Illustration by Hector Lizarraga, Staff Illustrator
Who ever said sitting around playing video games is a waste of time? Awesome Games Done Quick, a weeklong annual charity marathon hosted by the gaming website Speed Demo Archive, has raised over $1 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation in its fourth iteration, greatly surpassing the original goal of $500,000 and the $646,000 that was raised in the past three marathons combined, according to Gamasutra.
The concept of “spreedrunning” within video games is simple enough: start and finish playing through a particular video game in the shortest time possible. In most cases, speed running involves finding ways to bypass portions of the game altogether, exploiting aspects like glitches and bugs. Sometimes these glitches can be manipulated to the extent that it takes only a matter of minutes to finish the game—so to say that one is “playing through” the video game entirely is a bit misleading. Opponents argue that speed running detracts from the appeal of the game in that skipping over certain segments ruins the experience of playing and creates an inconsistent plot. Despite this, speed running continues to have a dedicated niche within the gaming community, as evidenced by the success of the Awesome Games Done Quick marathons.
Speed Demo Archive was founded by Nolan “Radix” Pflug in 1998, with a merger between two speed run websites for the 1996 game Quake, arguably one of the most popular speed running games, according to the SDA website. In 2003, Pflug began to expand the site to include more games, and the list continues to grow today with 955 games currently on the website’s list. While there are number of rules the SDA lays out for speed running, anyone can submit a speed run of a particular game that the website accepts. Videos of the best speed runs of each game are posted on the SDA website for anyone to view. The first speed run marathon for charity hosted by SDA was the Classic Games Done Quick in 2010, which raised $10,000 for CARE. Since then there have been nine marathons, with AGDQ 2014 being the most successful by a longshot.
Unlike Speed Demo Archives other marathons, the AGDQ marathon raises money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation specifically. Prevent Cancer Foundation Vice President Jan Bresch called the wildly successful 2014 AGDQ marathon “a dream come true” according to PRWeb.
“When the Prevent Cancer Foundation began its relationship with the Speed Demo Archives in 2010,” Bresch said, “we knew how dedicated the volunteers and donors were to the marathon were, but we never imagined this event would raise $1 million to save lives.” To put things in perspective, when AGDQ first began in 2011, it raised $53,000, according to Gaming Illustrated. No one could have expected in just three years that number would jump to over $1 million.
Why was this year’s marathon so much more successful? Quite simply, more people got involved. PRWeb reports that this year, 500 people from around the world competed, and hundreds of thousands more got involved by tuning into the live stream and donating to win prizes. Several new records were broken as well, including some big name games old and new, like “Halo 2,” “Super Mario 64,” and “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” No doubt that speed running remains somewhat of a novelty, even in the video gaming world, but raising money but for a good cause while doing what you love is something that everyone can agree on, gamers and non-gamers alike.