Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 has commenced, and will run for over the next week (7th – 14th January). Expect another great event filled with both retro and modern games, sequence breaks and plenty of glitches. Watch it here on Twitch, and check the schedule here to see when your favourite game might be in the spotlight.

If you’re unsure as to what Awesome Games Done Quick actually is, then read ahead for a quick briefing on the fastest week in videogames!

What is it?

Awesome Games Done Quick (or AGDQ as it is known) is an annual charity gaming marathon, streamed on Twitch. Each year, a group of the best speed-runners from around the world coalesce to complete a horde of games as quickly as possible. From retro classics such as Ultima VI, to contemporary masterpieces such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, expect all kinds of games to be beaten in record times.

It’s all in good spirit too. Throughout the event, viewers are encouraged to donate to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, with incentives such as Bonus Runs and Easter Egg showcases. Last year’s event raised over £1.6 million for the charity over the week.

Awesome Games Done Quick Ape Escape

The Twitch-stream is usually very popular, with both ADGQ and its summer companion marathon, Summer Games Done Quick, consistently being the most watched on the platform. Since its inception in 2011, the event has increased in size exponentially, and is now a (mostly) polished and professional charity marathon to rival even Children in Need.

Unsure as to what speed-running actually is? Not to worry, I’ve got your back:

What is speed-running?

Speed-running is the practice of playing a videogame as quickly as possible. This can stretch from finishing all Mario Kart 64 tournaments in 30 minutes, to completing the entirety of Final Fantasy VII in a single 8-hour sitting.

It can be exhilarating stuff, watching as a gamer completely breaks one of your favourite titles. They will skip levels, annihilate bosses in seconds, and very often clip out-of-bounds of the game world itself. Helpfully, all the runners at AGDQ commentate their gameplay too, so you can at least have some semblance of what is happening.

Awesome Games Done Quick MArio Kart

Speed-runners are known for their obsessive compulsion when playing these games. Many will limit themselves to playing a single game for months at a time, in order to optimise their own play. They will replay levels over and over again, in an attempt to shave mere seconds off of their completion time. They’re a dedicated bunch.

Fascinatingly, in many ‘runs’ there are often no restrictions in how to play. As such, many runners will utilise various glitches and bugs within the software itself, in order to obtain a faster time. One very famous glitch, for example, means that players have been able to complete Mario 64 in less than 7 minutes.

Highlights from previous years:

Since the first ever Classic Games done Quick, there have been a number of amazing runs performed. Here’s a list of some highlights, in case you want to catch up:

Tetris: The Grandmaster

Tetris doesn’t seem like it is a game that can be ran as fast as possible – it’s usually on a strict timer after all. But the infamous Grandmaster editions of the game are insanely difficult, with only a handful of players having the dexterity and skill to be able to play the game at the highest level.

The most astonishing part of this run, is actually once the credits roll afterwards. I won’t spoil it for you, but be assured, you will be impressed. Watch below:

The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Blindfolded

Ocarina of Time is one of the most popular games in the speed-running community. However, this has meant that standard runs can be a bit too commonplace for many enthusiasts. What it did mean however, was that when Runnerguy2489 ran the first half of the game, completely blind and only relying on his hearing, we were blown away.

Super Mario Maker Race

When Super Mario Maker released for WiiU back in 2016, it became commonplace for the speed-running community to make – and run – some of the hardest Mario levels ever conceived. In this fantastic run from 2016, a group of the best Mario Maker runners split into two teams, running a relay race on some devilishly difficult levels. The kicker? All the levels are brand new and have never been seen before!

What to watch?

Many of the runs this upcoming year could easily reach the heights of previous years. In case you’re unsure of what to catch, here’s a few recommendations from yours truly.

(Note: Times are in GMT – check this link for your local times.)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Sunday January 7th at 10:28pm

Bethesda’s RPG’s have long been known for their fantastically broad open worlds, and inevitably buggy nature. Watch as runner Wall of Spain utilises these numerous bugs and glitches to complete this huge game in less than 50 minutes.

Sonic Mania – Monday January 8th at 8:34pm

Last years Sonic Mania release marked a return to form for the spiky blue hedgehog, reverting back to 2D-only speed-focused gameplay from which the series made its name. Despite only having practiced for less than a year, runner Ajarmar is attempting to complete the entire game in less than an hour. Gotta go fast, indeed.

Super Monkey Ball – Friday January 12th at 7:07pm

The Super Monkey Ball series may often make for a frustrating physics-based puzzler for the average player, but not for speedrunner Zela1. Watch as they break this game in the best way possible, completing many of the stages in just a few seconds. This entire run, through all of the Beginner, Advanced and Expert stages, will be over in less than 26 minutes.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Sunday January 14th at 5:59am

Last year’s Game of the Year has been a hotly contested speed running title within the community. As it stands, the current world record for its completion stands at just over 40 minutes. This run is slightly different however, as runner atz looks to complete all of the main quests in the game, in less than 4 hours. In comparison, I’ve put over 40 hours in to Nintendo’s masterpiece, and feel as though I haven’t even scratched the surface…

Awesome Games Done Quick Record

The Lingo

Whilst you’re watching the event, there might be a few things you don’t understand. Speed-running can be quite a niche and esoteric community at times, but don’t let that put you off!

Here’s a list of any jargon, plus a quick recap on its meaning:

Any% – This refers to the fastest completion of a game. It doesn’t matter how much of the game is completed, as long as the runner simply reaches the credits. This is in contract to the 100% Speedrun, in which players must complete every objective the games asks of them.

Sequence Break – Many runners will use glitches and bugs to skip certain part of the game. In titles such as Mario 64, this can often mean jumping right to the final boss of the game. This is known as a ‘sequence break’ as they literally break the traditional sequence of the game.

TaS – Tool-assisted Speedrun – Many runners will use software tool to help them run a game. A lot of these tools are able to play the game by themselves, and programmed to make split-second decisions perfectly.

Frame Perfect – Very often, the speed of frames at which a game runs, can dictate what actions can happen in the game itself. Certain glitches and skips may have windows of only 2 or 3 frames in which they can be performed. In order to pull off these skips, runners must be ‘frame perfect’.

This Looks Fun, How Can I Try It?

The best thing about speed-running, is that it is totally accessible! All you need is a copy of the game you want to run, and a dedicated attitude!

Check out the community over on r/Speedrunning for further tips. They have a fantastic beginners guide, as well as being a very friendly bunch who are sure to answer any questions you may have.

And that’s it from me; hopefully, this quick primer has given you the tools you need to enjoy the next week. It’s a fantastic event, that always raises a lot of money for charity, as well as shining the spotlight on some of our favourite games.

Try Something New:

Conor Clarke
Writer, researcher and performer based in Leeds, UK. Enjoys videogames almost as much as he does Live Art. Overthinks.

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