Short Stories and Freewriting

Top 20 Reasons Why You Should Speedrun Video Games

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.”

In Closing

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.

Published 10/03/2019,

All Copyright Belongs To The Original Publisher

Unless Otherwise Specified ©

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

Space Wanderer

I had a dream the other night, and in it I found myself wandering and drifting throughout the cosmos with two of the most beautiful unnamed women I’ve ever met in my life. I should be happy, it’s everything I could ever ask for and yet, I can’t help but think if this is worth my time? I glance out to the giant blue planet where I cultivated some of my best friendships and relationships and feel empty inside knowing that I left it all behind. Was it out of obligation or perhaps fear? Maybe a bit of both with a side of social pressure on top of it? Definitely the last one. It’s funny, I always considered myself the most mature one of the lot but I feel like my inner voice is giving me conflicting thoughts. I want to be independent but I don’t want that to come at the cost of sacrificing all that I care about. I’ve invested so much time in my relationships because I know that is what I care about the most. I don’t want to be driven by the sensual pleasures of life as my means to get out of bed on a daily basis. I was initially so happy I was given the chance to be welcomed aboard the ship but is it wrong to feel that my calling lies somewhere else? I don’t want to disappoint those that care and I don’t want to disappoint myself yet it feels like I’m in a war. A war that has my heart in pain. I can no longer see the sun anymore, only the faint planets in the distance. It’s funny because aside from the money I loved my old gig, it provided me some of the most comforting mental stability around. I love earth, yet it feels like at times it doesn’t want me to be there. I hate the idea that I feel like I need to chase happiness by seeking out new planets. It just, doesn’t seem right. I love what I had, and I love it so dearly… “You alright there?” Said both of the ladies simultaneously. I stayed silent as I continued to pilot the spaceship.

Heart Break

A powerful wave of anxiety has crept up on my aching heart. It twists and consumes me and I can’t help but wonder why? Have I done something wrong to upset the cosmic gods? I must have angered some divine being. Or perhaps I was destined to have hateful and ignorant people in my life. I hate my… well you can fill in the rest. I thought there was someone I looked up to many moons ago but I can see now that I was more naive than them. I think the real issue is the toxic masculinity stigma that is so prevalent within them. I can’t sympathize with someone who claims they care but when push comes to shove they really don’t. We needed them but you could tell, you could just tell it was by mere obligation rather than a desire to help. How would you feel if you tried to open up to someone, going so far as to say you’re on the verge of hanging yourself, and then have them completely dismiss your feelings and thoughts? Don’t you dare tell me to not express my thoughts and feelings. Don’t you dare consider being condescending while I’m trying to talk to you about our situation. This same situation that “we” are living through not you. Don’t censor me. Don’t preach to me about compassion when you yourself clearly lack it. Don’t tell me I’m not a man because I don’t agree with your twisted world view. Don’t try to tell me I don’t matter because you lack any sense of self-worth. Don’t try to change me. You are not my parent and you never were. I can not sleep. My insomnia, stress and anxiety are starting to get the best of me and I simply can’t handle it. I need help. I’ve needed help for 25 years. Right now I am clutching my heart in pain as my left arm convulses. I am having a heart attack.

Complacency

There was once a world covered in the veil of night, where people used to roam free for eons. Now we have become complacent with our lives, we have become one with being indoors. I can’t stand it. People should be free. We shouldn’t be incentivized to spend more time in isolation, in comfort, in shallow entertainment. We are better than this. We have proven our worth time and time again that we are creatures capable of evolving, of creating. Yet here we are, actively destroying any semblance of progress we have by being complacent with apathy. Am I angry at this? Truth be told I fall victim to these habits too. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset with myself with my own complacency. How does this happen really? Is it simply just growing accustomed to not being lazy? Or perhaps it is insecurity and unwillingness to try something new? Why would someone be scared to try something new? Don’t people naturally try to see out positive new experiences rather than clinging stubbornly to older ones with a negative stigma attached to them? I hate that I will never know. I hate that we fall victim to this. But above all else, I hate complacency.

