Highlights from AGDQ 2014: The gaming marathon that raised $1 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation
Last week, Awesome Games Done Quick 2014, hosted by the Speed Demos Archive, shattered their previous donation record of $448,000 by raising more than $1 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, an organization devoted to cancer prevention and early detection. More than 18,000 unique donors contributed to the event in hopes of winning prizes, seeing their favorite games, interacting with their favorite runners, and just helping out in the fight against cancer.
The marathon consisted of various speed runners beating games as fast as possible, often utilizing tricks and exploits that required extensive understanding of the game’s mechanics and programming. Viewers peaked at more than 110,000 viewers to see games systematically destroyed live. Here are my personal highlights from the event, along with completion times and links to the archived videos.
Apparently you don’t need eyes to be a contender! Runners SinisterWon and Zallard1 showed off their in-depth knowledge of the game by playing through Punch-Out!! and Super Punch-Out!! blindfolded. The moments in which Zallard was able to accurately predict the times of his knockouts were particularly amusing, but it also shows how well-prepared these players were for the challenge.
This series of runs brought insight into the world of TAS (tool-assisted) runs and how they are performed. By recording inputs on a computer and replaying them back into a game console, crazy tricks can be achieved that no human could possibly perform. They showed off some popular runs of Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64, but this was also the debut of an insane Super Mario World run that allowed the player to program his own game within the game itself.
Runners BassBoost and RWhiteGoose showed off their excellent teamwork and coordination skills in this cooperative run of this Nintendo 64 classic. Each player had to work together to control a single James Bond in his quest to save the world from the destructive power of the GoldenEye satellite. The run is worth watching for WhiteGoose’s enthusiastic commentary alone. This live playthrough ended up being a world record run.
If you’ve never heard of this Japanese-style indie RPG featuring basketball star Charles Barkley, you definitely need to check this out. This particular run was a roller coaster of emotions, with runner Laz’s summarizing the ridiculous plot of the game, enduring of pizza break interrupts, dealing with the game’s apparent dislike of Windows 8, and sharing his own personal story of his father’s fight against cancer. You’ll likely laugh, cry and cringe while you witness a digital Charles Barkley’s adventures in the Post-Cyberpocalypse of 2053.
The ever-popular Cosmo breaks down the differences between this high definition remake and the Gamecube original, down to the minutest of details. Like usual, Cosmo provides very interesting commentary that explains the various exploits of the game’s engine that he uses to save Hyrule in less than 5 hours. If you ever wanted to see the Wind Waker in Spanish, this is your chance. Apparently the game is faster in that language, and speed runners do all they can to save a few seconds!
If you had to watch only one thing from AGDQ 2014, this is would have to be it. Known Super Metroid speedrunners Garrison, Krauser, Zoast and Ivan raced to see who could get to the end of the game first. The result was the highest quality stream on AGDQ to date with 4 separate screens running simultaneously and some excellent sports broadcast-like commentary from SinisterWon and Go1den, giving it the feel of a real sporting event. Speed and efficiency were key, so you’d often see gameplay mirrored between different runners at the beginning of the run. As the runners started to break up with their own style, it became a true race, brimming with tension. Any mistake could cost them the whole run, as a game over would require them to start the game over from the beginning, essentially kicking them out of the race. It was truly an intense viewing experience as players made huge comebacks and suffered great setbacks. The run ended with first and second place crossing the finish line within seconds of each other. The high production values of this run probably shows how far these speedrun gaming marathons have come since the first “Classic Games Done Quick” in 2010.
In the end, it’s great to see so many people get together to raise so much money for such a great cause. Next time someone suggests that video games are a waste of time, show them what this group of gamers managed accomplished with thousands of other like-minded people online. $1 million is tough number to beat, but we’ll see if the speed running crew is able to top that at Summer Games Done Quick 2014, already scheduled for the end of June.
For a full list of the games played at AGDQ 2014, as well as links to the video archives, check out the AGDQ Video on Demand Thread on Reddit.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra