Competition and gaming have gone a long way together. While most can instantly name an esport title and, if a little older, remember the fun splitscreen was, only a few people would mention speedrunning. Even though it was one of the first things to become competitive. The early Pokémon games had a timer, as did every 2D super Mario game. Up in the top right corner of the screen, you could see your time ticking down. Trying to be the fastest or best, optimizing every step to shave off some split seconds came naturally. But what happened? Why has speedrunning seemingly vanished? Have the days of speedrunning come to an end? What is speedrunning? Where is it popular? This article will explore these questions briefly and introduce you to the world of speedrunning.
PengWin, who currently holds a world record at speedrunning Yu-Gi-Oh: Legacy of the Duelist and Letsklay, a German member of the speedrunning community, have both helped tremendously with the creation of this article. Without their expertise, it wouldn’t have been possible to cover this topic at such a high level of detail.
First and foremost: the days of speedrunning have definitely not come to an end. The communities and forums are well and healthy. They are filled to the brim with extremely passionate and open-minded people welcoming to any newcomer. The communities are small, yes, but it’s not the lack of runners, it’s the nature of the community itself.
You can find a plethora of communities for basically every game. For most of them, there are many different ways to complete the runs. There are any%, tool assisted runs, 100% runs and, depending on the game (like Donkey Kong Country), even runs that go beyond 100%. It is obvious why a single community out of the speedrunning scene pales in comparison to games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Calculating exact numbers is hard, as users can be registered at several forums. The margin of error is too large to be trustworthy.
But what is the meaning behind all of these abbreviations?
Any% runs have one simple goal. Get to the end credits as fast as possible. All side activities will be ignored unless they help to improve the overall time. The actual % of completion is irrelevant. Tool assisted runs use modern tools like the computer to make it a little easier. The tool will assist with pixel perfect jumps or timings that have to be at an exact game tick.
Accomplishments like the Super Mario World credit warp is one example for tool assisted runs. These tools, however, do not eliminate the need for the skill of the player. Despite making things easier, the.player still needs to be incredibly patient. With tool assisted runs, new exploits can be found which help to reduce the time of a normal speedrun, too.
Depending on the game, there are so many categories they sometimes become hard to count. Yu-Gi-Oh: Legacy of the Duelist has over a dozen categories, for example.
If you want to get into speedrunning, you need to be patient, calm, have a lot of time to practice and some way to keep yourself motivated. A fair amount of gallows humour to make light of failures will help quite well with coping, too.
One good way to start is to pick a game you already like a lot and you have played for a long time. If you have finished the game numerous times before, that’s already an advantage. At first, start slowly. Don’t get frustrated because your runs take much longer than others.
For beginners, it is not about times, scoreboards and competition. You should think about yourself and the game you are playing. If you get frustrated, step away for a bit. Have a second game you want to speedrun or play another category of run in the same game and more often than not, this helps to calm down while still learning new things about the game you are playing.
Some of the most popular speedrun games in the world are Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and some of the older Pokemon games (Red/Blue, etc.). Their communities are rather large and very welcoming towards newcomers, and therefore another option to get started.
However, this is an esport website. What does speedrunning have to do with esport? Esport is, according to the Oxford dictionary, defined as a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. In most cases, speedruns are singleplayer games played by one player streaming the game on Twitch. Compared to other, even smaller esport titles, people rarely ever meet up to battle it out on a stage. Still, there are events like Awesome Games Done Quick which keep the fire of speedrunning ablaze.
Whether speedruns are esport or not is up to you. Arguments can be made for either side.
Speedruns are fun to watch, easy to pick up and hard to master. For those seeking challenge and willing to put the effort into it, there is a nice and very open community. For those who dislike speedrunning, well, the community will hardly get in your way. The rest of us can watch in awe how incredibly fast, precise and accurate speedrunners maneuver through the hardest levels and how easy they make it look.
Uncertain? Take some time and watch speedrunning in action and decide for yourself.