How can being very good at video games help fund cancer research or doctors in the developing world? The answer is Games Done Quick, a semiannual event where video game speedrunners beat famous games to raise money for charity. Since its inception in 2010, Games Done Quick has raised millions for charities like Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders.
So, how does that work? The Games Done Quick Events are essentially a telethon. Speedrunners (gamers who can beat games far quicker than they were meant to be finished, typically without suffering setbacks) beat some of their favorite games while viewers make donations. The gamers will usually be joined by friends to explain the glitches, strategies and tricks they use to win so quickly and just generally joke around. The whole affair lasts for seven uninterrupted days and is streamed live on the video game streaming site Twitch.
Runners, as they’re known, might set out to do something simple like just beating the game or they’ll go for something wilder. Past Games Done Quick events have featured runners trying to collect every item in a game, playing two games at once, racing against other runners or even playing games blindfolded! There’s also a fun tradition of runners arranging an “awful block” featuring some of the worst games of all time like the infamous E.T. for the Atari and the amazingly titled bootleg game Donkey Kong 5: The Journey of Over Time and Space.
The 2018 edition of Summer Games Done Quick kicked off yesterday. with a run of the 2000 Nintendo 64 classic Banjo-Tooie and continues until late Saturday night. The stream can be watched here on Twitch and the 2018 SGDQ schedule can be found here. This week will see runs of favorites like Super Mario Bros., Tomb Raider, The Simpsons: Hit & Run and Cuphead; as well as a simultaneous run of both the Red and Yellow versions of Pokémon.
As a bit of a taste, here’s one of my favorite runs, runner zallard1 at January’s Awesome Games Done Quick simultaneously playing both the 1987 NES game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! and its 1994 SNES sequel Super Punch-Out!!