Jan 6 2017 - 10:25 pm

How to watch Awesome Games Done Quick 2017: A viewer’s guide

Speedrunning’s premier event is coming this weekend. Here’s how to get involved.
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Speedrunning has been around since the dawn of video games. From Pac-Man to Metroid to Call of Duty, gaming fans have developed optimized routes and broken games, all in the name of going fast. It’s as addicting as it is exciting—often people start speedrunning and find they can no longer enjoy the game at its designed pace.

If speedrunning has a championship, it’s the Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) marathon, hosted by Speed Demos Archive and Speed Runs Live, two popular speedrunning communities. For one incredible week, runners and fans from around the world will gather at the live event in Washington D.C. and on Twitch to see games and records get broken.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, each Games Done Quick event seeks to raise money for a worthy cause. AGDQ 2017 will benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation, which earned four out of stars from charity evaluator Charity Navigator. Beating games while beating cancer is the best way to spend the next week.

This year’s event starts on Sunday morning, and we have all the details on how to participate.

What is speedrunning?

Speedrunning means beating games as fast as possible. Anyone who has tried to beat a game (or even a level) fast has speedrun. Skipping worlds in Super Mario Bros.? That’s speedrunning. Chances are if you’ve played any video game and tried to go fast, you’ve tried speedrunning.

Like any competition, speedrunning has rules. Runners are required to compete with OEM hardware, so no emulators (though some will use Japanese consoles for faster text scrolling). And there are different categories: “Any percent” refers to getting to the end credits as fast as possible, no holds barred. Other categories will require runners to complete each dungeon or even achieve 100 percent of the objectives in the game. Different categories require different skills.

At AGDQ, talented runners will take things to the extreme. They’ve found game glitches that allow players to go through walls, manipulate load zones, and skip entire parts of games. Not only that, they are extremely good at the games themselves, with actions-per-minute high enough to impress any real-time strategy enthusiast. All of that means they can beat The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time in minutes rather than hours:

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time world record run

Practice, precision, timing, and the ability to adapt are all required. Those that like to see gamers compete at the highest level will want to tune in.

How to participate in AGDQ 2017

The event schedule can be found online, but it’s basically an around-the-clock marathon beginning Sunday Jan. 8 at 11.30am ET (8.30am PT) and finishing sometime on Saturday, Jan. 14. The physical event will occur in the Dulles Airport Hilton in Washington, D.C., though registration period to attend in-person has ended. The event will be broadcast on the Games Done Quick (GDQ) Twitch Channel, which will be up for nearly the entire marathon. VODs of each run will also be posted afterward on the GDQ YouTube Channel.

Throughout the event, viewers will be encouraged to submit donations to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This organization supports early detection and research to prevent cancer altogether. Throughout the event, donations can be applied to various prize raffles as well as challenges/incentives for the runners.

Charity, prizes, and gaming make a fantastic combination.

What should I watch?

The game roster for this year includes a bit of everything. You have standard 2D scrollers, 3D FPS games, and everything in between. Many runs will be over in a half hour—step away for coffee and it could be over. This year’s longest single run will be an any percent version of Final Fantasy, estimated at over 4 hours. That’s a true marathon.

Along with the standard Zelda entries, there are a few GDQ staples that you’ll want to catch:

  • Few 2D platform games can compare to Mega Man, and we’ll get lots of it in AGDQ 2017. The original will be run on the first day and there is another block on day four (Jan. 11, 4pm ET)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is a beautiful game from independent publisher Moon Studios. There are a lot of lesser-known games like this being run and we encourage you to check out unfamiliar titles (Jan. 11, 12pm ET)
  • Halo is a game that’s been run many times, but this year we get another dose of Halo 2, by far the best for speed running in the franchise. Runner Cryphon has been breaking the game for years and you should expect him to literally fly around the map (Jan. 11, 8pm ET)
  • The Sonic block is always fun: after all, the little blue blur is supposed to go fast. (Jan 12, 1pm ET)
  • Friday night features a bunch of great games: Starting at 6pm ET, we get Ratchet & Clank, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Grand Theft Auto, and Mario before the night’s over (Jan 13, 6pm ET)
  • Finally, Metroid is always a fan favorite and this year’s Super Metroid run will be the penultimate run of the event. This is where we decide whether to kill or save the animals (one of the donation challenges) (Jan 14, 9:45pm ET)

Whatever your favorite game type is, we encourage you to tune in to other games as well. These runners are supremely talented and the event is a ton of fun. Trying to beat cancer and world records is something we can all cheer for.

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