It’s that time of the year again to hop on Twitch with some popcorn and get ready for some incredible speedruns. ADGQ, which stands for Awesome Games Done Quick, is a fundraising organization that donates all the money they earn to charity. A specific charity, in fact: the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
It’s been going on for over 10 years and is arguably the biggest gaming charity event right now. As of 8 am Wednesday, January 6, they are at over half a million dollars with the rest of the week to go.
The event lasts a full 7 days and goes 24/7 straight through the night, with a variety of runners stepping up to the TV when it’s their turn even if it’s 4 am.
The event is usually held in person, but this year, like the summer run and the corona relief run they did, is all virtual. Gamers and hosts alike are in their homes (and I’m absolutely convinced one guy is in his grandmother’s living room), staying up odd hours and working hard to provide entertainment. And, hopefully, some money for charity.
Last year, they raised over $3 million. In the summer, they raised another $2.3 million. In 2019? Another $2.4.
This is a lot of money going to charity. So what’s it all about?
What is speedrunning?
Speedrunning is going through a specific video game as fast as possible. That’s… about the long and the short of it. Any video game can be speedrun, technically, but different games lend itself to the concept better.
There are ‘glitchless’ runs, where no glitches or manipulation used. There are ‘glitched’ runs, where you’re basically trying to break the game in order to get through it faster. There are percent runs, where you’re trying to hit a certain goal or percentage complete, not necessarily always beating the game.
Watching these people try to break the game in order to get to the end faster sounds boring… until you watch one of your favorite games or an exceptionally glitched run. And then you’re hooked.
I’ve been watching ADGQ as long as I’ve been with my husband, and we watch every year. We usually don’t binge it, but skip around to find interesting or silly runs. The “awful block” is always a winner, which is a series of really awful games that are speedrun.
This year, Thursday, January 7th, the awful block starts at 12:10 am and runs for about ten hours. Highlights include Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins, Mr. Bones, and The Lawnmower Man.
You can’t tell me you don’t want to watch a sleep-deprived gamer struggle through something called He Who Bears Wins at 3 am.
Wait, there are prizes?
Yes, there are!
With donations of certain amounts, you get entered in to a chance to win prizes. Sometimes these prizes are donations from a gaming company, like a guidebook, official art books, or even signed copies of games. Red Wolf Networks donated a very impressive gaming PC, for example, valued at about $2,000.
Most of the time, though, it’s fun and cool art the community itself has made, like a set of Mario Bros chainmail inlays, drawings, hand made plushes, and more.
You can see the full list of prizes right here.
One of their biggest sponsors over the years is The Yetee, who do limited edition runs of t-shirts, stickers, sweaters, and more, with the profits from the items sold going to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Yetee also regularly drops in and donates $10,000 just because.
Their full ADGQ collection for this year can be found here, but I think I’m going to pick my husband up that sweet Metroid shirt.
Finally, you can donate towards incentives. That could be silly things, like a specific name for a character or choosing a dog or cat in Stardew Valley, or big things, like seeing “bonus” games getting their own speedruns, or extra-hard challenges, like a blindfolded run.
What to watch?
Today (Wednesday) there are some great PlayStation titles being run, including Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon and the original Crash Bandicoot. Tomorrow, highlights are (in addition to the Bears, of course) Pokemon Platinum, Deus Ex, Halo 3, and a new addition with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
The stream really kicks it up on the weekend, with Luigi’s Manson, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Final Fantasy VII, and Super Mario 64 on Friday. The day ends with Super Mario Sunshine and Yakuza 6: Song of Life.
Saturday promises a good time with a Castlevania block starting at about 10am. Super Meat Boy, Super Mario 2, and a handful of TASBot runs. My husband is excited to see the Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice run at 6 pm, which will hopefully fill my heart of the Bloodborne-sized hole in it, a run I always look forward to but wasn’t included this year.
Wait, go back, what’s TASBot?
Okay, so yes, I dropped that and ignored it, but if you’re interested in seeing the game from a very technical point of view, the TASBot runs are great. TASBot is a tool-assisted speedrun robot.
Yes, seriously. TASBot is a speedrun robot.
He takes a series of controller inputs, determines what is best, and sends them to either the NES or the SNES. It’s… honestly really cool to watch. While it doesn’t have the comedy of human error that most speedruns have, it’s fascinating to see what can be done, given perfect inputs.
Where to watch?
Interested in supporting AGDQ, or at least checking it out? The full schedule is available right here on their website. The full site can be found here, which includes information on their charity of choice, donation links, prizes, and more.
The stream is available on Twitch, and if you’re a Prime member, you can get Twitch Prime for free, which means no ads!
It can also be watched on the ADGQ main site, and it looks like The Yetee’s main site is streaming it, too. Runs that have already happened are edited and put on the ADGQ YouTube Channel as well, if you’re looking for a specific game and don’t want to sift through hours of video on the Twitch platform.
If you’re really into speedruns and want to learn more, there is an official website that lists all the games that have been run, the world records, and the categories available. It’s fun to check out your favorite games and see just how broken they can really be!
I’ll leave you with this incredible sub-50 minute Cuphead run from 2019. I’ve never played Cuphead – I don’t have the patience! – but this is always a fascinating run to watch because it requires such a high level of skill to pull off.