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Why are these people blazing through your favorite games for charity?


Want to watch professional gamers tear through the games you love at ridiculous speeds, finding hilarious glitches and speaking a bizarre language of memes, all while raising more than $1 million for charity?

Then you should check out Summer Games Done Quick 2016.

SGDQ is a yearly charity event in which gamers play through classic and modern games, trying to beat them as fast as possible, for a week straight. It's also a huge fundraiser. This year, donations will go to Doctors Without Borders. In 2015, SGDQ raised $1.2 million for DWB, according to the official GDQ site.

It's also a bit confusing if you've never watched it before. Take this tweet, for example.

How does it work?

There's a schedule of when certain games will be played so you can plan to watch your favorites (but expect some changes). The event runs without stopping (except to set up the next game), so there are plenty of games being run at the wee hours of the night.

As the speedrunner(s) plays, viewers are encouraged to make donations online. Usually, the donations have a message attached, which announcers will read mid-stream. More on that later.

It's all streamed live at twitch.tv.

When is it?

It starts Sunday at 12:30 p.m. EST and is set to wrap up around midnight on the 10th.

What's speedrunning?

Beating a game as fast as possible. This often involves using game-breaking glitches and insanely precise gameplay.

Watch speedrunner "darbian" destroy the classic game "Super Mario Bros." in under five minutes in the video above. Yes, he beats the whole game.

Are there prizes for donating, like old-school telethons?

Kind of. If enough donations are given within a certain time period, an "incentive" can be achieved. This could require speedrunners to play a game under weird conditions, like playing while sharing a controller with another runner.

Alternatively, donors can bid to choose the name of an in-game character, or make a critical choice in the game's story. (More on that later.) Whoever donates the most money wins.

There are also bigger raffle prizes that all donors are entered into, ranging from gaming computers to pinball machines in past events.

Sometimes the incentives aren't about actual games. Other GDQ events have led to impromptu Disney sing-alongs while playing the Disney RPG Kingdom Hearts. (The singing starts around 1:14 in the video above.)

Who runs this?

That would be Speed Demos Archive. It's a site devoted to storing videos of speedruns and has been holding the charity event since 2010.

SGDQ takes place this year in Minneapolis, Minn.

Speedrunners are chosen based on video submissions (similar to an audition), and the goal is to create a schedule with the most broad appeal possible, according to the GDQ site.

You can attend in person - assuming you got a ticket already, since it's sold out.

I want to go! Are there other Games Done Quick events?

Yep. Awesome Games Done Quick is also annual, usually held in early January. It often raises even more money than SGDQ.

Do the donations always go to Doctors Without Borders?

The past three SGDQ events have donated to DWB. But other GDQ events have donated to the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Organization for Autism Research.

What about the donor messages?

There are a lot of inside jokes in the donation messages. Some of them reference general gamer culture ("kappa" is an old code for sarcasm, for instance). Others are more GDQ-specific.

So can you translate these inside jokes?

Let's talk about the big one: "Kill the animals" or "save the animals." It's less morbid than it seems, but you'll hear it a lot in donor messages.

The old Nintendo game "Super Metroid" is very popular among speedrunners and is usually played toward the end of an GDQ event. At one point, the player must choose to save animals from a collapsing space station or let them die, allowing them to finish the game faster (and thus come closer to a speedrunning record). This decision leads to very fierce competition among donors who debate speed versus morality.

For example...

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