Speedrunning: A Noob’s Analysis of the Very Exciting World of Gaming Excellence
There is no doubt the world of E-Sports is on the rise in an exponential fashion. The streaming site “Twitch” has become a household name in the gaming world allowing for players of all skill levels to showcase their gaming talents. Skilled players are always finding ways to make new and classic games more interesting. My favorite, by far has to be speed running which tests a myriad of skills and techniques in a very short amount of time. The following is how I stumbled into my speed-running fandom and why I would highly recommend you do so yourself.
What is Speed Running?
As the name somewhat conveys, Speed running is playing through an entire video-game as quickly as possible. Games that are designed to take the casual player weeks or months can be completed in one short stint by the avid runner. In doing so the runner must have extreme knowledge of every corner and curve of the game in order to maximize the most efficient route. Speed runners from all over the world compete for the top prize of the world record, which can be achieved in a number of different categories for each game.
As any gamer could tell you, there are a number of ways to beat a video-game. Older games often have glitches that can make completing the game much quicker. For the sanctity of the sport, these glitches and techniques are separated into categories and are restricted or enabled based on the category chosen. Some examples of categories include but are not limited to:
Glitch-less– Where the game must be completed without the utilization of glitches
Any %– Where most glitches, if not all are in play forcing the runner to master their intricacies. An example would be if there was a hole in the map that teleported you to the end of the level.
All Bosses– Pretty self explanatory
100%- Completing the entire game, including missions/tasks not pivotal to the advancement of the story.
I was first introduced to the art of Speed Running by a classmate, and good friend, who streams under the name Ch0msky (subscribe on Twitch). His favorite game growing up was Paper Mario for the N64 and he was in the midst of trying to beat the game in under 4 hours. After watching a few streams (OK more than a few) I picked up on some of the minutiae that differentiates a good runner form a great one.
For starters, Ch0msky owned a copy of the Japanese version of the game. Japanese text takes up less space than English thus allowing for players to skip through text faster. (Yes it makes a difference)
Easily the most important aspect of a run is the choice of strategy. Risky strats can save a lot of time but pose a greater chance of failure. Inversely, the safer strats take a bit longer. Most, if not all, of the world record speed runs invoke heavy use of risky strats.
A term that drives every speed runner crazy is known as Random Number Generation (RNG). RNG is the massive number of events within a game that randomly occur such as the chance of a move failing, or the likelihood that an enemy uses a certain attack. Speed runners are often at the mercy of RNG as it can derail an entire run in an instant. Paper Mario, for example, has a pivotal speed running item called Speedy Spin that drastically enhances Mario’s movement throughout the rest of the game once acquired. The issue arises when the vendor (pictured above) of this item does not display speedy spin, forcing the runner to waste time resetting the RNG. The perfect run involves near-perfect RNG in order to save the maximum amount of time.
As one could imagine, runners will do just about anything to save a few precious seconds. This involves forfeiting some of the things casual gamers take for granted such as pausing the game or saving.
Once the game is completed, the top runners may find themselves on the speed running leaderboards cementing their place as one of the top players in the category. Below is a small taste of what a leaderboard looks like. As you can see Ch0msky is sneaking up on that world record in the glitchless category.
Paper Mario is one of MANY games that are competitively run and tuning in is a must for even the most casual fan like myself. Watching a speed run will forever change the way you look at a game and it brings a whole new aspect to gaming as a whole.
If this article sparks your interest check out Ch0msky’s Twitch channel.