are we human or are we Gamer

Strange Fixations, Vol. 1 — GDQ + heatwave = existential crisis

[via Reddit]

Hello friends!

Welcome to my new newsletter, where I will be posting who I have become that week, based on my current obsession with whatever movie I just saw, book I read, TV show I watched, the drama that went down on Twitter. This will mainly be a way for me to review movies and shows I’m watching but also just muse about what’s going on in the world to stay sane and connected with folks!

This week’s topic? Games Done Quick.

Specifically, Summer Games Done Quick, or SGDQ, which was introduced in 2011 as a companion to its wintertime sibling, Awesome Games Done Quick, started in 2010. It’s an annual weeklong speedrunning marathon that raises money for charity while streaming gamers playing games from every genre as fast as possible, taking advantage of glitches, tricks, and geometry along the way.

My husband James introduced me to these events probably around 2014 (we were still just dating then) and they blew my mind. I had grown up playing Nintendo and considered myself a gamer (maybe not the most skilled, but still) but I had never even heard of speedrunning. I found it utterly fascinating.

It’s immediately clear when you watch a speedrun how much time goes into it. Fans of games form communities to study the game and break it down to its component pieces. They exploit every bug, find every weak point in the walls and doors, all for the perverse pleasure of breaking the game apart to finish it as fast as possible. Once routes have been established, tricks and movement strategies still take practice, and the difficulty and precision is often extreme. Watching high level players execute a great run is akin to seeing an out-of-the-park home run, a perfect cross-court basketball shot; the pinnacle of performance.

On top of all this, the Games Done Quick events have become infamous for being one of the few (certainly the biggest) speedrun marathons to host the event live, on a “main stage” with an audience, and to regularly raise millions of dollars for charity. The impressive elements of speedrunning combined with the energy of a live audience makes for some truly memorable moments, and the chants of “HYPE” “ORB” and counting down to donation milestones have become big parts of the event.

Of course, this year, things have been a little different. The live portion of the event was canceled in the midst of coronavirus concerns, and the event is being streamed online only. The loss of the audience is a bummer, but we still find ourselves keeping the TV tuned to the stream like we do every year. It’s a comfort still, a feeling of community in a time when it’s hard to get together with our friends and family. We can still feel connected in this niche corner of the world of video games that feels a little like summer camp.

Being a collective of groups of many different kinds of gamers, Games Done Quick has had its share of issues and controversy, but I genuinely feel like they make an effort to be thoughtful, inclusive, and to represent the gaming community well. They have definitely fucked up before and can be slow to adapt, but I do have to remind myself that the core staff is largely a bunch of volunteers in their early-to-mid-twenties. Representation for trans gamers for example used to be a big problem in the marathon, but small changes like better chat moderation, pronoun tags for streamers, and more trans runners making it to the main stage have shown that times are changing for the better.

SGDQ 2020 is about to wind down, it ends Saturday, August 22nd, and I know when it’s over I’ll feel that strange hollow in my heart like when you finish a really good book, or take the last bow in a play. You say goodbye to the small world you inhabited for a while and have to face whatever comes next. Then it will be on to the next thing to carry me through another week…

But What Happened On Twitter This Week?

Okay, I get it, you’re “healthy” and don’t obsessively check social media for news and memes every hour. Here’s what you missed:

Enjoy your weekend babes, see you next time!

❤ Elyse

Originally published August 21st, 2020 at



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Elyse Wietstock

Elyse Wietstock


An opinionated nerd who writes about media, pop culture, and other things.