What does speedrun mean?
There are lots of different types of speedruns, there are opinions about what makes a speedrun good or bad, and there are even debates around how to classify speedruns. With all the complex wording, categories, and in-depth conversations surrounding speedruns, one this is certain: the meaning of speedrunning.
Speedrun definition: Completing video games as quickly as possible.
Speedrunning in a nutshell
There are many different types of speedruns. Speedruns can be co-op, blindfolded, completionist, glitched, glitchless, one-handed, one-player using two controllers, segmented speedruns, and there are even speedruns done by robots or with pre-recorded inputs. So long as a speedrun can be categorized, it can be considered a speedrun.
The only requirement for a speedrun is going fast. Some people do speedruns that aren’t video games, though they are often done as memes, marketing, or entertainment rather than the usual competitive vibe you get from video game speedrunning. Completing a game isn’t required for speedrunning either, though it is most commonly the main objective. In those instances, a player may be speedrunning to get the Master Sword in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, or completing a certain in-game task. As you can see, a definitive definition of “speedrun” can quickly become a complicated task to work out, but there’s no need to get lost in semantics. Generally, to speedrun means completing video games as quickly as possible.
Types of Speedruns
These are the most common types of speedruns:
- 1 player 2 controllers (1p2c)
- Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE)
- Tool-Assisted Speedrun (TAS) (see also ‘What Is A TAS: Tool-Assisted Speedruns Explained‘)
What is Any% in Speedrunning?
Any% means that any percentage of the game can be completed during a speedrun, as long as the user has reached the end credits of a video game.
Written by itself, it is usually but not always, implied that any glitches are free for use in reaching the end credits of the game. However, it is always best to check the speedrun category and game rulesets to fully understand what is or is not accepted within any given category. Some communities will include arbitrary code execution (ACE), and other profoundly game-breaking glitches within the Any% category, while other communities will create a separate leaderboard such as “Any% (ACE)”.
While 100% may sound pretty straightforward, it can actually be a little tricky to clearly define. Every game has its own definition of 100%. Some games show an in-game percentage, while for other games a community agreement needs to be reached.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX for the Game Boy Color is a great example. There was some debate over what exactly constitutes a 100% speedrun. There is not an in-game percentage counter to help make this obvious. Instead, we had to consider what makes the most sense. In the end, it was agreed upon that 100% means having all heart containers, all items and their upgrades, and all instruments (collected from the dungeons). However, speculation has continued into more thorough 100% categories that include clearing every map tile, or opening every chest. The conversation has led to some silly ideas such as using a shovel to dig up every tile in the game, despite the game not setting any flags in the code to retain that information.
100% in speedrunning means what is determined by the speedrunning community for that specific title, unless otherwise stated by an in-game percentage tracker.
To some, a glitch could be as simple as canceling an action early to more quickly input another action, such as the famous wave dash in Super Smash Bros. Melee. To others, glitches are specifically actions within a game not intended by the developers of the game. Yet again, there is debate in what constitutes as a glitch, but one thing is for sure — some people just don’t like them.
For some speedrunners glitches take away from the experience by skipping sections of the game, for some they are simply too difficult to consistently perform or unfun, such as frame-perfect glitches that could lead to massive time saves. Other speedrunners enjoy seeing how far a game can be pushed or testing their ability to nail these often frustratingly tight exploitations. At the end of the day, how a person chooses to speedrun comes down to personal preference mixed with community decisions.
If you don’t like glitches, it is recommended that you look into speedruns labelled as “glitchless”. Furthermore, it is good to know some commonly used terms in speedrunning, so that you can better avoid speedruns with glitches you dislike. “WW” and “OoB” are common speedrunning abbreviations.
Common Terms in Speedrunning
WW in speedrunning means wrong warp. Wrong warping means entering an area of a game from a different location than where is expected. For example, a door leading to a house instead places you in a dungeon.
OoB in speedruns means out of bounds. Out of bounds means being outside of the intended confining walls and collisions in a game. For example, walking into a dungeon without using a door or entrance.
If you’d rather not see these types of exploits being used in a speedrun, you should keep an eye out for speedruns labelled “No WW/OoB”. However, many viewers and speedrunners who once stood avidly against the use of these glitches have changed their mind after learning the techniques and knowledge behind them. With that said, it is always healthy to keep an open mind about what you might or might not enjoy.
If you’re already sold on speedrunning and want to start, check out our guide on choosing your first game to speedrun!
Speedrunning 1p2c (1 player, 2 controllers)
There are 2 player 1 controller (2p1c) speedruns, in which one player may jump and attack, while another only uses the directional pads. 1 player, 2 controllers is different, as usually its one player using both hands to handle 2 characters at once, using 2 controllers. This can be done as a personal challenge, while other times it may simply be faster to play as 2 characters.
These types of runs aren’t always popular, but they can be quite a spectacle! If you ever have an option to check one out, I’d recommend it!
Here’s an example of Yagamoth’s 2p1c speedrun of The Secret of Mana.
Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE)
In speedrunning ACE stands for arbitrary code execution and means to use a series of inputs and in-game actions to manipulate the code of the game to produce an unintended outcome.
This is sometimes, but not always, included in the Any% category by default, since Any% quite literally means just hitting the end credits as fast as possible, by any means available. ACE is a very unique viewing experience, and often results in a short speedrun.
As one example, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening uses ACE to reach the end credits of the game in only 1 minute and 21 seconds. This is done by setting the file names at the beginning of the game to certain characters. Then, the user performs a series of actions in the game to trigger a cutscene. The cutscene that is supposed to be shown here is altered by the file names, and causes the final credits cutscene to display.
You can ACE in action in Lomiig’s speedrun here.
Tool-Assisted Speedrun (TAS)
Tool assisted speedruns, also known as TAS, are any speedruns where the use of external tools are used to speedrun a video game.
Often, these speedruns are made by adding inputs to a game before the speedrun itself. This removes the human error element (mostly), and can often be a showcase proving what an extremely optimized speedrun would look like. It can be lots of fun to watch, and also can be used to discover new time saves and speedrun routes.
How to Learn More About Speedrunning?
There are lots of great resources for speedruns.
- Learn which timer to use for speedruns, we have a guide for that.
- To read more about speedrunning, check out our Speedrunning Explained article.
- If you’d like to browse live speedruns, you can browse for livestreams using the “speedrun” tag on Twitch.tv.
If you have any other questions about the meaning of speedruns, or how to get involved, feel free to leave a comment below!