Awesome Games Done Quick, the biggest speedrunning event of the year, kicked off Sunday at noon. It’s a unique spectacle in eSports, and not just because speedrunning is a bit of a niche phenomenon. Instead of cash prizes, the competition raises money for charity every year. And this year will smash the record for giving.
Speedrunners don’t play video games the way they were meant to be played.
Forget what game designers want you to do. A speedrunner’s goal is to race through games as fast as possible. That means finding every hidden glitch, getting the most out of every pixel, exploiting errant code, and turning games inside out.. It’s all in the name of a world record—or, sometimes, finding new ways to look at old games.
So far, competitors have run through sidescrollers like Jak and Dexter, Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario World, and Mega Man. You can watch the stream here.
In the first 24 hours, two moments have already gone viral.
A Super Mario World run from dwangoAC bugged out and turns into a different game entirely. It was a bizarre moment that the audience loved.
AGDQ 2014’s first breakout star is tminator64 who raced through Capcom’s 2003 sidescroller Viewtiful Joe. The key to a good speedrun at AGDQ is speed and charisma: Run fast and talk your audience through it. Tminator64 was masterful. He played so well that his Twitch subscriber numbers skyrocketed sixfold, from 500 to 3,770. You can watch the run here.
“I’ve never seen it run like that before,” viewer SithPL said. “I seriously think that I’m going to start running it now. That was fucking incredible.”
In just about 24 hours, the runners raised over $110,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a cancer prevention research charity. As far as charity and viewers go, this is going to be the biggest AGDQ ever. And at that speed, the tournament could be on pace to raise as much as $1 million.
There’s a lot more to come in the week-long marathon. Cosmo Wright, speedrunning’s biggest star, will take the stage Saturday night in an attempt to set a new world record for The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD.