Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really love playing video games but I wish I had more ways to enjoy them?” Well have no fear because yours truly is here to expose you to a whole new world of gaming, known as “speedrunning”. What is speedrunning you may ask? It’s the concept of finishing a game as fast as possible with a high emphasis on playing the game of choice in an optimal and efficient manner. This is accomplished with a combination of skill, knowledge, dexterity and memorization. Speedrunning has been a passion of mine for about a year it’s been one of the most rewarding ways to experience new games and some of the classic titles from my childhood. So grab those controllers friends and prepare for this primer on the top 20 reasons why you should speedrun video games.
1. It’s deceptively accessible
When I first started speedrunning, I was quite intimidated by seeing other runners perform their games with such precision and skill, and I told myself that I couldn’t ever possibly measure up to the standards set by such skilled runners. With that in the back of my mind, I felt this sort of pressure to perform before even playing the game. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to clear my mind of those high standards and focus on just having fun by playing the games that I loved. My first speedgame was “Castlevania Aria of Sorrow”, and I had some general knowledge about the game from my prior experience playing it. The main hurdle I had was figuring out where to start, and I easily discovered the plethora of resources available for newcomers such as: video walkthroughs on Youtube, text write ups on Speedruns.com, and a timer program provided by Livesplit. By the time I started my first run, it was just as simple as turning on the timer and playing the game!
2. It’s great for meeting others
If I told my past self that pursuing speedrunning would be the catalyst for meeting my best friend I would have laughed at the thought. However, I discovered many communities through Discord servers that I found on Speedruns.com, various Twitch streamers, as well as the speedrun subreddit. Some of my favorite community experiences involve having been mentored and mentoring others on how to run their game. Communities let you be a part of something greater and let you engage in fun activities such as: races, discussing strategies, charity events, theory crafting, and simply just meeting some nice people. A positive speedrun community can be just as powerful a motivator as learning the game itself.
3. Unlimited Replayability
Speedrunning as a hobby offers a constant cycle of gameplay, and a practical understanding of where to improve after each run. To me I view speedrunning as an art form, and like any artist dedicated to their craft, there is a strong desire to improve and perfect that art form. Speedrunning a game comes with an explicit purpose, to play a game as fast as possible. The replayability factor then becomes synonymous with your passion improve, and as someone who strives to always be better than yesterday, that just means the fun will never end.
4. It’s a workout for your hands
If thumbs could get a six pack, then I’m certainly convinced they’d have them after doing several hours of speedrunning. The amount of dexterity and movement that some games require to be ran, can feel like you’re lifting weights. In the case of longer games, it can be the equivalent to running a 10K race.
5. You’ll think faster
Speedrunning may or may not have given me reaction times faster than Keanu Reeve’s in The Matrix. One of the common tricks you can find when speedruning is what we runners like to call a “one frame trick”. For example, let’s say you’re standing over a pit of lava and you have 1/60th of a second to react to this, otherwise you fall. Now think about how long it takes for you to hit your morning alarm. Boom, mind blown.
6. You’ll become the world’s greatest improviser
If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout my life, it’s that you need to adapt in order to get through many of the challenges thrown at you. Thankfully that same life lesson applies to speedrunning! It’s not always possible to get the optimal strategy while doing a run, which is why it’s important to buckle down and try to make the best with what you have without resetting, and speedrunning helps retrain you to think on the fly faster than driving in oncoming traffic.
7. It makes for an awesome spectacle
If you have ever taken the time to watch professional ice skating, then you would have noticed the fluid and graceful movement of the skaters. This movement isn’t that much different than the avatars on screen while speedrunning a game. There’s a lot of spectacle involved with performing such a high intensity task while the roar of the crowd gives you the strength to carry forward, and truth be told, it’s beautiful to watch when everything aligns.
8. You can find your niche with your speedgame
As a speedrunner and a Twitch streamer myself, I perform my runs live, and as a part of my branding I am known as a speedrunner of the Castlevania series. Speedrunning has allowed me to carve out my own identity in the speedrunning community, and helped with bringing in people who also love the series. Your niche can even be related to the category of the speedrun or the genre of games you run as well. For example, my niche is primarily platforming games and the categories I run are usually Any% which usually involves beating the game with only what is necessary. Other examples for categories would be 100% which involves getting every item for the run or low% which has the player getting no upgrades. These categories of speedrunning provide unique methods of enjoyment for all types of people. Speedrunning my niche has provided me with endless enjoyment, and has given me a sense of purpose. I firmly believe there is a speedgame out there for everyone.
9. It’s a challenge
Beating games is hard enough as it is, but attempting to beat some games without certain items you would normally get in a regular playthrough, now that’s a whole ‘nother ball park. Speedruns will test your mettle by forcing you to finish them with less equipment, or by being underleveled at times. Initially I found this to be quite challenging, but the feeling of mastering what was once difficult feels like you’re soaring through the skies.
10. Self improvement is tangible
Speedrunning and mountain climbing have one thing in common, you FEEL and see your results. Every time you manage to get a new personal best, you’re setting a new standard for what you’ve done before, and you can keep track of your timeline as well. The fact that you can say that you went from being at the base of the mountain to being able to see everything from the very top is both palpable and breathtaking.
