Harry Gowland on the cultural genre of speedrunning, from video games to calculators to TV shows.
Nintendo recently released a downloadable calculator for the Switch console, for those who need to do complex multiplication problems in between visits to Animal Crossing. If your first question on hearing this news isn’t “what is the world record for counting to one thousand on a Switch calculator?”, then you arguably had a normal reaction to this rather boring news.
But then you aren’t SmallAnt, a Twitch streamer, who managed the feat in under thirty seconds.
There is a huge online community for speedrunning, which is attempting to beat video games as fast as possible: websites like speedrun.com host huge databases of entries from people vying to take the #1 spot for fastest completion of basically every game going. But it doesn’t really even have to be a game: If you add a layer of interactivity to almost any program, someone will try and speedrun it.
Some bizarre speedruns exist to lampoon internet trends. There’s this YouTube video of someone completing an entire overdramatic and insincere YouTube apology video, complete with fake tears and heavy sigh, in 29.19 seconds.