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Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 Gives Us a Rare Look at the Inner Workings of Video Games

AGDQ isn't just about charity and speedrunning -- it's also about learning how games tick.

News by Nadia Oxford, .

Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) 2016, an ironman challenge of sorts for game lovers, started on January 3 and concluded on January 10 at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel in Herndon, VA. The final donation tally for the Prevent Cancer Foundation was $1.2 million.

AGDQ is an event that's quite unlike any other gaming-for-charity event out there. For one thing, it pops up twice a year -- once in the winter, and once in the warm months as Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ). For another, it's not simply about marathoning a bunch of games.

Watching Staiain play Stepmania on keyboard is just crazy.

Like the name suggests, AGDQ is all about going fast. The event attracts game speedrunners from all over the United States and beyond. These are people who are best at getting from the title screen to the end-game "Congratulations!!" in a mind-bogglingly short amount of time.

Sometimes these wizards warp to the endgame using glitches, exploits, or bugs. And sometimes they just haul butt. Occasionally, two speedrunners race neck-in-neck to determine which of them truly channels the spirit of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Following AGDQ requires some time investment; runs of RPGs in particular can still take several hours, and the speedrunners only break for a few hours in the wee hours of the night. Luckily, most runs are archived on YouTube so you can pick over them whenever you have a bit of time.

This Mario Maker relay is also mad crazy.

It's certainly worthwhile, as AGDQ offers insight and information about games' inner guts that you won't find anywhere else. Most speedrunners take the time to explain (or have an assistant explain) how a glitch works, or what kind of RNG wizardry they must perform in order to bend things to their will. All the math is especially interesting when it involves beloved, worked-over RPGs like Final Fantasy II for the SNES.

In fact, the good times with game-breaking was particularly potent last week thanks to some shenanigans pulled off by the event's mascot, TASBot -- a modified ROB that performs tool-assisted speedruns. Did you know Color-a-Dinosaur is hard-coded into Super Mario Bros 3? Uh, honest!

TASBot had some extra fun by achieving sentience and answering Brain Age questions with portraits of video game characters. It turns out seven-times-eight equals The Kid from Bastion.

If you missed out on the first Games Done Quick of 2016, fear not. Summer Games Done Quick 2016 is happening on July 3 through 9 this year in Minneapolis, MN. Celebrate America's freedom by watching some games get ripped apart in the process. Maybe you'll learn something about this pastime we love so much.

In the meantime, check out Bob Mackey's in-depth feature about Games Done Quick, wherein he talks to some of the event's best runners.

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