In 2004, Rockstar released one of the greatest video games of all time.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas took hold of a historic franchise and somehow escalated it to an even greater measure. The vast wide-open world, fantastic cast of characters, and funny-as-hell dialogue made GTA:SA a classic, must-have in every gamer’s library. But why, you may ask?, am I presenting this information to you in 2018? Sure San Andreas was fantastic…but how do you keep this (or any other) game made over a decade ago fresh and fun?
Enter then, the concept of Speedrunning. Sure, you’re probably familiar with the basics: play a vidjagame really fast and try to shave down your time each play-through. But with such a simple idea, why is it so addictive? Taking a quick peek at the Speedrunning community on Twitch, you can find everything from Donkey Kong Country to King’s Quest being played daily at paces not intended by the original developers. Mixing in some background music or unique interactive sounds, most streamers can keep viewers entertained for hours on end. For me however, there’s one speedrunner in particular that’s considered “appointment viewing.”
Hugo_One ,while a world record speedrun holder in Burger King’s legendary Pocketbike Racer, is best known for his almost nightly Twitch runs of classics from the GTA series. With a loyal viewer base engaging with chats or sounds comparable to the rituals of the old “Midnight Movie” crowds, each playthrough feels like an event. To help us on the quest to understand this phenomenon, Hugo was gracious enough to answer some questions for us. With his help, maybe we can find out what makes a channel like his so addictive.
When did you realize you were a Speedrunner? What sucked you in and kept you going?
“When I first discovered Twitch I stumbled upon GTA: Vice City speedruns and thought it was an amazing way to continue to enjoy an old game over and over. Then I looked to see if people were speedrunning my favorite game, GTA: San Andreas and I was pleased to see that they were. I became hooked and watched hours of GTA:SA speedrun streams everyday until I had learned most of the speedrun strats. I then decided I wanted to try it myself and that was the beginning of my speedrunning hobby.”
How big of a following do you have currently? What do you feel keeps those followers coming back night after night?
I currently have over 61,000 followers on Twitch and over 31,000 subscribers on YouTube. I think many people show up everyday because of the awesome community we have on Twitch. Even those who don’t always chat with us love to keep up with what’s happening in the lives of the regulars who do chat everyday. Many others show up for the love of the game. They love seeing their favorite games played through everyday. It’s similar to fans of sports who can watch a game every night.
What qualities make a game worthy of a Speedrun? What does it need to have to fuel your desire to play it thousands of times?
As long as the game as a clear beginning and end then it can become a speedrun. Games with a lot of action work best in my opinion. Having to sit through long cutscenes or boring tasks can take the fun out of a speedrun for the runner and viewers.
Your particular choice of games tends to yield some toxic assholes in your stream and YouTube comments. Do you feel this is a problem with Speedrunning at large or is it just indicative of the type of games you choose to play?
I still can’t figure out what causes so much negativity from certain people that I have encountered while speedrunning. I’m sure there are lots of different reasons why some people act the way they do. We are, however, lucky enough to have a lot of really good people who are really nice and supportive, so the good outweighs the bad overall.
Do you watch other Speedrunners? Ever watch streams of games you’d never play yourself?
Yes, I still watch a ton of GTA speedruns. No matter how much I watch or play them, I still can’t get enough. I also enjoy watching different Mario speedrunners. I have tried some Super Mario 64 speedruns but I mostly just enjoy watching rather than joining in at this point.
What’s something you wish you knew before starting as a Speedrunner? Did you learn a hard lesson early on?
People will have some very harsh words for you if you choose to do things your own way rather than to do it the way they think you should. It still shocks me to this day that people can be so aggressive and angry that you may choose to play differently than they do. It took me a while to just stop worrying about doing things the way others want you to do them and to instead just do it for yourself.