How to Grow a Following in an Obscure Speedrun: The iCarly Blow Up – A Case Study

Okay, maybe “blow up” is a bit strong. But when you consider that most obscure games will have just one or two speedruns on the leaderboards if any, I’d say this one constitutes as a blow up. So, what’s a speedgame that’s obscure? A game that no reasonable person would think to speedrun? Well, probably iCarly for the Nintendo Wii. Let’s take a quick look at where the boost in popularity came from and how this applies to building up a following for any speedrun.

This game used to be a title with a mostly empty leaderboard, lost to time and history — a shovelware product that faded into the background of everyone’s collective memories. But thanks to the actions of one person, that has changed.

Meet Saltydkdan, a YouTuber (retired from this project) who previously dedicated themself to fully completing various shovelware games. They were inspired to speedrun the game Paddington: Adventures In London, and then set out to speedrun as many shovelware games as possible. This led them to iCarly for the Nintendo Wii. We’ll come back to salty later, as they play a crucial role in where this game stands today.

The Beginning

Salty was not the first to speedrun iCarly for the Wii. That person was Silo_Simon. Simon is a runner who hasn’t dedicated themself to one game genre but has speedrun shovelware titles before. Silo_Simon’s run (with a time of 39 minutes and 51 seconds) eventually inspired Salty to acheive a faster time than that. So, Salty set out to run the game with their friend Red.

It can be really tough speedrunning a game that nobody else has ever run. However, with our own experience at Speed Gaming News, we have put together a guide for how to speedrun a game that nobody else has ever speedran. Velatoget, the founder and owner of Speed Gaming News, has personally gone through this process twice — this guide comes from a real experience, and should set you on the right path.

After just a single run, Red beat Silo_Simon’s record by a few seconds, getting a solid time of 39-minutes and 36-seconds. Afterward, Salty got a 39 minute and 26 second time. Salty settled on his victory and left it at that.

But it wasn’t over yet.

The next day, one of Salty’s viewers, ChallengerKeanu, decided to run the game and beat Salty’s record first by milliseconds. Well, beating it by milliseconds probably wasn’t in the decision, but you know… Keanu then later beat that time significantly — a 39-minute 11-second time.

Salty tried to retake the world record, but couldn’t manage to beat ChallengerKeanu in the time they wanted to dedicate towards the run. Salty ultimately retired from the game and these projects.

The “Blow Up” and iCarly Speedruns Today

Still, the iCarly speedrunning community continued to flourish anyway. Silo_Simon returned to the game 6 months later, getting a 39-minute 8-second time, and a rivalry between Silo_Simon and ChallengerKeanu began. The buzz around the game also increased after Saltydkdan made a YouTube video on these speedruns called “The World Record History of iCarly (for Wii)”. And in case it’s useful, we have a guide on which timer to use for your speedruns.

If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into the iCarly (Wii) speedruns, be sure to watch this video!

On November 12, 2020. This world record progression video for iCarly resulted in a small flood of people running the game and recording their times on speedrun.com. With over 200,000 views on the video, this world record progression continuously attracts new viewers and potential speedrunners. And while the initial hype has slowed down since, runs have been uploaded as recently as a week ago (at the time of this article).

At the time of posting this article, PMMeObama is the champion of iCarly for Wii, with a time of 38:51.160. Only time will tell how long this record will stand, and how many new runners will join the ranks.

The Takeaway

So, what does all of this mean? Well, at the most basic level, it means that any speedrun, under the right conditions, can build a following. Nintendo Wii is thought of as being less accessible, by the fact that it wouldn’t emulate as well as say NES, or Game Boy Color. And this game probably isn’t topping Christmas lists of people around the world. Either way, it still developed a strong following and has people regularly returning to speedrun, watch, or even try out the game casually because of a couple probable causes.

Competition

We’re human. By nature, competition brings excitement. Even if it was just for fun at first, if “casual speedruns” are a thing, there’s still something to note here. When the game was first being speedran, a friend got involved. Getting a friend involved puts at least 2 speedrunners on the board. It leaves room for friendly competition, and it can build up community inside jokes, and just an overall better environment for viewers and runners alike.

To put it simply, if you really want to get into a game, maybe check around to see if any of your friends or viewers want to get involved. And just like with Red in the iCarly case, maybe they’ll inspire you to go faster and work towards a better time. Chat, and people in general, tend to like measurables. Sure you can go for a personal best or an uncontested world record. But as soon as it is contested, there’s an extra weight to it. Viewers can watch both runners compete for a better time, or for besting each other’s world records.

One final remark here is obvious. Volume. Having two channels running a game means two audiences that can merge together —  and there’s not much in the world as exciting as finding another group of people who are invested in something you’re also really interested in. Two audiences coming together on Twitch or YouTube means one overall larger audience and community for the speedrun. And just by the nature of the beast that is content creation, the more viewers you have, the more viewers you will get. Thus, more potential runners will join in.

Outside Content

There is a lot of work that goes into this aspect. However, if you really want to get more people on your speedrun leaderboard or in your speedrun community, it does take effort. Posting your world records and personal bests to YouTube or other platforms is a great approach. That said, making something that’s more friendly to a viewer who doesn’t know much about the run will definitely help build up the community.

The history of iCarly, in reality, is not much history at all (relatively speaking). It couldn’t possibly compete with the 30 years of competition put into older games. However, it’s an easy topic for viewers to want to check out. From there, the curiocity may turn into excitement about running the game themselves. I’m not saying to become the next speedrun historian, but it’s just one idea. There are plenty of other creative ideas. Such as analyzing a speedrun, tutorials, “why this is my favorite speedrun”, share your passion and let people know what makes the game so special.

Luck

You may be thinking that some games just build a following out of sheer luck. But I can tell you one thing for sure. Just like there is no such thing as true RNG, there’s no such thing as true luck in building up an audience. It takes work. If you want the “luck” that other speedrun leaderboards have seen, try building up the community a bit and seeing if it increases your odds!

Thanks for reading!

 

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About the author – Naomi “Bez” Norbez:

Naomi “Bez” Norbez is an interactive fiction developer and writer. Talk to them on Twitter @NaomiNorbez

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NaomiNorbez

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