For those who don't know, AGDQ (or Awesome Games Done Quick) is a week long speed running marathon that is essentially a showcase for skilled gamers who raise money for charity. Donations for AGDQ go towards the Prevent Cancer Foundation and the donations for SGDQ (the event they hold in July) go towards Doctors Without Borders. It's cool in and of itself that the event consistently raises huge sums for charity as the past two events have raised over 3 million dollars over the course of the week, but they're also just a really neat spectator experience. And this one happened to be held at a hotel in Orlando so it was only about twenty five minutes away! I definitely couldn't pass it up.
To start I would say that it helps to have at least a passing understanding of speed runs to enjoy the event, but it's not mandatory. My wonderful girlfriend who gets the basic idea but is generally unfamiliar with a lot of the games being run still had a great time. Honestly I don't follow speed running that closely. I usually watch the GDQ streams and casually speed run Spyro 1 and 2. But being in the audience makes even games I was completely unfamiliar with engrossing to watch.
We had some friends in town to start the week, so we spent Sunday and Monday shepherding them through Disney, so our first AGDQ day was Tuesday. Walking into the ballrooms full of gaming setups was a familiar exercise for me considering I've been to several Super Smash Bros tournaments at this point, but it's just fun to see that many gamers in one place in such an organized setting.
These are a few pictures of what is essentially just a free play ballroom, as well as an old SGDQ poster that I got for like three bucks. There were consoles and PCs of every type and from what I could tell there were more than enough to go around, although I didn't bother playing anything, not even when I passed the Super Smash Bros room.
I was mostly there to watch games! And watch we did, even though neither myself, my girlfriend, or my two out of town friends were familiar with the next several games being played after we arrived. The Adventures of Lolo was a fun run to watch, as was Super Castlevania. We were all of course knowledgeable enough to understand the Pokemon Sapphire run to come next, but after that was one of the coolest things I've ever seen live. Like a fool, I didn't take my own video or photo at the time, but here's the gist: two speed runners played Mike Tyson's Punch Out on the NES BLINDFOLDED and with ONE CONTROLLER with one player controlling directional inputs and the other controlling the other button. It was nuts. I can't do it full justice by describing it so you should really just watch it for yourself.
That was honestly amazing and the whole ballroom gave a standing ovation when they finished. After that triumph of speed running came an abject failure of a run of Terraria by Badger, that nevertheless was awesome for everyone involved as Badger took his misfortunes in stride and really put on a good show, which donators and spectators alike really appreciated. I would love to see more of his runs in the future and immediately followed his twitch stream after leaving that night. We ended up going home after that because it was about 11 PM and my girlfriend had work the next day, but I stayed up pretty late watching the stream. I fell asleep sometime during the 9 HOUR Final Fantasy 8 run that ran overnight.
We spent much of the next day doing touristy Orlando things with our friends, but we did get back in time on Wednesday night to see the Ocarina of Time 100% run which took less than 3 hours (?!). Our friends stayed for the Awful Block, which is an overnight expo of some of the worst most broken games out there, but we of lesser constitution went home to get some sleep. Thursday was likewise mostly spent away from the event, but Friday we were at GDQ alllllllll day long.
The first game of our day was Celeste around 10 AM, which is a game I know is super popular for speed running but not a game I have any familiarity with. That being said, I have purchased it on Steam since the event. We watched a few Pac Man runs that were real entertaining, and watched the start of a four hour run of Pokemon X before leaving to get some food. We got back to see a whole mess of Mega Man X runs in a row, with a runner and couch commentator all the way from Taiwan performing Mega Man X3 which was pretty cool.
Next was the TAS block, which was a real crowd pleaser. TAS stands for tool assisted speedrun, and basically means that the run is performed via a computer program where someone goes in and creates exact inputs throughout the run to create a theoretical "perfect" run. Watching simulated perfect Mario 2 and 3 runs was pretty cool, and the packed ballroom agreed.
Throughout the week there were donation incentives to get different games added to the schedule, and as far as I could tell every single one was met. That meant that at the end of the TAS block we saw a glitch performed that allowed Pokemon Blue to be beaten in ten minutes which was pretty slick. But after that came my favorite run, Linkus's any% Wind Waker run. I loved Wind Waker as a kid, and he glitched the hell out of it and finished in less than an hour and fifteen minutes. Here's the run followed by my vantage point.
We also stayed late to see the Super Mario 64 randomizer race (where the location of all the stars, coins, boxes, etc are all shuffled by a program and the runners have to just figure it out as they go) which was really cool despite the fact that (loss of gamer cred in 3...2...1) I've never owned a Nintendo 64 and never played Mario 64 in my life. Overall, Friday was just an awesome day as a spectator. Saturday we went back briefly as a group, but my last game of GDQ was the Untitled Goose Game which my girlfriend really wanted to see. It was pretty hilarious I have to admit. Unfortunately I had to leave before Saturday's finale because GDQ wasn't the only marathon I had on my schedule last week.
Like a fool I had signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon like 8 months ago and *ahem* didn't train basically at all. The extent of my athletic training for this 26.2 mile race over the last year was my weekly tennis game I play with my roommate. I had done three marathons before but had never been this out of shape going in lol. Obviously I won the race, personal best and all (don't look that up). Here's a few pictures I took of the start and a few that Disney photographers snapped of me.
And finally here is a picture of me, broken and defeated, after I finished the race.
Overall, it was a really awesome week of gaming and (somewhat) athletic accomplishments! I will probably be back on TL a little more regularly now as the ESL news for SC2 piqued my interest. I will likely also be posting some in the running thread as I attempt to get back into running shape before my next marathon as my legs are currently almost too sore to move haha. I also want to start a thread for tennis this year as that has become my sport of a choice as well as a personal passion and a really enjoy both playing a following the sport, and would love to talk about tennis with TLers! Shoot me a PM if you are also a tennis fan! Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope you have learned some about AGDQ or if you already knew about it, you've learned a bit about it's appeal as a live experience. I would definitely encourage anyone who can to attend I had a blast. Thanks again for reading TL! Warm regards from your second favorite horse.