Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, gamers can be a pretty charitable sort. This was first proven by the Penny Arcade Child's Play charity way back in 2003, an effort that's still ongoing. More recently, gamers have started tuning in to twice-yearly live speedrun marathons held by Games Done Quick. The group is named after the famous Quake Done Quick speedruns and takes donations during its events to support charitable causes like the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Summer Games Done Quick 2017 just had its curtain call, and the final tally is $1,781,425.20 raised across 30,080 individual donations for Doctors Without Borders.
In case you're not familiar with the concept, a "speedrun" is a specific type of game play-through where the players finish a game as quickly as possible, optionally completing its actual goals. Categories for completion include "any%" which places no requirements on completion aside from the game's ending, "glitchless" which prohibits the use of bugs and exploits, and "all" or "max" which require the player to complete every task or goal like killing every monster or collecting every item.
The amount listed above marks the highest donation total ever for a Games Done Quick event. During the event, the organizers and runners coordinate "donation incentives" that allow viewers to do things like pick the savegame filenames used for runs, or change a run type to "all secrets" instead of "any%". One of the most popular donation incentives each year is the Super Metroid "Save or Kill the animals" incentive. In that game, players can take a short detour and release a small group of animals from captivity, saving them from firey doom. However, doing so does take a brief second, and every frame counts in speedrunning. That particular incentive raised over $250,000 alone this year.
This summer's event mostly went off smoothly, and there were a number of excellent runs. The standout for me was Andy's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past swordless run in 1:14:58. Divinity: Original Sin made its first appearance at the event and it was hilarious to see the two runners defeat the final boss of this 50-plus-hour game in a little over 20 minutes in the most ridiculous fashion possible. Runner Matchboxmatt did a great job blowing through the gorgeous Mirror's Edge Catalyst in just over an hour. The eight-hour Final Fantasy VII speedrun is one of the longest to ever appear at the events, but the commentary on it was excellent and helped engage viewers throughout. Finally, cheese05's 120-star run of Super Mario 64 in 1:41:40 is an exhibition in platforming games skill.
There were a ton of great speedruns this year, and those are but a few examples. If you missed the live streams, you can check out the raw clips on Youtube now or wait for more edited versions to show up. The next Games Done Quick event will probably be Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 next January, so if you'd like to participate, you've got about six months to brush up those skills.