Awesome Games Done Quick 2017: Does Speedrunning Have a Place in Esports?

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Awesome Games Done Quick has transformed from a small, fairly unknown event, to the gaming industry’s leading charity event. It has attracted attention from industry giants, as well as the general gaming fan who peruses Twitch. It’s not only meant for Speed runners any longer, as the wide scope of the event has reached an entirely new level. But does it have a place in esports?

The event, if you’ve never heard of Games Done Quick, is centered around a week-long marathon where some of the most well-known and best speed runners of various games from around the world show up to show off their specific speed run. In the last three years, the event has completely exploded in popularity. The average number of viewers, attendees, and most importantly, donations, have sky rocketed in recent years.

I talked briefly to Mike Uyama, the creator of Games Done Quick, about the events history and future: “Our first marathon was Classic Games Done Quick in January 2010, which was inspired by The Speed Gamers. Long story short, the marathon ended up taking place in my mom’s basement and raised 11,000 dollars for international aid organization CARE,” said Uyama.

Since 2015, Games Done Quick has raised over $1 million in donations at each of the last four events (including Summer Games Done Quick). To put that into perspective, the NFL raises $3 million on average for charity. A niche community has nearly matched one of the worlds business juggernauts in the National Football League in terms of donation totals. That’s simply incredible and shows the power of speed running.

Speed running isn’t a new idea, people have been beating video games as fast as possible before the internet age.  It’s now just coming to light the sheer entertainment value of speed running. The skill and time dedicated to improving and optimizing these runs is incredible. Most of the top speed runners are often extremely talented gamers in general, and the skill sets transfer over to other aspects of gaming.

Here’s Dram55, one of the most talented speedrunners in the community, playing Joe And Mac 2 yesterday at AGDQ 2017:

Speed Running’s Place in Esports

Esports is a new, growing idea that’s just now starting to take on massive investors. It’s centered around competitive gaming and has formed an entirely new industry. Speed running started basically the same way as competitive gaming. It wasn’t started as a business venture, but to see if you were the best player at your favorite game.

Now, speed running, thanks to the invention of Twitch and Games Done Quick, has shown there’s plenty of interest in this niche hobby. Enough interest to the point where teams and investors might see the speed running community as a place to get exposure and make money. Runners like Mychal “TriHex” Jefferson, Clint Stevens, and Caleb Hart are just a few examples of players with massive online followings.

I don’t want to give the wrong idea here. The speed running community isn’t asking to be included in esports. Frankly, most speed runners could care less as that’s not the goal of speed running. But inherently, a community based around skill in video games and entertainment through someone else playing a game should probably be included in the esports side. It should be considered in the same vein as other competitive games.

“Speedrunning in five years might have tournaments, even more of it will be streamed, and maybe giant races will be broadcast.” Said Uyama

Speed Runs Live is a site that started as a platform to connect speed runners looking to race other speed runners. In this respect, Speed Runs Live applies directly to esports, and as Mike Uyama stated, races and tournaments could become a more prevalent part of the community. It’s unlikely the racing side becomes as popular as just the standard speed run, but it’s a sub-section of the speed running community that can’t be ignored.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2017 is currently taking place this week so make sure to watch and donate. As the industry grows, expect more emphasis to be placed on speed running. It’s an untapped market that has potential to grow. Its place in esports is unclear now, but the more research and eyes on the community will push future investors towards speed running.

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