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Press Start

Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

Press Start: Speedruns are a different way to enjoy gaming

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What do you do after you've beaten a game, seen all it has to offer, but you still can't get enough of it?

Why you speedrun it, of course.

A speedrun is when someone plays through a game as quickly as he or she can, often using glitches and exploits to get the fastest completion time possible. Speedruns are popular partly because they're fun to do. It's even better watching record-holders complete hours-long games in mere minutes.

Take “Dark Souls III,” my recent gaming addiction, for example. My first playthrough took well over 30 hours to complete. Speedrunners can beat every boss in the game in less than an hour.

That's even more remarkable when you consider “Dark Souls III” is a notoriously difficult game. To successfully speedrun it means boss fights must be executed flawlessly. On top of that, “Dark Souls III” speedrunners use sub-par weapons and armor, and they often are under-leveled as they go through the game. This is because they can't afford the time to find the best gear or to make their characters as strong as possible. Instead, they become masters of the game and beat bosses they shouldn't be strong enough to face.

Another example is “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” a classic game for the Nintendo 64. I once watched a speedrunner beat it in less than 20 minutes by exploiting the game. The player used a complex, hard-to-execute glitch to skip the majority of the game's content and go straight to the final boss fight, much to the delight of his fans.

In short, speedrunning is endlessly entertaining and awe-inspiring to watch.

Your average gamer has probably at least attempted speedrunning in some form at one point or another. I know I have. Probably a decade ago, I was obsessed with “TimeSplitters: Future Perfect,” a PlayStation 2 game with a short story. After beating it half a dozen times, I decided to play through it in one sitting to see how quickly I could do it.

It look less than two hours.

Years later, I bought “Portal 2,” a puzzle game that was relatively short, as well. My first playthrough took several hours spread out over a few days, but immediately after beating it, I gave it another shot with all the puzzle solutions fresh in my mind. If memory serves, it took me about five hours to beat that game in a single sitting. It was fun to experience “Portal 2” from start to finish with no breaks, even though my completion time was nothing to write home about.

After beating “Dark Souls III” for a second time, I plan to speedrun it, too. I'll never be as good as professional gamers who make speedruns look like child's play, but I'm curious as to how quickly I can get to the credits considering my first run took 30 hours. My goal is five hours.

If you want to see speedrunning for yourself, check out "Games Done Quick" running through Sunday at gamesdonequick.com. This biannual marathon features skilled players speedrunning through various games as viewers watch and donate money to different charities. The event has raised more than $8 million for charities since its inception in 2010.

Not only will you get to celebrate speedrunning with other gamers and curious onlookers and learn firsthand how the pros do it, you can help fund cancer research and enter to win prizes at the same time, if you're so inclined. It's a win for all.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some speedrunning to practice.


Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jmagee@gazettextra.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.


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