At a hotel in Maryland, about 15 miles outside of Washington D.C., hundreds of gamers gather to play (and watch people play) over a hundred games as quickly as they can, back-to-back, at all hours of the day and night, for a week straight.
This is Awesome Games Done Quick, an annual speedrunning charity marathon that raises money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and on Tuesday night one of the best runs of the week happened: Sonic the Hedgehog run by Dr. Fatbody.
This run is a distillation of what makes speedrunning great — and it just so happens to be a game that’s all about going fast.
This original Sonic run has a charismatic commentator, cool glitches and tricks, and exudes positivity and a strong sense of community. Not only is it impressive to watch Dr. Fatbody complete the iconic 1991 game in just over 20 minutes, the whole segment is imbued with this infectiously warm, welcoming quality.
The way Games Done Quick speedruns usually work is one person plays the game while a group of fellow runners hangs out and talks about the game on the couch behind them.
For the Sonic the Hedgehog run, the couch is stacked with runners, including one who is video-calling in on a laptop, and Dr. Fatbody makes sure to shout all of them out and a handful of others who aren’t present.
Speedrunning is a hobby that’s built on passion
I’m not even a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog but I found myself enamored by the run. The hyper-precise tricks that send Sonic flying through walls and across levels got the crowd and viewers hyped, and shows off the kind of skills and intense practice it takes to master the art of speedrunning.
And while normally runners at marathons try to avoid taking risks, Dr. Fatbody threw caution to the wind and went for a whole bunch of difficult moves to add some extra style to the run and get every hyped up.
The most important part of what makes this speedrun so great is the balance between fun and respect. Dr. Fatbody is clearly a fun guy and is there to have to a good time, but he also clearly cares a lot about this game and its community.
Speedrunning is a hobby that’s built on passion. You can’t really become a decent speedrunner without dedicating hundreds, even thousands of hours to repeating the same game over and over. Speedrunners know their games inside and out, and you can only really do that without losing your mind unless it’s something you truly love.
Games Done Quick events, on top of raising millions of dollars for charities like the Prevent Cancer Foundation, are displays of intense passion, and when channeled through excellent runners, it can be infectious.
It’s a passion that inspires people to stay awake until 3 a.m. (or set their morning alarms for 3 a.m.) when they have work or school in the morning to see their favorite games get crushed by talented runners, or tune into a six-hour run of a Zelda game in Italian (because the dialogue is shortest in Italian) instead of doing literally anything else on a Thursday night.
There’s tons of runs worth watching at this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick, and still more to come, whether it’s to see a favorite game get played by some of the most talented individuals alive or just get caught up in whatever exciting run catches your eye.
And you might even be inspired to try a speedrun yourself.