Gaming For Good: Games Done Quick

Justin Wicker covers the charity gaming event that raised over 1.2 million dollars. 

Unfortunately the ‘gamer’ (still not fond of the word, but that's a conversation for a different article) subculture still carries a lot of baggage and stereotypes, even in 2016. Fortunately for the world, us gaming folk make it out of our parent’s basements from time to time to do some good for humanity as a whole. Some of you might be aware of different gaming-related charity events, or even the speedrunning community, but I think it is important to spread the word about one of the most awesome (and most successful) charity events every year: Summer Games Done Quick!

For those of you who don't know, ‘speedrunning’ is a practice in the video gaming community where players try to complete games as fast as possible, often taking advantage of in-game bugs and precise mechanics along the way. Members of the community collaborate to find ideal routes through the games, and new techniques to save time, while simultaneously competing with each other for record times and bragging rights. Speedrunning is really neat, something genuinely unique to the medium of games, and as you are going to see, also a great way to help the world.

Twice a year, the Speed Demos Archive and Speedrunslive communities come together to host massive video game marathon streams for charity: Summer Games Done Quick and Awesome Games Done Quick. Just this past Fourth of July week, the speedrunning community came together once again for the 6th annual summer marathon benefiting Doctors without Borders. For seven days straight, there was a full 24-hour stream of expert game runners doing runs, commentating, and showing off their expert skills. Runners are quick to ‘destroy your childhood’ and take pleasure in reducing video game favorites of the 80s and 90s to completion in just a matter of minutes. These runners practice for countless hundreds of hours, and some games are so well mapped that runners invest dozens of hours of practice just to master tricks that only save fractions of a second. It is a seriously devoted community, a devotion only matched by their passion for helping others and showing off.

This year, Summer Games Done Quick raised over $1.2 million for Doctors without Borders over the course of the week. They are very clever bunch, and over the last few years they have mastered their particular flavor of how to encourage donations from the hardcore gamers and passive observers alike. It is not simply an endurance run asking for donations, they leave things up to the community and have donations to make decisions. They plan a schedule and announce game ahead of time, but they let the community vote on things like bonus game runs, custom character names, and even donation incentives to challenge runners to beat times or accomplish specific tricks. The players’ enthusiasm is infectious, and they strike such a perfect balance of entertainment and explaining the games that I would suggest this even to individuals only in the periphery of video game fandom.

It is a great thing to help others, especially now considering the state of the world, and it makes me happy to know that gamers can come together to do something great. I hope the positive nature and acceptance of the speedrunning community becomes as infectious as the laughter and entertainment they purport. Just think about how much we could accomplish with just a few more people, or a few more ideas every year. Games are awesome, and let's make it a goal to be even better!

All of the runs from the event are archived on YouTube here if you want to check it out: Games Done Quick Youtube

For more information check out their website for more events and opportunities to donate: Games Done Quick.

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-Justin Wicker