Is Speedrunning a Part of Esports Culture? Does it Even Matter?

      Speedrunning, as many of you may already know, is the act of playing through a video game with the intent of completing a goal as quickly as possible. Speedruns often use a compilation of player-found glitches, tricks, and secrets in order to achieve these goals. The most common goals for speedruns are one hundred percent and any percent completions, but there are sometimes very specific goals that can come into play for some runs that allow for a different experience for the runner and the audience watching the run. Did I just say audience? Yes. Speedrunning is so entertaining that it is able to generate large audiences on websites such as YouTube and Twitch. There are even live events that occur throughout the year to celebrate speedrunning, with the most popular being the Games Done Quick events. These are bi-annual charity gaming marathons in which speedrunners play games at incredible speeds for entertainment. The events are streamed live on Twitch and all donations go towards the charity Doctors Without Borders.

      So speedrunning is generating an audience sort of like how Esports generates an audience. However, is speedrunning its own separate entity or does it belong to the larger Esports culture? This can be a matter of personal opinion, but I had the opportunity to ask an avid speedrunner Kyle Burnette, also known as FullGrownGaming, about his thoughts on the matter. “I consider speedrunning to be separate from Esports. While competition is certainly a very high priority for many speedrunners, a very large portion of the community don’t even do runs. There are people that hunt for glitches and strats, make comparison videos, and other tangential things that make actually running the game possible. On top of that, many runners do not really invest in the competitive nature of speedrunning whatsoever.” Kyle has been speedrunning Nintendo’s classic title, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, for almost three years now and since he joined the speedrunning community in early 2012, he says there has been constant growing interest. “I have seen massive growth in channels that I follow and coverage of speedrunning in general. When I first started, the first response you’d generally see to anything related to glitching was ‘that’s cheating’ or ‘play the game legitimately.’ While that sentiment certainly still exists, it seems to have died down from those earlier days, at least to me.”

      I asked Kyle to explain a little bit about what the Games Done Quick events are all about, as he had just participated in the Summer Games Done Quick last week. “The GDQ events are primarily about raising money for charity. However, they are more than that. Whether you are actually present at the events or just watching online, the GDQ events are a mecca of sorts for the speedrunning community. They are a way to show off what the speedrunning community has come up with in the months between the events. On a very personal note, I can say that the GDQ events have changed my life entirely. At AGDQ 2016, I met a girl and fell in love. Now I’m moving to Canada next year to be with her. While this clearly does not happen to everyone, the GDQ events are particularly important to me.”

      Now that I think about it, it really does not matter whether you consider speedrunning to be a part of the Esports culture or not. The important thing is that speedrunning is a thriving community that is generating entertainment and culture for a large group of people in the grander gaming community. It is similar to when people were criticizing Esports for not being a “real sport”, when it really did not matter because Esports was doing well for itself whether that was true or not. So whether speedrunning for a world record time is competitive enough to consider it a part of Esports or not, it is still a part of the larger video game culture and we should help it grow even further because by doing so we are only helping our culture grow.

Written by Dylan Didiano

Edited by Williaf

Kyle Burnette’s Twitter Account: @FullGrownGaming

Featured Image provided by Gamesradar

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