Speed running of Video Games
I was an avid PC gamer in the 1990’s drifting away in the early 2000’s as life got complex. Like clockwork, every 18 months or so, I would build a new computer as new CPU’s, Graphics cards, and memory options would evolve and to remain competitive, you had to keep up to date.
To be honest, this era sucked. No, not the games. They were awesome. But it was the constant churn in the graphics boards. But that is a topic for another post.
Around this time, when the internet became a “thing” a new phenomenon started. I speak of the “speed run” of games. Speed running is the concept of a player finishing the game in as short of a time as possible. Tricks, tips, and while no cheating was required, success at the highest level usually required the players to find quirks of the game, glitches to you and me, and exploit them. All to get to the end as quickly as possible.
My first experience with this was with the game Quake from ID Software. Released in 1996, I spent way too many hours playing this game. I got good enough to complete the game on the medium skill level. I learned all the secrets. I still enjoy that game (haven’t had a system in a long time that could play it, I think I will need to get a PC just for this) even though I haven’t played in well over a decade (nostalgia warning).
My first knowledge of speed running was something that was circulating the community called “Quake done Quick”. It was a recorded movie (back in these days, it wasn’t a MP4, or MOV file, but a recorded game (much smaller, more easily shared via dial up internet), and you ran it with the actual game. It showed the player in the third person, so you could see the space marine running all over the place.
In like 18 minutes, at the Nightmare difficulty, the movie showcased a single run, start to finish.
It was mesmerizing. Watching the video, seeing all the tricks, things I never would have thought of trying, was tres cool.
But I wasn’t hooked. I knew that it was a) beyond my skill, and b) not really interesting to me.
I had assumed that this was a small sub-genre.
I was mistaken.
Recently, I have discovered the community of speed running on Youtube. The first episode I watched was an 18 minute video by Karl Jobst, an Australian who is entrenched in the world of speed running.
The video breaks down the first level of episode 1 of the original Doom. In 1998, the record was 9 seconds in Ultra Violence level. In 2020, that record was finally bested, with an 8 second run.
What I didn't understand at the time, was the amount of time invested to gain the skills, the muscle memory, the automatic reactions was huge, and submerged. I am not learning of the literally thousands of hours required to master the game.
While I am not likely to take this up as a hobby, it is enchanting to watch.
If you want a master class, check out Karl Jobst's Youtube channel.
Lastly, to watch some amazing action, watch this...