Massive, heartfelt congratulations are in order for the community of speed runners and organizers at the Speed Demos Archive, who raised a mind-blowing $420,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation over the course of their third annual “Awesome Games Done Quick” marathon this past week. Suffice it so say, the event achieved something of a critical mass this year, bringing in more money donations than all of the SDA’s past charity marathons combined and attracting a sustained viewership of around 30,000 people, with occasional spikes into the 50,000′s and beyond during some of the more popular games.
I personally had the marathon stream open in a dedicated browser tab for much of the week, and, aside from the obvious entertainment value of seeing dozens of my all-time favourite games being completely destroyed (and in record time), I consistently found myself in awe of the sheer knowledge, dedication, and enthusiasm of the runners. If you can imagine a society in which video games garner the same degree of respect and appreciation as professional sports, these people would be equitable to superstar athletes. You may think it hyperbole, but mastering a game to the degree of individual pixels or frames of animation requires a savant-like depth of understanding and concentration that eludes the majority of us.
So here’s to you, Speed Demos Archive, for so powerfully illustrating the dedication, selflessness, and incredible collaborative potential of the gaming community at a time when, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, the video game industry is once again being dragged through the mud and into the forefront of a woefully misguided debate on gun violence and media.
If, like me, you’re curious about the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s response to such a uniquely overwhelming show of support, you can read a congratulatory thank-you from special events director Linda Chastain here.