Oh mae stahhrs!

12 January 2020

I didn't grow up in a house that watched sport. I've tried over the years to find enjoyment in it but I've never succeeded and at this point I've given up and made peace with it. Playing sport can be fun but watching it... pass.

However in recent years, in our house, GDQ has become our equivalent of the Olympics. GDQ being "Games Done Quick" - a twice yearly week of videogame speedrunning (Summer Games Done Quick, SGDQ, and Awesome Games Done Quick, AGDQ in winter). Obsessive nerds playing videogames to either an astonishing level of skill or breaking their mechanics to an absurd degree.

I wouldn't personally want to speedrun anything, much like I've no interest in participating in athletics. However watching someone be ridiculously good at a game I've played can be quite entertaining.

Something that's a bigger deal to me is that GDQ isn't one night. It's a week. It's like a festival I can attend without leaving home. There's familiar faces, there's new faces, there's silly in-jokes (HONK!), and there's nail-biting action.

Watching the Super Mario Maker 2 blind relay race, for example. Wow. The premise is fairly easy to understand - various people create Mario levels specially for the event. Teams attempt to make it through these torturous gauntlets. Each time they lose a life, they switch to the next player in the team. The first team to make it through the level gets a point and all teams stop and move onto the next level.

The skill involved in playing these is immense. The teams have to learn as quickly as possible and read the cues the creator has left for them to understand what they should be doing. This time the teams were so evenly matched that one level came down to a difference of half a second. It had us howling at the screen when they almost succeeded, cheering when they did, and generally having a wonderful time.

Other runs were fun too, of course, but that was the apex. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was rather cosy, Clone Hero was mesmerising, and the Hebereke run was extremely charming, to name just a few.

What gets me is that a certain subset of folks cannot abide GDQ. It's usually for the oddest of reasons. They don't like that runners are requested not to swear on stream, for example, and will argue until they're blue in the face about it. The point of the event is to raise money for a charity - there's loads of ancillary reasons too, but ultimately the event exists for that purpose. In order to do that certain restrictions need to apply. They're advertised up front, it's not like runners arrive at the event and are then given a list of new requirements. A very odd thing to get worked up about but it does speak to the mindset of these, shall we generously say, "critics".

I say "mindset" because each criticism I read from people of this opinion seems to be tied up in their own social issues. People having fun and being silly on stream are described as "cringe" (as with many other things they're not aware of how to use the word properly, much like "so cliché" rather than "so clichéd"). As we say online "Don't @ me". I do not care to hear your opinion about your insecurities.

By that I mean that I have been to parties. I've been to conventions. I've spent time around humans and you know what?

We're not beacons of dignity.

We have fun, we make fools of ourselves, and we enjoy ourselves. Oh, does our dancing make you cringe? Poor you! Would you prefer if we didn't have in-jokes that make us feel part of a friendly and encouraging social group? Too bad!

You're not required to take part, although you're invited to. The fun is open to all, assuming they're not mean-spirited misanthropes who want to make their inferiority complexes everyone else's problem. I phrase it that way because, you know what? I have issues about looking silly and feeling like an arse when dancing! I absolutely do!

However I recognise that those issues are my burden to bear, my baggage to be dealt with. It's not everyone else's fault for having fun in a silly way. Perhaps I wouldn't be brave enough to dance but I'm confident enough to chance my precious dignity on shouting HONK!