The Arena

The Arena calls to me. I can feel my body sweat with nerves as I consider what my best options are against my opponent. Do I go for a quick jab to try and throw him off? How about a lightning fast sweep to knock him off his feet? No that would be too easy. I need to think about what HE would do rather than what my offense should be. I need to anticipate whether he’ll try to rush me down and pressure me into the corner. I need to figure out what to do when pushed out of my comfort zone. Do I keep blocking and pray that he’ll let up? Perhaps try to find a moment in between where I can deliver a fatal blow? That could put me in even more risk though and with how many hits I’ve already taken I don’t think I can afford that unless I’m 100 percent sure. The time grows steadily shorter as the looming presence draws closer to my being. I wait and hesitate. The ominous shadow looms toward me. It strikes me, my life slowly drains. “I WON’T let you defeat me!” I scream out. As I stand up and slowly get back to my feet I notice the inky shadow lunge toward me. I wait… and time itself comes to a momentary standstill. Everything is frozen, I can see it’s visage in front of me. It’s me, and everything I hate about myself. My shoulders tense and I channel all of my strength into the most violent uppercut of them all. I screamed the loudest scream I’ve ever screamed in my life as the ominous shadow absorbs into my body. As my vision faded I could hear the announcer scream about my victory of conquering my opponent, “Ion De Press”.

Thank You

It’s funny, valentine’s day used to make me feel pretty sad. I would think about how so many people have it much better than me in their interpersonal relationships. I always thought that “wow they must be so lucky to have someone care about them.” I’ve had my heart broken by people I thought I could trust and it hurt. I closed myself off to others and it was so scary. I was caught in that negative thought pattern for so many years, but this past year has made me realize how fortunate and lucky that I really am. I’ve been able to meet so many people who have been incredibly supportive and helpful on this journey. The most important person I’ve met, however, is you! You’ve been supporting me from the very start since I started taking up my new career and have given me so much.

Happiness, motivation, and a reason to get out of bed and be my very best. These are all the wonderful things that you provide. You give me your time, your positive energy and have made my life and others better just by being you! It’s the little things that I appreciate the most, like when you check up on me after not being on for a while, it tells me that you care and it makes my heart warm up. It’s the little things like when we watch each other play games and laugh at all the silly moments and make our own little jokes that only we get that make me appreciate our humor. And yes, I’m still laughing and blushing that someone considers me sexy! Your kindness is a warm blanket that consoles me when I really need it. Whenever I have a stressful day and talk with you I feel at peace. I am at peace knowing that there is a human being out there who’s as kind, charismatic and as caring as you. I am at peace knowing that I have met one of the coolest and nicest ladies in my life.

This journey has been a long one and I can’t help but express how grateful I am that you have had my back since the very start. My life has been changed for the better after meeting you. I’m convinced that if me pursuing this path has brought me anything to be grateful for, it’s that I’m just so_so genuinely happy and blessed to have met you.

Lisa The Painful Editorial

Lisa: Apocalypse Economics 101

Lisa might just be one of the most bizarre role-playing games I’ve ever played. It’s rare to find a game in this genre that approaches its’ story and gameplay mechanics and completely making the player rethink basic concepts like currency, party members, and in-game items as well. These three aspects tie into this sort of twisted economy, and if you want to make it to the end you’ll need to become an entrepreneur of the apocalypse.

Magazines as money?

