It sounds like the premise for a bad joke. What happens when you cram a bunch of nerds into a hotel for a week and make them stream their activities online?
The answer, as it turns out, is that they raise €2m for charity.
Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), the charity event in which gamers play their favourite (and sometimes least favourite) games in record speed, just goes from strength to strength.
This year’s event, which was held in Rockville, Maryland, benefitted the Prevent Cancer society.
If you are wondering what makes AGDQ such a success, then look no further than the rise of Youtube, Twitch, and community streamers.
Not only is it hugely entertaining to watch these games being torn apart with brutal ease, and in super-quick time, but the groups of people who gather around these activities are the purest form of gamer- enthusiastic, nerdy, and full of insight on their favourite activity.
So watching the runs becomes more than just a quick overview of games you may never play, but also an often funny insight into what makes playing the game so satisfying or frustrating.
There were many highlights at this year’s event, all of which can be watched separately on AGDQ’s YouTube channel, broken into separate videos.
These are our personal top five, although there were many more we have yet to catch up on.
Arguably the first truly great GTA game (and a game many of us never completed at all, it’s so big) was beaten in just over an hour by KZ_Frew.
Not only is his commentary — and that of his team on the couch — just hilarious, but Frew’s gameplay is a ridiculous deconstruction of a game we all know and love, including the reduction of Vice City to a practically ghost town by maxing out the game’s memory.
While this isn’t one of the most impressive or entertaining runs of the event, we enjoyed it because Ecco was a childhood favourite for many Irish gamers and this sequel didn’t get much attention.
So, seeing Ecco spinning and flipping his way through a truly weird landscape (Ecco is once again fighting off alien invaders from Earth) was a nice way to revisit the MegaDrive oceans without booting up the old console.
If you don’t have the time, patience, or money to play a Dark Souls game, then this one-hour, 45-minute run of the third entry is the perfect way to enjoy the series without the heartache.
The streamer Spacey1 somehow makes one of the most tense and stressful games in recent memory a peaceful stroll through the brilliant bosses, landscapes, and lore of From Software’s masterpiece.
Simply put, some fantastic commentary through one of gaming’s best releases in recent years.
Three hours of effortless gameplay through the entire world, some of which will make you wonder if you have ever played Mario correctly at all.
A throwback to what makes speedrunning communities so likeable. (And represented, of course, by a gaming mascot who made speed his very definition.)
The Sonic run this year was full of nerdy enthusiasm and crazy glitches, including one glitch that most humans can’t pull off, due to its crazy timing requirements.
Plus, it’s only 20 minutes long, so perfect bedtime watching.
Those are just our personal highlights for this year, but the list of games that were run is much, much longer.
While you can catch the entire streams on Twitch, the YouTube channel continues to be updated regularly with individual runs, too.
Some of the other highlights include Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Hollow Knight, Warcraft III, Tomb Raider II, Cuphead, Celeste, Prey, and Crypt of the Necromancer.
If you want to donate, the option remains open, so there’s still a chance to show appreciation for one of gaming’s better communities and contribute to research against cancer.
In an age when many of the loudest online communities are also the most vulgar, events like Awesome Games Done Quick are a lovely reminder that gaming brings us together, even in the nerdiest of ways.