Summer Games Done Quick, what is it? Speedrunning, what is that? Gamers play for charity? I didn’t know they did that. These are probably some questions going through your head right now going into this article. So when I had the opportunity to attend this years event, I set out to get a deeper look into this event and the people behind it. So here we go!
Speedrunning is playing a game with the intention of beating it as fast as possible. This method of playing games has created a community, and that community has come together time and time again to show their skills and raise money for charity. 2016’s event, Summer Games Done Quick, is looking to raise over 1.2 million dollars for Doctors Without Borders. This is where SGDQ differs a bit from other gaming gatherings, the intention is to raise money for charity and is completely devoted to speedrunning, and this gives the entire event a unique feeling of camaraderie.
My history and familiarity with speedrunning is fairly minimal. I’ll watch the occasional world record run and have tuned into past Games Done Quick events for specific games I was interested in seeing. So attending a speedrunning event is a brand new and somewhat unexpected experience for me, and I was excited to see everything first hand.
My adventure begins with a tour of the event’s various rooms by Chris Grant, one of the staff. The event is brimming with excitement, people gathered in groups and hanging out with people they’ve known for years but only see each other at events like SGDQ. The stream room is is eagerly awaiting the next run while they set up for it. A few people are scattered about in the practice room, far quieter as runners focus on perfecting their techniques. There’s a casual lounge where a group of people are hanging out playing a card game, laughter erupts from the table as we leave. A few rooms are empty but ready and setup for use for people to hang out and play games in. The final room is ringing with the chimes and blings of pinball machines and arcade cabinets. Everything is laid out to maximize the fun, and easy access for everyone present, very comfortable and inviting.
Talking to people about the event has to be done in groups because no one is alone at SGDQ. Everyone praises the community and the excitement at seeing friends they’ve known for years for the first time in person. I can’t help but smile as person after person tells me about the moment they met the friend they were with for the first time. Everyone is happy to see their friends who’ve come from all over. A few had met each other on the train to the event, and they shared a laugh as they recounted their meeting. Some runners and attendants are well known, as I discovered during one conversation, as people kept coming to hug and have their picture taken with the runner known as P4NTZ. He knew many of them and was excited to meet and greet the ones he didn’t. This is a common occurrence all throughout SGDQ. People excited to meet their favorite runner, excited to see their distant friends, excited to meet new people, excited to learn and exchange running strategies, the entire community is alive and thriving at SGDQ. This is part of what makes Games Done Quick special compared to other events is that the community is really close while being incredibly inviting to new people, one runner, Snowman, described “It’s a very humble and accepting community, like family”.
They all gather together to do what they love to do, have fun, and they do it with the intention of making a difference, a $1.2 million difference to charity. Runners grin and describe to me the adrenaline rush they get when they get to run in front of a crowd, and the satisfaction in knowing it’s for a good cause. It reminds me of talking to my friends who have run marathons for charity, it is the same sense of accomplishment. The training, practice, and effort that all goes into preparing for opportunities like this pays off as they showcase their skills by playing games quickly. They also gather to support one another, hoping to see their friends achieve new personal bests, or even world records. Pretty much everyone I talked to mentioned the excitement generated when that happens and being present to see it and be able to congratulate them in person is a rare opportunity.
The summer crowd is a bit different as those who are in school during the winter event can now attend. They’re ecstatic to participate and be around others who love to do what they love to do. Some are glad to be in Minneapolis, because it’s not as hot. It’s a nice change of pace for those from Florida and Texas. It’s a slower pace for those from New York and Los Angelas, but also a large change for those from rural areas. Another attendant mentioned that even though they hate traveling the people are worth the effort. While most are from the states, a few have traveled internationally to be a part of the fun. The end result is an open and diverse group of people who love gaming and being able to hang out with those who share their speedrunning passions.
At the end of the day my mind is swimming at how incredible this event is and what they are accomplishing for the charities they support. At how supportive and friendly the community is, and how excited they are for each other and simply being together. It’s encouraging to see gamers coming together for such a great cause and I’m proud that Minneapolis gets to be a part of such an amazing endeavor.
I recommend looking at their schedule ( https://gamesdonequick.com/schedule ) looking through the nearly weeks worth of non stop streaming and experience the nostalgia and amazement of your favorite games being played on another level! Don’t forget to consider donating as well to support Doctors Without Borders
A huge thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to chat with me about why they love Games Done Quick and what they do. Thank you @DaltonSRL_ @A2Rhombus @Chockrit @P4ntzSpeedruns @snnowmann @giygasblues @dunk2001 and @BIGHONKINBURGE