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September 10, 2022

Community Spotlight: Speedrunning

image source: Dr4gonBlitz/YouTube

Community Spotlight is an ongoing exploration of the various communities that exist on YouTube. To determine which channels make up any community, we analyze a variety of signals, including titles, tags and other metadata, to form a pool (excluding artist channels and channels that are not relevant). Community stats are derived from that grouping.

What: Over the past couple of years, the concept of speedrunning, completing a game — or a smaller segment within a game — as quickly as humanly possible, has seen a surge in content creation and viewership on YouTube. In response to growing activity related to speedrunning, we’ve taken a closer look at the emerging Speedrunning community on YouTube.

Speedrunning is a community that exists within the Gaming vertical. It’s an emerging community of over 400 channels that focus a significant portion of their content on speedrunning. Although many of these channels feature gameplay footage of actual speedruns being completed, there is a subset of these channels that focus on the history, culture, and lore of speedrunning. They could be considered the historians of the genre.

Where: The United States is home to the largest number of channels in this community with over 100 channels calling the U.S. home. It is also the country with, by far, the greatest viewership of videos from this community. More than 45 countries are represented by channels within this community, with the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Australia rounding out the top five countries with the greatest number of Speedrunning community channels.

By The Numbers

  • There are more than 400 channels in the Speedrunning community
  • In 2021, there were more than 1.2 billion views of videos uploaded by channels in this Speedrunning community

Views of Speedrunning community videos more than doubled in 2021

Annual views of videos uploaded by channels in the speedrunning community.

Views of Speedrunning community videos more than doubled in 2021

Source: YouTube Data, Global, 2017 - 2022.

  • In 2021, uploads of videos by channels in the Speedrunning community were over 30% higher than the year before.

The Speedrunning community’s 50 most uploaded games

Quantity of video game-related uploads by channels in the Speedrunning community

The Speedrunning community’s 50 most uploaded games

Source: YouTube Data, Global, 2022.

Popular Channels

EasySpeezy (>2M subscribers): EasySpeezy has accumulated over 2 million subscribers by taking a casual approach to speedrunning. Instead of pushing himself to the limit to speedrun classic speedrunning games where milliseconds mean the difference between records broken or spirits broken, EasySpeezy speedruns casual, nontraditional games.

DarkViperAU (>1M subscribers): DarkViperAU began uploading videos in 2016, and this channel focuses primarily on Grand Theft Auto V. Among DarkViperAU’s multiple content series are his “How the Speedrun Ended” series and “A Speedrunner Rambles” series, a podcast style show where he comments on things happening across YouTube and in the gaming industry.

Karl Jobst (>700K subscribers): Karl Jobst is a speedrunning historian who has documented and commented on speedrunning cheats, impressive runs, and more in the form of video essays since 2017. He’s known for his characteristic intro — “Hello, you absolute legends.”

ProfessorBiggy (>650K subscribers): ProfessorBiggy only started his channel in summer 2020 but has quickly become one of the most subscribed creators in the speedrunning community. This rise is likely due to his ability to tap into the Dream SMP fandom — posting his own roleplaying re-creations of Dream’s Minecraft Speedrunner series — as well as his more recent videos that imagine what Minecraft speedruns would look like if they were done by top creators such as MrBeast and Mumbo Jumbo.

HeyRosalinaSpeedruns (>500K subscribers): Creator Rosalina is interesting for a couple of reasons: HeyRosalinaSpeedruns primarily uploads Shorts, and her speedruns are of games within Roblox.

Content

Speedrunning Gameplay: These videos form the basis of the Speedrunning community, and typically feature either a small face cam alongside gameplay (so you can watch the creator as they complete the run) or simply a screen of the gameplay. While these videos are not unique to YouTube — many live streams take place on Twitch and VODs are posted there, too — they are an important part of the community’s presence and are often used as clips in content from other creators in the speedrunning community (analysis, reactions, etc.).

There are three main types of speedruns, which are often denoted in a video’s title:

  • Any% - getting from start to finish of a game as quickly as possible (no requirements/limitations in place)
  • 100% - getting from start to finish of a game while unlocking everything/acquiring all items (i.e. not skipping any steps)
  • Tool-assisted (TAS) - the use of additional hardware/software to finish a game as quickly as possible, in ways that would be infeasible for any regular player

In addition to straight run-throughs of a game or part of a game, creators also attempt more unique speedrunning challenges that show the creative possibilities of the format. One of the best examples of this in recent years is Dream’s Minecraft Speedrunner vs. Hunter series, which has been riffed on and adapted by other creators.

Speedrunning analysis and commentary: Aside from gameplay, analysis and commentary videos make up the majority of content from the Speedrunning community. This is also the content that is most endemic to YouTube — through these videos it is not just the players who get to be a part of the community, but also the fans, whose roundups, historical essays, and highlights establish speedrunning’s cultural significance and broaden its appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. While it can be hard to understand what is happening in a speedrun if you are unfamiliar with the game, these videos lower the barrier to entry by explaining the strategies and moves that are unfolding onscreen, increasing accessibility and entertainment value. In some cases, speedrunners like EZScape have started secondary channels dedicated to providing this commentary, demonstrating their recognition of the content’s value.

World record progression and speedrunning documentaries: Speedrunning historians like Karl Jobst are among the community’s most important members, producing videos that document present-day achievements in the community as well as the evolution of speedrunning successes within different games. World Record Progression videos, a phrase that originated with historian Summoning Salt, and has been adapted by others, show how specific world records have been broken (and broken again) over the years.

Top fives and highlight reels: These listicle style roundups of speedrunning moments allow casual fans to explore the world of speedrunning without devoting time to a multi-hour stream. At the same time, dedicated viewers can relive the moments that resonated with them.

Cheating controversies: Within the Speedrunning community there is interest in players who have faked their runs, finding ways to make it look as though they are beating a record when, in reality, their strategy is manufactured. This often involves “splicing” footage together from a series of different attempts to imply it was achieved in a single run. The videos can take the form of both roundups and historical breakdowns.

Beyond gaming: One of the top channels in YouTube’s speedrunning community is not a gaming channel at all — it is I am MoBo. I am MoBo applies the concept of speedrunning (completing a task in the shortest time possible) to comedic sketches. This shows the mainstreaming of speedrunning, but also a trend we have seen elsewhere: The application of gaming concepts to content with more general audience appeal. Gaming language is the language of the internet and viewers are increasingly fluent in it, something that has been demonstrated by creators speedrunning everything from Duolingo to Wikipedia.

Popular Videos

The Greatest Super Mario Bros Speedrun Ever Just Happened - Karl Jobst

Karl Jobst’s video is an example of the way creators act as historians of the Speedrunning community. This video was uploaded in 2021 following a record-breaking Mario speedrun.

I tried speedrunning Temple Run and became emotionally scarred - EasySpeezy

EasySpeezy’s speedrun of a popular mobile game has been viewed over 5 million times. Temple Run is one of the most-viewed games related to speedrunning in India.

How Speedrunners beat Mario Odyssey without Cappy (almost) - LowestPercent

LowestPercent’s video is an excellent example of a type of speedrunning video that covers player strategies and world record progression.

Getting Free Food Speedrun (11.18 seconds) - I am MoOBo

2021’s most-viewed video related to speedrunning is not a video that features gameplay. Instead, it is the Short uploaded by I am MoBo, a creator who creates comedic Shorts based on the speedrun concept. The popularity of I am MoBo’s videos illustrates how the concept of speedrunning has gone mainstream.

Watch this video for more on speedrunning