Awesome Games Done Quick Closes with Record-Breaking $3.4 Million in Donations

The speedrunning charity event broke records despite having to shift to a digital format once again.

Year after year, Games Done Quick puts on bi-annual charity events that both astound viewers and bring in tons of money for charities like Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. The two events — Awesome Games Done Quick and Summer Games Done Quick — are speedrun exhibitions that feature players from around the community playing video games fast or in ways that are inexplicable. For the 168 straight hours they do this, the organization solicits donations from viewers for charity, often through incentives like prizes, bonus runs, content changes to the runs, or just general goodwill. In the decade or so since its inception, each GDQ event has fairly consistently earned more than its predecessor, leading this January’s event to break records with a $3.4 million dollar conclusion.

This year’s event was meant to be the first physical GDQ since Summer Games Done Quick 2020, which was postponed and then effectively digitized as the pandemic rolled on without an end in sight. When I spoke to GDQ direct Kasumi Yogi (known professionally as Sumichu), she and the larger organization were optimistic about meeting up in-person with an audience and a crowd and the same feel as in-person experience for AGDQ 2022.

“We really, really want to have an onsite event. We miss our friends,” Sumichu said, cautioning even then that there was always the possibility that AGDQ would have to go online again. “Everyone’s safety will always come first,” she added, putting that clause into practice when the event switched back to online due to a predictable winter surge becoming apparently during the late summer.

Decentralizing the stream has had some added silver linings despite losing that roaring-crowd quality, however. International runners can run their preferred games from the comfort of their own homes without needing to pay for a plane ticket and a hotel to raise money for charity. It also meant that the later blocks during a run could be occupied by people in time zones that fit the late night slots perfectly.

Nicholas Gussie, also known as Sent or Prizeman, had also found an interesting result from going online: becoming a meme. Years prior, Sent would poke his head in during prize segments to repeat the word “Prizes,” but GDQ moving remote forced him to record these segments from his home. This meant that people were getting a look at his living room, complete with his mother’s voice from the background costarring in some segments, and became hyper-focused on a lamp that sat next to him.

“We’ve had this lamp for 20 years in our living room,” Sent explained, “and all of a sudden 100,000 people were just spamming pictures of it in chat. It was weird, but it was also really cool.”

There hasn’t been word yet about what form Summer Games Done Quick 2022 is going to take and it’s unlikely anyone involved really knows quite yet. There is, however, a very clear desire from within the organization to hopefully come back with a physical event and an equally clear realization that there’s major factors out of their hands determining if that is ever possible. For now, the digital events don’t seem to be harming the bottom line of raising money for charity, as Prevent Cancer Foundation has a major multi-million dollar donor that keeps upping the ante every single year.