NMG, glitchless and Any% galore — it’s not gibberish, it’s the categories for the various events at Awesome Games Done Quick 2022. The weeklong speedrunning charity event was a triumph for both the speedrunning community and cancer researchers, bringing in more donations than anyone could have anticipated.
For those new to the scene, the term speedrunning refers to the act of playing a game with the intent of finishing it as quickly as possible.
Each year, charity fundraising organization Games Done Quick holds two events: Awesome Games Done Quick and Summer Games Done Quick. Both events are a nonstop, live showcase of speedruns to raise money for charity. Runners play games from every console generation at hyper-fast speed while commentators explain the tricks and glitches that make the extreme speeds possible, all while viewers and sponsors donate to charity. In between, runners are interviewed about their games, doctors speak about their cancer research and prizes are gifted to viewers willing to give money to the cause.
Typically held in person, this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick was entirely virtual. Although the runners and commentators remained at home, AGDQ was as thrilling as ever. In fact, it was the highest-grossing Games Done Quick event in the organization’s decade-long history.
A record-breaking $3.4 million was raised this year to fund the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s projects, such as bringing HPV screenings to Kenya and researching barriers to accessible lung cancer screening. $2.4 million was raised in the final 24 hours of the event, which averaged around 73,000 viewers at any given time during its weeklong run. The $500,000 incentive for a bonus run of “Deltarune” was a major contributor to the last day rush, met with mere seconds to spare during the ending of “Portal 2,” the evening’s penultimate event.
Awesome Games Done Quick is more than just a mind-blowing watch; it’s a display of the kindness and inclusivity of the speedrunning community. One of the many bidding wars led to the “Fallout: New Vegas” save file being named “TransRights,” and most runners and commentators included their pronouns beside their names. Many donations were dedicated to loved ones lost to cancer, or in celebration of those in remission. Donations were also read regardless of the amount to encourage those who could only afford to give smaller amounts.
This was the first Games Done Quick event I’ve watched, and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety in the 148 games presented. The “Awful Games” block introduced me to the horrors of “Meegah Mem II” and scarred me with the live-action cutscenes of the CDI nightmare “Zelda’s Adventure.” Later that day, I witnessed a single-player speedrun of the typically multiplayer puzzle game “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,” which was entirely new to me. Nearly every game genre had its moment in the spotlight, from the beloved platformer “Super Mario Galaxy” to the now arcade-exclusive rhythm game “crossbeats REV. Sunrise.”
AGDQ made sure that lesser-known games got the spotlight they deserved, placing indie games “Chicory: A Colorful Tale” and “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” in a perfect lunchtime block. Sure, it’s exciting to see big-name games like “Halo: Combat Evolved” beaten in less than an hour and a half, but AGDQ exposed me to games I didn’t even know existed and got me hyped about games I’d never considered interesting to watch.
Watching a two-hour marathon of the hardest modded levels in “StepMania,” a dancing game similar to “Dance Dance Revolution,” was a personal highlight, as runner SpootyBiscuit surprised everyone by passing a track with a difficulty rating of 22 (two levels higher than the highest standard difficulty). Races were a popular category, and the “Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania” race between streamers Petresinc and Helix had me on the edge of my seat. Other highlights included a 17 minute glitched run of “Stardew Valley” and a completely blindfolded run of the notoriously difficult “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.”
Beyond the excitement and wacky moments, the best part of AGDQ is that everyone wins — viewers get to see world records smashed before their eyes, runners get publicity and new followers along the way and doctors reach funding goals for research that could change the field of oncology for the better.
AGDQ 2022 was my first experience watching the event, and I’ll be chasing that thrill until Summer Games Done Quick rolls around later this year. Hopefully Games Done Quick will be able to return to in-person events soon, but in the meantime, I’ll be glued to Twitch all week.
Daily Arts Writer Harper Klotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.