Okay, before we get into this, let’s make some things clear. Speedrunning is awesome. There are some incredibly intelligent and skilled people out there that manage to do amazing things with games. They get through them faster than we would ever expect, due to their experience and patience. There is obviously a huge audience for speedrunning events among people who love games. That being said, it almost feels like speedrunning is about to take off even further, perhaps being ready to break into the mainstream.
This all comes after the events of Summer Games Done Quick 2017. It was a great year. While some stats aren’t out yet, we do have some rather important figures from the official tracker. There were 139 speedruns this year. 30,081 donations were made by 22,052 people to the tune of $1,781,445.20, all of which goes to Doctors Without Borders. All of that is absolutely incredible. Hundreds of thousands of people were watching, thousands kicked in money for the cause, and hundreds of people participated. That is a huge deal.
Which calls to mind another niche gaming activity that is working its way into the mainstream. Esports are finding their way into day-to-day culture. Networks like TBS are even preparing their own leagues for games like Injustice. If esports can become a form of entertainment that breaks free from the underground and surfaces as events anyone could enjoy, why not speedrunning? Perhaps we are nearing a time when someone might pitch a show that follows a person as they take an hour to beat a game, perhaps with occasional two hour specials where a more intensive game is played.
After all, speedrunning has only grown in popularity over the years. Consider the Games Done Quick stats from other events. SGDQ 2016 had 177 speedruns, 30,892 donations, and raised $1,294,139.50. When it came to SGDQ 2015, there were 161 runs, 28,529 donations, and $1,215,601,49 raised. And Awesome Games Done Quick 2017 blew everything out of the park with 181 runs, 43,472 donations, and $2,222,790.52 raised. This shows there is demand for such events and enough games and speedrunners to supply it all.
The range of games played even shows how viable speedrunning could be in a setting with more visibility. At SGDQ 2017, we saw an array of old and new games. Nier: Automata’s A ending was reached in just over two hours by Halfcoordinated. The same went for Halo: Combat Evolved Legendary run by Garish and JustinDM’s 100% Metroid Prime run. Akiteru beat The Lion King in 28 minutes, according to the run index. We even saw Azorae go through the Portal 2 cooperative campaign alone in under an hour and 19 minutes and watched Ultimolce beat Earthbound in under four and a half hours.
Sure, there would be some obstacles to making a speedrunning show some sort of regular event. Various restrictions would limit the games played to ones that could probably be completed in under an hour, unless some outlet decided to air a longer special. Still, the popularity behind speedrunning makes it feel like we’re reaching a point where it should become part of the public eye. We should be seeing speedrunning on a larger scale, and the people capable of such feats should be getting more attention. More people should be enjoying this activity.
Image Credit: Games Done Quick