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The kind optimism of Games Done Quick

Last Sunday marked the end of another Awesome Games Done Quick: a weeklong speedrunning fundraising extravaganza benefiting charity. I absolutely loved it! If you don’t know GDQ I’ll summarize it for you: GDQ is a round the clock 7 day long event streamed on Twitch featuring a cast of great, funny gamers and commentators celebrating both old and new games while trying to finish them as quickly as possible. In the meantime people can donate and there’s a number of sweepstakes and incentives to try to generate as much money as possible for charity. There’s two main versions of GDQ, with AGDQ in the winter supporting the Prevent Cancer Foundation and a summer version aptly named Summer Games Done Quick that helps Médecins Sans Frontières. I have been watching both AGDQ and SGDQ for years and donate each time.

All nice and great of course, who doesn’t love a nice fundraising event? The thing that strikes me most however is the unique ambiance of GDQ. Online events can quickly turn sour and a bit nasty. They are incredibly hard to make nice and warm, but the speedrunning community is really something special and paired with the great folks behind GDQ they have made something truly remarkable. Both the runners, the commentators on the couch behind them and the announcers on the mic are very sweet, kind and polite and you can see that GDQ goes at lengths to try to be as inclusive as possible. The crowd you see in the back resembles that and so do the speedrunners. You see a broad slice of geek culture in the crowd and I adore it.

This year I especially enjoyed Lizstar’s run of the horrible DOS game Mega Man 3: The Robots are Revolting in appalling but nostalgic CGA colors :-). This was part of the Awful Games Done Quick block, which is my favorite. This is often the most hilarious part of the whole marathon, however you can’t help but notice the sincere love many of the speedrunners in this block feel for these games, how horrible they may be. I guess playing a game for so many hours makes you grow fond of it however bad it may be.

Another great run in the awful block was the 3DO survival horror game Doctor Hauzer. If you’re into making games like me and worry about frame drops, this slideshow of a game will definitely put things into perspective :-).

I also really enjoyed the Final Fantasy VIII run. I liked it so much that I bought the game immediately afterwards. The run was also timed perfectly for my work day. I had a relatively light day planned with a lot of server maintenance and small feature requests and the run fit perfectly in this schedule. So while doing updates to my servers I could watch this 8+ hours co-op relay run in the background. The immense expertise of the runners and their in-depth knowledge of all nooks and crannies of the game and its lore was wonderful.

The closing game was Super Metroid, which is pretty common for an AGDQ, however this time it featured a gruesome ROM hack called Super Metroid Impossible and I can tell you that it really deserves its name. It was pretty amazing to see the runner Oatsngoats actually finish it and with that also concluding AGDQ 2020, having collected more than 3 million dollars for the PCF. Yay!