What It Takes To Be a Speedrunner

Caroline Henry

Have you ever wanted to test how fast you can get through a game? Or wanted to know how fast a game can be completed? There is a large community dedicated to doing just that across many video games, old and new. It’s called Speedrunning. It’s a fairly recent hobby that has solidified itself in gaming history. Luckily, the U hosted a virtual presentation about speedrunning on March 26th that featured David Livingston, aka Kosmic, a world record speedrunner. You can watch his speedruns on Twitch at twitch.tv/Kosmic and follow him on Twitter @kosmicd12.  During the presentation, Kosmic talked about how he started speedrunning as a hobby and some of the games he speedruns like Super Mario 64, which he is well-known for. Kosmic went on to answer questions about how to get into speedrunning and what it takes.


Getting started

Super Mario 64, one of the most popular games to speedrun due to its fluid and complex movement.

In order to start speedrunning, you must find a game to speedrun. This is entirely up to how you want to play games. A lot of speedrunners prefer fluid movements and the capability for cool tricks.

On the other hand, there are games that take time and planning. Role-playing games rely more on knowing which moves to use and the layout of enemy encounters. No matter which playstyle you prefer, you can find a game that appeals to you.

Now, let’s say that you want to stream the speedruns you attempt on a platform like Twitch. It’s actually quite simple to set up. You’ll want streaming software. The most popular one is OBS Studios, which is free to download. This will capture and record your computer screen and any games that you have opened. However, some games like those on consoles will need video graphics software for them to show up on computers. For a timer to record your progress, Kosmic mentioned that he uses Livesplit. It’s manually-controlled, so you must remember it. Make sure you go by how long your speedrun is and not your stream when submitting it to records.


The original Animal Crossing is one of the longest speedruns to 100% complete with speedrunners investing over 15 hours in it.


How much practice someone will commit to speedrunning varies per person. Some people may do this every day while others may stretch out training over time. It’s important to watch speedrun videos of the game you’re planning on playing. You’ll be able to get an idea of what you’re getting into along with learning the fastest routes. Speedrunning isn’t an entirely solo accomplishment though. Joining speedrun communities on Discord for your specific game provides a place to exchange ideas, get help, and figure out how to complete the game even quicker. Most importantly, make sure you attempt speedruns. This means you must commit to playing the same levels over and over again. Your first time through will always be bad, but this only allows for improvements.



During your journey to mastery, you will encounter roadblocks that are normal for the speedrunning community. Game mechanics can hinder your progress. There are some tricks that are difficult to land either because they are risky or require frame-perfect inputs. Random parts in video games that you have no control over are also hard to navigate. They can even make or break your speedrun.


Some roadblocks are completely unavoidable. Unskippable cutscenes are featured in some games. These are always included in the records unless there’s a way to bypass them and the category you play under allows it. It doesn’t excuse how sitting through those cutscenes constantly can be very annoying. Another one, as mentioned by Kosmic, is sidescrolling games. Games that force you to go at a specific pace stop you from being as fast as you want since you don’t want to fail by going out of bounds. 

An important thing that Kosmic mentioned is that frustration is due to the speedrunner having wrong expectations, whether it’s in themselves or the obstacle they are encountering. It’s important for them to understand that the obstacle they’re stuck on is hard or that there might be a different route they could research for.



There are resources available if you want to dive into the world of speedrunning. These are some places that came up during the virtual presentation:

Speedrun.com is the go-to place to record and look at the speedrunning leaderboards for a wide variety of games. It gives helpful notes on finding the community for the game you’re planning on playing. Most importantly, it has links to websites and tools that will help you get started. These include links to all the previously mentioned tools to setup streaming your speedruns and others.

YouTubers that were mentioned to check out for beginner speedrunners are Summoning Salt and Bismuth. Summoning Salt provides information on speedrun world records of different video games including Super Mario 64 and Ninja Gaiden. Bismuth explains tricks that are popular in certain games and how some game’s world record times are achievable.