What is speedrunning?

Speedrunning is a sub-genre of video gaming that’s been known since the early 2000’s. Slowly, it started becoming more and more popular and a lot of new people started speedrunning various kind of videogames. In 2018, things are going well and speedrunners and events are finally getting more recognition, though it’s still not even close to being the number one topic in mass media.

However, speedrunning is quite different compared to eSports games such as CS:Go, League of Legends, and fighting games (Street Fighter, Smash etc.), which brings a question to people who have never seen a speedrun of a game: What actually is speedrunning?

Speedrunning means you beat the game as fast you can within certain requirements; rules change depending on what category is being run. Every game is different, some are very lengthy, some are very buggy, some are very short, and so on. Speedrunners are not afraid of utilizing glitches to shave off extra seconds, but there are also glitchless categories.

Alright Cranky Kong, I’ll beat you!

Recording and streaming

The majority of speedrunners livestream their speedruns on twitch.tv. Back when streaming wasn’t an option, speedrunners recorded their gameplay and posted it to YouTube. Some speedruns weren’t able to be finished in a single-segment, so in that case those runs were called “segmented speedruns” meaning they are done in more than one sitting.

Years ago, speedruns were hosted by SpeedDemosArchive. Over time, it became outdated due to many people beating times on SDA and streaming’s (on Twitch) popularity rising in the gaming community. Other sites also started to come up, one being SpeedRunsLive which hosts races – it has an IRC bot that gives racers a countdown and has them type “.done” when they finish.
Another vital site to speedrunners is speedrun.com. This site hosts the leaderboards for ALL videogames that are speedran.


While there can be many different categories, every game at least has one or two of these main categories:
“Any%” = Beat the game as fast as possible
“100%” = Collect everything

If there’s not a %-counter in a speedrun, the speedrun community for that game decides the ruleset and requirements for all categories. All games are different, so the amount of categories varies a lot. One good example is Ocarina of Time, over the past years, many new glitches have been found for this game – which changes the how the game is ran. For example: In 2011, Any% for OoT used to be over an hour long. The current Any% WR for Ocarina of Time is 17:04 by Torje.

In Super Mario 64, 100% is called 120 Star instead. This is same in Super Mario Sunshine with 120 Shines, and Super Mario Galaxy with 120 Star / 242 Star.

Sometimes, Any% as a category may not be the most exciting to watch, due to some games being really buggy and possible to beat within a couple minutes. For example, Super Mario 64’s Any% is called 0 star, where you beat the game in 6-7 minutes. It isn’t the most ran category though, 120 Star and 70 Star are the most popular categories for Super Mario 64.

Terms and slang

Speedrun slang you may run into:
WR = World record
PB = Personal best
RNG = Random number generator (aka luck)
TAS = Tool-assisted speedrun (computer-made perfect speedrun)


Speedrunners use timer for their speedruns, one example being LiveSplit. The amount of customization in LiveSplit is amazing, which makes it the most commonly used timer in the speedrunning community.

Here’s two examples what timer can look like, left = wooferzfg’s, right = mine (Samura1man)

For a first time viewer, speedrunning may be confusing to look at, but speedrunners are always happy to help out and explain what everything means. In LiveSplit, the most important thing to know is when a runner is ahead or behind their PB/WR. The colors of the numbers indicate how they are doing compared to previous runs.
Red = behind
Green = ahead
Gold = best time ever on that split

“Isn’t it boring to play the same thing over and over again?”

Not really. Every speedrun attempt is different. You have different mistakes, different RNG, and other things that make each run different. Speedruns will always have mistakes – it is almost impossible for a human to achieve a “perfect” speedrun. I’m saying it’s almost impossible, because you never know how far runners are willing push their limits.

Moments like this are special to speedrunners:

The satisfaction of getting new personal best or even new world record can be a huge motivation boost to keep pushing yourself.

Did you get interested in speedrunning?

Make sure to checkout speedrun streams on Twitch.tv with the “Speedrun” tag for many different speedrun streams. Some of the most popular/influential speedrunners ever: Siglemic, NarcissaWright, Trihex, ZFG, Cheese05, GrandPOObear, and Calebhart42.