wanna Be the Boshy is a clone of the infamous I Wanna Be the Guy. All you need to know about these games is that they are insanely difficult and monstrously unfair. Watching people fail at them has been a great Internet pastime for years. However, witnessing someone who’s actually good at the games is another story. Runner Witwix demonstrated extreme skill to be able to navigate the spiked hell mazes and surprise spider attacks while also simultaneously delivering exceptional commentary on the game and his strategy. Even if he did fail at the game, Witwix had pals willing to donate a dollar for every Game Over screen he saw, and considering the nature of the game, that ended up being quite a few.
I have no idea what ZZT is, and watching this speed run did not help with that one bit. Regardless, the cluelessness that couch commentator Dacidbro mixed with the vague explanations from runner Cosmo makes for a supremely comedic run that looks like utter nonsense. You won’t learn much from watching this ZZT speed run, but you probably will laugh out loud.
This was less of a speed run and more of a demonstration of how incredibly cheesy this 1997 computer game is. The runner opted to let every single ridiculous cutscene play out instead of skipping them, resulting in one of the most bizarre visual narratives ever presented in a video game. It just goes to remind you that Goosebumps was always more comedy than horror.
Again, this is less of a speed run and more of an excuse to show off this off-the-wall ridiculous representation of American “politics” from Japanese developer From Software (makers of the popular Souls series). This game wasn’t even originally part of the schedule. Donors had to raise $3,000 to get the game added to the line-up, and I’m sure glad they did. To summarize, Metal Wolf Chaos is a Japanese-only Xbox release that tells the story of a United States president that pilots a bipedal robot war machine to fight off a coup d’etat instigated by an evil vice president. It’s an anime-level ridiculous tale of patriotism that makes the movie Independence Day look like a serious work of art. It’s pretty amazing.
Some of the most exciting things about these GDQ marathons are the races. Watching a group of speed runners race each other provides not only a chance to see who is the best, but it’s also an interesting way to show off each runner’s individual style and technique. The Super Mario World race was a delight to watch. The competitive element adds a layer of tension and excitement as one mistake can cost you the whole race. Although, the conclusion to this particular race may have been a result of friendly collusion, the resulting victory dance may have been worth it!
While not exactly the most impressive run, it was incredible to see how “broken” a modern video game could be. The runner used some insane tricks to skip large portions of a game that’s less than a year old. With a game so young, it wouldn’t surprised me to see the game be run in a completely different way next year. Some of the skips are so crazy, that you could call them “old school,” which was the general vibe that A Link Between Worlds was going for. I gave the game a perfect score, and it turns out the game even excels in ways likely deemed unintentional!
If you’re new to speed runs, Siglemic is definitely someone you should be watching. Siglemic’s Super Mario 64 runs are such a big deal, that SGDQ set some extreme donation goals to even get it on the schedule. If they raised a grand total of $300,000 by Saturday at midnight, Siglemic would do a 16 star run, providing a short but fun romp through the game. $400,000 would earn viewers a 70 star run, and $500,000 would get a full 120 star run. They easily reached the $500,000 dollar goal and we were all treated to a 100% run of Super Mario 64. While he wasn’t at world record pace, it was an excellent demonstration of execution and skill, and apparently Siglemic was 2 weeks rusty on the game! If you’re casually familiar with Super Mario 64, your mind will be blown by Siglemic’s performance, which could lead you down the path of becoming a fan of video game speed runs, which isn’t a bad road to travel.
Those were my personal highlights from SGDQ 2014, but there’s so much more from the event that I couldn’t possibly list them all! Thankfully, users on Reddit have put together a list of every single run and links to watch them all. Go pick out your favorite game and watch them get obliterated.
If you’re interested in checking out another marathon, Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 starts January 4 early next year!
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra