Games Done Quick is a charity event brought to you by the Speed Demos Archive that consists of two week-long speedrunning marathons each year. The first, Awesome Games Done Quick, is a winter marathon that donates to the Prevent Cancer Foundation
and was the original marathon that started it all. Eventually a summer marathon, the aptly named Summer Games Done Quick, was started up to raise funds for Médecins Sans Frontières
known in English as Doctors Without Borders. Both marathons are roughly equal in popularity, and together they raise about $2.5 million a year for charity. There is also a sister event, Pinball Done Quick, that normally runs concurrently with both GDQ marathons for those interested in pinball.
Over the past few years, GDQ has grown rapidly. It was in 2014 that the first marathon hit a million dollars, and a year later the first summer marathon would also hit that mark. In 2017, AGDQ reached the 2 million milestone. Now both marathons raise roughly the same amount, totaling to roughly three million a year for charity causes. As of this writing, Games Done Quick has raised over $10,000,000 for charity. In 2016 a new series debuted, called GDQ Hotfix
, that consists of smaller community events such as race tournaments, special runs, and more! All proceeds go towards charity, and offer another way to get your GDQ fix throughout the year. There is no formal schedule for Hotfix, so follow the official Twitch channel
and check in from time to time to see if anything is happening.
This thread in particular is for discussion of the marathon, but during the "off season" (aka the other 50 weeks of the year) feel free to use this place to discuss other speedrunning events going on, or just speedrunning in general.
Below is this list of stream available when a marathon is live. If anything changes, they'll be updated as needed.
Official Twitch Channel
Pinball Done Quick
You're inevitably going to miss a run, but all runs are archived at the GDQ YouTube Channel
. Note that while uploads are pretty quick (about 12 hours after the run was finished) initial uploads can sometimes be of iffy quality since tech people are still running the marathon. Normally a second batch of runs are uploaded a week or two after the marathon has ended, which tend to fix most issues. If you are super impatient, you can check out the Speedrunning Reddit
that is fairly quick at collecting Twitch VODs in one post. Also, please note that the GDQ YouTube channel only goes back a few years, and the older marathons are archived at the old SDA Channel
. If you want footage from some of the earliest marathons (and special marathons like the Spooktacular), then you're going to have to search YouTube and pray someone uploaded it. Some runs have simply been lost to time.
Check under the spoiler for recommendations!
Check back after the marathon!
The easiest way to donate is to head over to their main site
and hit the big donate button. You can leave a comment, but be aware that it is highly unlikely to be read on air unless A] You know the runner personally or B] you donated a truckload of money at once. You may wish to hold off on donating, however, until a certain time in the marathon. Prizes are raffled throughout the marathon, and to enter a particular raffle you must donate during a specific portion of the marathon. For example, some Mario merchandise may be raffled to anyone who donates while a particular Mario game is being run, or some Sonic swag may be raffled during a block of multiple Sonic runs. Check out the main site for a list of the prizes and when they are raffled, and the stream itself will offer regular reminders about upcoming prizes being offered. Regardless of when you donate, there is a "grand prize" that is selected from all donations throughout the marathon that are above a certain amount.
One other thing about donate: bid war and incentives. Some games have inconsequential decisions that the marathon leaves up to you, the audience. Be it what to name characters in an RPG, or what outfit to dress a character in, they offer fun ways to liven up the proceedings and get some extra money in the process. Incentives are a bit meatier, as they actually result in more marathon content when met. This can be things such as increasing the difficulty of an upcoming run, getting a bonus run of the same game, or having a totally new run squeezed into the schedule. You get to decide where you money goes when donating (and it doesn't affect the aforementioned prize raffles), so consider checking out what's available when you donate. It's totally optional, but is a lot of fun for some people.
There are other ways to contribute!
- The Yetee: every year, a selection of shirts are made available only during the week of the marathon. All profits from sales of these shirts go to GDQ!
- Twitch Subscription: Money from Twitch Subscriptions to the GDQ channel go to the total.
- Fangamer: Various merchandise for the event, a portion of sales going to charity!
If any alternative ways to donate pop up, they'll be added to the list.
Can't afford to donate? Then you may consider submitting the aforementioned prizes that are raffled away during the marathon. This can include games, relevant merchandise, and even homemade crafts so long as the quality is high enough. You can check out the guidelines for submitting prizes over here
. You can also help out by just spreading the good word of going fast, and mentioning GDQ on social media or wherever while a marathon is going on. Hit up the Twitter account
to find banners, hashtags, and whatever kids these days are using to advertise.
You can attend a GDQ marathon in three ways: as an attendee, a volunteer, or a runner. The main site covers how to sign up for these various roles, so I'll mostly describe what each entails.
Attendees go to GDQ like you would a small convention or other game-related event. These events are far too crowded to let you get even close to the TV the game is being run on, so you'll be relegated to watching runs on a large projection. If you are really into speedrunning, this may be up your alley: you get to meet some of the biggest names in the community, enjoy really exciting moments in person, and just chill in general with like-minded people for a week or however long you stay. On the downside, it's not like a traditional convention, as runs can happen at any time of day, which may not work out so hot for you if that obscure RPG you love gets run at 4 in the morning. It also runs for a week in the middle of January, so you will either have to take additional time off work or just hope the good runs are happening on the weekend. I also question how long a speedrunning marathon can hold your interest for a few days, much less a week, but that's a subjective thing. More details on attending can be found here
Volunteers help run the show. This is a lot of work, and you will be assisting with setting up TVs and consoles, breaking stuff down, reading donations, helping attendees, and so forth. This is a charity, so while you won't have pay for registration, you will have to pay for travel and other accommodations. You're also working as this is a job and not a vacation, so keep that mentality when deciding if you want to volunteer. Details on volunteering tend to be on the GDQ forums, so head over there if this sounds like something you'd be interested in.
Finally, the stars of the show: the runners. Obviously the process to be selected for running a game at the marathon is way more demanding, and your odds of getting in are slim. How slim? For AGDQ 2017, over 1500 hours of submissions were declined
. That's only 12% of submitted hours actually making it into the marathon. I'm not entirely sure what helps get you in, like maybe a YouTube/Twitch channel to show you can handle being in the public eye? There's no guarantee, however. Even GDQ superstars get their submissions declined. Also, keep in mind that runners are volunteers
. You're not playing video games for money, and you're most likely going to do a lot of practicing and traveling just to spend an hour playing one game. There is always the chance of attracting people to your fledgling Twitch channel if you really hit a chord with people, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Do it for charity, and not dreams of internet superstardom. You can find a fairly detailed guide on submitting runs over here
Like any community, a certain amount of jargon gets kicked around during marathons. This section includes lingo for both speedrunning and GDQ marathons. Check out below for any terms you may not understand.
100% - completing a run while grabbing every item, collectible, etc. The definition of 100% varies from game-to-game, although it's usually deign by in-game stuff such as the game's percent complete, unlocking the best/true endings, etc.
any% - completing a run as fast as possible. The only thing that matters is speed, although some games have "warpless" or "glitchless" Any% runs to keep things interesting.
Awful Block - Happening during the winter marathons, this is a block of games typically run one late night during the marathon. It's a series of runs of truly bad/weird games, where the emphasis is less on speedrunning and more showcasing hilariously bad games. It's not uncommon for awful block runs to fail because the game has a tendency to lock up or crash.
bonus stream - during older marathons, this was a period after the event where runners would do random runs, play Smash money matches, or even competitive games like Yoshi's Cookie. These would sometimes last a while, like a week of more after the original marathon had ended. As the marathons grew larger, however, the logistics made bonus streams more difficult to manage. They would grow shorter and shorter until they were officially ended in 2015.
damage boosting - taking advantage of the brief invincibility that most games have after you take damage to bypass certain areas quickly. Sometimes the knockback from taking damage is also useful in accessing areas.
estimate - The maximum amount of time a runner believes their run will take at the marathon. Estimates are typically a below-average time that gives the schedule a bit of a cushion in case the runner has lousy luck and goes long. Some estimates are more reflective of consistency, and may be tighter because the runner feels they can routinely finish in that time. Failing to finish within in an estimate is something of a mark of shame for a runner. Typically runners are allowed to continue past the estimate, but at a certain point the run can be "mercy killed" and ended prematurely to keep the marathon on schedule.
frames - refers to frames of animation. Tends to be a fancy way of saying "portions of a second" as games tend to animate at 30 or 60 frames per second. So in a 60 fps game, a "frame perfect" technique means you only have 1/60th of a second in which to pull it off. There's also terms like "I-frames" which refers to "invulnerability frames" during which your character (or sometimes an enemy) cannot be hurt.
IL - Individual Level. These means a run of just a specific part of the game, which means when something goes wrong there's less to lose because restarting is less painful. As a result, runners tend to use riskier strategies and tricks since flubbing them means you just go back to the beginning of that stage instead of having to start the whole run over.
low% - the opposite of 100%: completing the game while grabbing only the bare minimum of items necessary to finish.
marathon luck - normally invoked with some sarcasm, but basically odd flukes of (usually bad) luck that only seem to happen when you are streaming in front of an audience of tens of thousands. Usually followed by statements of "this didn't happen in practice"
manipulation - doing a particular set of actions to manipulate a quirk or portion of the game's code. One example is item drops in the original Legend of Zelda, where a runner will kill a specific enemy after killing an equally specific number of enemies because it is guaranteed to result in a bomb dropping.
mercy kill - to end a run before it is complete. This is a rare occurrence for when a run goes well beyond the estimate, and is done so that the marathon stays on schedule.
OOB - Out of Bounds. To leave the intended playable areas of the game, which can allow the player to skip large chunks of the game. Some games have No-OOB categories because, in many cases, you can go out of bounds so much you're not really playing the game anymore.
PB - Personal Best, the fastest run a particular person has done for that category. During something like GDQ, a runner tends to use their personal best as a metric to judge how well they did for their run at the marathon.
race - Multiple players do independent runs at the same time to see who finishes first. The quality of these can run hot or cold, as sometimes one person takes a lead and dominates whereas others they get very neck and neck. Races can lead to exciting moments not see in normal runs, as a trailing player may be encouraged to do high-risk, high-reward strats in order to catch up.
RTA - Real-Time Attack. Basically the opposite of a TAS, where you do the run in real-time and have to rely on your own weak human reflexes. Also refers to using an actual timer instead of relying on any in-game timers.
safety strats - (aka "marathon strats") doing something that slows you down, but will save you a considerable amount of time if you mess up a particularly difficult upcoming section, such as grabbing extra health or taking time to hit a checkpoint
sequence break - Performing a trick or exploiting a bug so that you do an unintended skip over large chunks of the game, or go through segments of the game as unintended by the designers. For an extreme example, using a glitch in Ocarina of Time to jump straight to the Ganon fight.
TAS - Tool-Assisted Speedrun, in which the runner uses an emulator when running the game. Normally involves having the game play at very slow speeds, sometimes frame-by-frame so certain strategies can be pulled off that would be impossible or extremely difficult with normal human reflexes. Obviously very dull to watch live, but there is a usually short segment during the marathon to show some recordings of neat TAS stuff.
WR - World Record, the fastest time known for that category. Extremely uncommon during a marathon, as you don't tend to play the game near perfectly in one run. Still, every marathon tends to have one or two WRs occur, typically in more niche or less popular games.
X% - some games have special runs that have been found fun to run. This can involve grabbing all of a specific item that may not count towards 100%, playing as certain characters, or restrictions regarding glitches.
zip - causing your character to fly through a stage or segment. Usually done by trying to squeeze your character into the stage itself (like a block or the ground) so they get stuck and the game forces them out by warping you at high speeds. Tends to be rather tricky to pull off.