11. It’s a hobby derived from passion
Speedrunning is quite possibly one of the most intimate ways to enjoy your favorite game. This mainly stems from the fact that you really need to love something to be able to dedicate as many hours as speedrunning requires. For me, it’s the perfect way to sit down and immerse myself in all the different facets within my speedgame of choice. I revel in the chance to brandish the Vampire Killer whip in “Castlevania” as the Belmonts do, and it makes me feel like I’m part of the Gothic fantasy adventure. In essence, speedrunning allows you to relive that same kind of fantasy in a new light every time you pick up the controller.
12. Nobody can bring you down
As someone who used to play a decent amount of competitive team games, I will say that the most frustrating part of the game happened to stem from other people. I mainly felt this way because its significantly harder to get an evaluation of your personal skill level in a group setting. Speedrunning successfully fills in that gap, because you’re only ever competing with yourself and you can see your skill-set and know where to fix your mistakes at any given moment.
13. You’ll have encyclopedic knowledge of menus
One of the skills used in speedrunning is known as “menuing”. Menuing is the art of being able to quickly select the right option within a games menu system. This skill not only demands lighting fast mechanical skill, but it has the added benefit of ensuring that you will be the world’s greatest waiter with your photographic memory.
14. Your research pays off
If my college classes have taught me anything, it’s that research is incredibly useful. I didn’t expect this to also pay off for speedrunning as well! Part of the experience of speedrunning is looking up optimal routes, tricks, or strategies to make it through the game in the fastest time. This is done simply by watching runs and trying to emulate what others have done. You’d be surprised at how many speedruns I’ve casually watched and just said “Hey, I can use that in my run!”. A good example of this would be a technique called neon jumping within the Mega Man X games which has saved me several minutes in many of my own runs.
15. Theory crafting is fun
Something really rewarding about running a new or lesser known game, is that you’re effectively a pioneer in terms of how the run is developed. With very little information to be found, you basically get free reign in figuring out what to do, making it both liberating and motivating to find skips that can shave minutes off a run. Ultimately forever carving out the meta for future speedruns.
16. It makes you feel confident
Being good at your speedgame feels good, and I mean REALLY good. Similar to weight lifting, speedrunning gradually builds up confidence the more you play and improve. When you finally get those muscles or personal best built up, then you’ll feel like it was all worth it. Rest assured, your hard work does indeed pay off!
17. The Journey is worth every second
Every now and then, I look back and think to myself of all the games I’ve ran, and all the people I’ve met. At this point in time I’ve ran over 30 games, and met hundreds of people who share that same passion, and even met my best friends. To think, it all started with picking up that controller that one fateful day with a desire to simply go fast.
18. Charity events let you give back
“Games Done Quick” is a speedrun charity event that raises millions of dollars with the intent of funding cancer research. This event not only gives runners a way of showcasing their skills and game to a wide audience, but it also brings people together for a genuinely noble cause. Events like these are what I consider to be one of the best ways of giving back your time from all the hours spent doing runs in a manner that makes the world a better place.
19. You’re always learning
As a recent college graduate, I found it alienating knowing that I was in an environment that didn’t constantly test me to learn and expand my mind. I felt like I was at a point in my life where I wanted to dig deep into my favorite hobbies, and learn more about what made them tick. For me, getting into speedrunning happened to be one of the most practical ways of learning and challenging myself mentally on a daily basis. It meant that I needed to have a response to every stimuli in front of me and as someone who is naturally a hands on learner, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the controller.
20. It inspires others to do the same
One of the biggest reasons why I specifically have chosen to run so many games, is to prove that anyone can be a speedrunner if they put their mind to it. I pursued this path with the hope of both encouraging and inspiring someone to want to get into the hobby themselves, and so far I’ve seen much success in achieving this goal. The single best moment I’ve had throughout speedrunning was encouraging my friends by being there for them during their first runs. It’s funny, because when I asked one of my closest friends after his first run, “What made you want to speedrun this Dagan?” he told me, “It was you, Lee.”
Speedrunning has been one of the most positive hobbies I’ve picked up over this past year and it’s something I look forward to on a daily basis. If there’s ever a point where you are considering getting into the hobby let me leave you with this. Trust me when I say that you can do it. Speedrunning is born out of a desire and passion to both improve on a personal level and to have a deeper appreciation for the games that you love. I know it may seem intimidating and even impossible at times especially in the early stages, but as long as you are kind to yourself, patient when faced with adversity, and most importantly determined to take on new challenges, then you can truly achieve the impossible.
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Lee is a Magna Cum Laude English Literature Graduate. He began his video gaming career at just one year old where being left handed, he would hold the gaming remote upside down and still beat all the levels far beyond anyone his age. Twenty five years later, his passion for gaming meta-morphed into the entertainment industry as a Professional Twitch Streamer, Content Blogger, Script Editor and Fiction Writer. His passions include video games, health foods, excersize and providing a wholesome online community for all to enjoy!
You can find him on these platforms:
Twitch.com Handle -“JustLeeBelmont”
Fiction Blog- TheDenOfReads.com