People mostly see video games as a hobby, a way for people to pass the time and escape from the real world for a bit. However, what if these video games were used for good? The masterminds behind the event Games Done Quick figured out exactly how to do this, and in doing so, have raised near to $15 million for charity by merely completing video games incredibly fast.
Many gamers have thought “how fast could I do this” while playing a video game. Whether it is “Super Mario” or “Call of Duty,” there has always been a bit of competition in seeing how fast one can make it to the end of a game. This small hobby has exploded into a full community over the years. Nearly every video game has a community set on playing it as fast as possible. Whether it be “Dark Souls,” “Resident Evil,” or “Metroid Prime,” all have massive communities spending years trying to shave seconds off a world record.
The explosion of speed-running has been assisted by a semi-annual charity event called Games Done Quick. Games Done Quick, commonly abbreviated as GDQ, is a weeklong marathon with many different players, or runners, sitting down to play the games they’re best at for a week straight, day and night. During this event, the community sends in donations, with incentives like raffle prizes and the opportunity to choose what happens in certain games. For example, one may donate $25 to Games Done Quick and then gets to choose what he or she would like the runner to name the character in “Dark Souls 3.” Another incentive for donations is bonus games. In every event, some games will only be played if a certain donation total is met. For instance,” Resident Evil 2″ may only be played on the hardest difficulty if one and a half million dollars is donated to the game.
As well as donation incentives, Games Done Quick has a partnership with the tee shirt company, The Yetee. The Yetee designs several gaming related shirts and puts them in the store. When these shirts are sold, 50 percent of the proceeds are given straight to the Games Done Quick total. Of these shirts, there is a special GDQ themed shirt for the year; some fans own all of the exclusive The Yetee Games Done Quick shirts. The new shirts are only available for the week of each event.
Games Done Quick has two events: Awesome Games Done Quick in the winter and Summer Games Done Quick in the summer. Over the last eight years, these two events have raised a total of 14 and a half million dollars for charity. All of the proceeds from Awesome Games Done Quick have gone to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and all of the proceeds from Summer Games Done Quick have gone to Doctors Without Borders. The Prevent Cancer Foundation is all about cancer research and attempting to find a cure. Doctors Without Borders is dedicated to getting medical treatment to war-torn countries.
The people who play the games during the event, known as the runners, put on more of a performance than just playing a video game. They explain the tricks and bugs in the game they are using, tell the history of the game, share their own experiences with the game, and also explain how to get into the gaming community. The runners are also usually accompanied by a
few guests, known as the “couch,” who are fellow members of the community that provide commentary during tense moments, as well as comic relief.
Along with the set semi-annual events, Games Done Quick has also done special short-notice marathons where the runners stream their games from their own homes, and all proceeds go to different charities. For example, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a marathon over the Sept. 1 weekend raised close to $250,000 for the Houston Food Bank.
Games Done Quick really shines in the moments between the gameplay. During a dull moment in a game or the set-up session between two games, there will be an announcer reading the comments attached to donations. These comments, especially during the Prevent Cancer events, are usually very heartfelt, telling of donors’ experiences with cancer and their reasons for donating. During these readings, an entire boardroom full of viewers and gamers is completely quiet, letting the message be heard. These moments are so important for the event even if they might give it a somber tone.
These events are massively successful and popular. Tickets to attend the events in person sell out in minutes, and during the entire weeklong run, they are regularly at the top of Twitch.tv’s streaming leaderboards. The latest Awesome Games Done Quick event that occurred during the week of Jan. 7 was the most successful run since GDQ started, raising $2.29 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Games Done Quick is perhaps the best example of Saint Leo’s core value of Community in the country right now. Watching a group of people with nothing in common besides their love for video games do so much right in the world is enough to give a heart to even the evilest video game villains. If the donation messages are any evidence, this handful of gamers is the closest thing to real-life video game heroes in the world right now.