The key to becoming a world-class entrepreneur is to first understand what you’re dealing with regarding currency. The apocalypse has no need for simple paper money, and for good reason too, it doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s important to keep in mind that the world within Lisa is a world without women, well there is technically one woman and you as a player are trying to rescue her. With this in mind, the currency within this world happens to be adult magazines rather than paper money. My initial first impression of this was bewilderment followed by immediate laughter at the absurdity of the idea. It clearly made sense from both a gameplay and plot perspective but the more I thought about it the more horrifying it became. As if learning of some Eldritch truth, I realized this might actually be some sort of social commentary the developer may have been trying to get across. Money is considered something neutral by nature, it has no implied meaning on its own. With magazines representing money, we see that it quite literally represents lust in its most explicit manner. It’s understandable within the context of the game because we are dealing with the fall of society, but it echoes back to the real world in a rather uncomfortable manner. The game objectifies women by showing their only portrayal within the game as a physical object and it shows an unhealthy standard. We however still do this to some degree within certain industries by imposing some sort of model standard that women are expected to achieve. Maybe I’m looking a bit too into this earthbound inspired RPG but I do think it’s hard to ignore this unusual type of currency after playing the game for so long.

Disposable party members and you

Now that we know the backstory of our currency, how do we find a way to practically use this to save the last woman within Lisa? Simply put we can buy some party members to aid us in our quest. Not everyone, however, needs to be properly compensated for their services, some just happen to tag along. A customizable party isn’t really treading new ground when it comes to gameplay, but what Lisa does differently is that there is perma-death for your compatriots. Imagine doing the self-imposed nuzlocke challenge from pokemon as the main gameplay gimmick and you basically have a fiendishly difficult RPG. What’s cool is that the game plays with that concept pretty nicely. Your teammates are only instakilled in battle by these horrendous looking mutants that you encounter every now and again. All of them possess an attack that involves biting off your teammates head (gruesome is putting it lightly). You’ve also got to worry about something as simple as resting. Here your party members can either depart permanently by their own volition, or they can be kidnapped. In the event that they are kidnapped, you’re usually presented with some sort of moral dilemma. Do I pay the bulk of my magazines to bring them back, or were they pretty weak to begin with and not worth my time? After a point I found myself shudder when I thought of this because these aren’t virtual monsters you’re working with, they’re humans. It’s unusual to even consider this line of reasoning but Lisa incorporates it rather well with its’ hard-hitting moral choices. There are times in the game where you need to decide whose well-being is more important, yours or your friends? By the game’s standards I was considered selfish because I chose to invest in the one constant in my party rather than be altruistic and help the other teammates. I paid the price for it eventually too. The has over 20 plus playable characters, and because of my mistakes, there was a long portion of the game where it was just me exploring the apocalyptic wasteland. If there were ever a feeling of genuine loneliness and isolation to be felt within a video game, it would have been right there. In my tunnel vision to save the last woman on earth I realized at some point I would have to go at it alone.

Joy: invest in yourself

I thought at some point, “going alone might not be so bad right? I’ve just gotta pull out all the stops, but more importantly, I’ll have to use something I was hoping I wouldn’t have to.” Throughout Lisa, we learn about our main characters addiction to this pill known as “Joy”. It’s an experimental drug that is known to make its user feel nothing, however, it comes at a cost. The mutants I mentioned earlier happened to be people who transformed because of their addiction to the drug. Joy has more than just a plot purpose, it is actually an in-game item you can use as well if you choose to do so. Perhaps it’s because of my selfishness toward my party members, but at some point in the game, I felt as if I had no choice but to submit to Joy. It was a strange process, it gave me guaranteed critical hits in battle but it also made the withdrawal my character had much worse. When I wasn’t using Joy I would consistently be hitting 0’s in battle, making the turns where I wasn’t Joyed up much less effective. It is not necessary to use these to beat the game, in fact, you’re even punished for it. If you ever take Joy, then it locks you out of a bonus epilogue cutscene in addition to the harmful effects in game. It is actually to your benefit to sell Joy as well, as it gives you the most magazines compared to other items. Similar to how I was terrified whenever I fought the mutants, I was scared of what I was turning my character into and how it reflected my thoughts as well. My desperation felt tangible as I trudged closer and closer toward the end of my journey. In the end, I did save the last woman on earth, but similar to the protagonist’s thoughts I also asked myself, “Did I do the right thing?”