It’s that time of the year again, when speedrunners from around the world get together for a week-long marathon of game, space and time breaking playthroughs of both famous mainstream games and some obscure gems of the gaming world of which only the runners themselves and their community have heard of.
Yes, it’s Games Done Quick, specifically Summer Games Done Quick, raising money and awareness for Médecins Sans Frontières, aka Doctors Without Borders. Last year the speedrunners community raised nearly $1.3 million and you can be sure they’ll attempt to beat that record this week, using their amazing incentives to draw donors.
During Games Done Quick events, the runners of SpeedDemos Archive and Speedruns Live put several things on offer, from rare collector items and hand-made art pieces by members of the community to major consoles and games donated by major publishers, developers and the event’s sponsor.
But historically it’s the run incentives that draw the most attention. Speedrunning games is a matter of precision—and a handful of luck at times—so for a given amount, the runners will change their playthroughs for an additional challenge. The most famous and usually the biggest draw of every year is the “Save or Kill the animals” for Super Metroid. Runners love to kill the animals—often saying “save the frames, kill the animals”—not taking them in Samus’ ship during the final sequence of the game, but the audience loves to vote for the animals to live.
This year’s Summer Games Done Quick has that very same incentive—as it’s a staple of the GDQs—along with incentives as tame as choosing the file name for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the suit to use in Metroid Prime, Fusion or Chozo, to crazier and more challenging ones such as deciding if the Metroid Fusion run will be a 0% run or 100%, each requiring completely different routes and strategies, and the Karaoke donation goals for Kingdom Hearts II where the runners will sing famous Disney songs during the run.
As for the prizes available, be aware that most of them have a minimum donation requirement with the biggest prize, the custom-built Corsair PC requiring a minimum donation of $150. The second most “expensive” prizes in terms of smallest donation are the NES Classic Edition. Playstation 4 Gold, Overwatch Reaper Statue—which I really want—and Nintendo Switch, for which you become eligible with a donation of at least $50. For most of the other prizes, a donation of $10 is enough to get you into the running, maybe $25 to be sure you can enter most of the giveaways.
But beyond the incentives and prizes, every penny spent goes directly to Doctors Without Borders, an organisation that states the following as their mission: help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from health care.
This year, for the first time in a while, I’ll have enough money on hand to donate to the event and organisation. I deeply admire the members of Doctors Without Borders, not only for their dedication to helping people in need across the globe but their courage, to jump into war-torn areas to deliver that very needed help, putting their own health and lives on the line.
So, if you’re watching, keep an eye out for donation reads, I’ll probably drop one or two throughout the week!
As for the runs, I’m of course looking forward to the classics, such as Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid, which will once again be a race between the highest ranked players of the game. But I’m also looking forward to the race for Mega Max X2, see if Calebhart42 nabs a Games Done Quick win, as he’s failed to do so in the past few years.
But if I’m honest, I’m looking forward the most to the Ys: Origin run, if only because Ys games don’t see much presence, no matter the event, so having this game which I tried to speedrun myself be a part of Summer Games Done Quick, with a fun secret item incentive to it, is very exciting.
Hopefully they don’t only raise lots of money for Doctors Without Borders but also have some amazing runs, in which case I’ll be back next week to comment on the best of them!