On Sunday 22nd June, the bi-annual 'Games Done Quick' happens again with Summer Games Done Quick, a weeklong streamed event hosted by Speed Demos Archive, with near-constant video game speedruns, and all donations going to charity (Doctors Without Borders).
If you don't know what the event entails, I'll try to explain. Speedrunning is trying to get through a game as quickly as possible, typically exploiting broken or overlooked issues and bugs to manipulate the game to progress much faster than normal. This includes skipping optional sections, skilled shortcuts, pixel-perfect controlling and so forth. There are different categories for speedruns which define what must be done in order for the run to be successful – an example would be an All Bosses category which means all of the bosses must be defeated otherwise it is an unsuccessful run (even if the game is finished). On top of these runs, there are races where two or more runners compete to beat the game first. With most runs, the runner is accompanied by friends and other runners who will help explain to the viewer and audience what's going on, why and how certain things work, as well as providing moral support. The runs usually take between 30mins and 1hr30mins, but a few take minutes and others a few hours depending on the way the game works or how much research has been done on it. There's even the chance a run might be the new world record!
The donations all go to charity, but some runs have incentive levels - these can be anything from something the runner will wear whilst playing, the file name of the game, the character used, a post-run showing of specific glitches (this also happens if the run comes in well-under target) or targets within the game. Funny things can also happen during the runs if big donations are met, so it's always worth keeping an ear or an eye out for those. The schedule is here, and it auto-adjusts to your time-zone so you can plan which - if any - you're going to watch. If you miss any, they'll end up on the Speed Demos Archive YouTube channel (and usually those of the runners themselves).
This isn't just about gaming. It's about a community coming together to raise money for charity – in fact, to date, the combined total from the events run by Speed Demos Archive is over $2m USD (half of that total was the most recent event, Awesome Games Done Quick 2014), so this isn't something small.
For more information, check out:
The Wiki page of Speed Demos Archive which explains speedrunning a little better than I did, and has information on past events.
The Speed Demos Archive website, with an extensive FAQ on their standards, methods and what speedrunning is.
The Games Done Quick site itself, which has a few details on the event itself as well as the event schedule.
Finally, I've added a video showing a short speedrun which should hopefully give an example of what the event will be like.