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AGDQ 2020 Should Inspire Event Planners to Embrace New Tech and Audiences

Speedrunning? It’s not parkour’s boring cousin.
It’s how the AGDQ gaming event pulls in millions for charity each year.

As event management experts, we’re always thinking about innovative event planning processes to keep up with the times. Back in 2018 we posted a little think piece about how live events can stay relevant in the digital era (click the link for a refresher). How did our conclusions stack up, were we right on the money and a savant-level mentalist prediction machine? Eh, kinda, but stay with us here. The major takeaways here are 1) that live events need to embrace new media technologies and data analytics in order to maintain relevance and know what’s working 2) that events need to connect with an audience and produce content they will love to share endlessly on social media, even long after the event is concluded. 

We thought it might be a great time to revisit the major themes of this article by providing an example of a live event that makes a killing through streaming services. And here’s the fun part – you can check it out from your phone or computer right now.

audience watching gamer

Photo by Brian, Provided by GDQ CC4.0

We’re talking about AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick). AGDQ is a yearly charity event that runs 24-hours a day for a full week (January 5th to 12th). The event is all about “speedrunning”, a practice by which gamers challenge themselves to complete a game as quickly as possible by working out optimal paths of movement, exploiting glitches to avoid huge portions of a game, and through a deep knowledge of the coding structure of the software itself. It’s mad cap. Check out the highlights from last year’s event. 

 audience

Photo by NotManda, Provided by GDQ CC4.0

While GDQ’s summer event is always held in Minneapolis, AGDQ has bounced around a bit. This year’s event is held at the illustrious Double Tree Hilton in Orlando, Florida. It’s like, right by Universal Studios. You know the one.

At each AGDQ, nearly 200 gamers, as representatives of game-specific speedrunning communities are invited to come in and perform speedruns in front of a live audience. Commentary and explanations of each speedrun’s tricks are supplied by additional experts on-site in real time. All the while, each run is streamed through Twitch and Youtube and viewers at home are invited to send donations for the event’s chosen charity (Prevent Cancer Foundation). It’s as much a thrill to watch the donation counter tick upwards throughout the week as it is to watch some guy smash Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom in 15 minutes on a Playstation 2. Really, you’d be surprised.

Sounds lame? Well guess what, during GDQ’s summer weeklong event SGDQ 2019 brought in just over 3 million dollars for Doctors Without Borders from over 51,000 donations. Since AGDQ began in 2010, they’ve raised 22.3 million dollars for charities. Let that sink in. They could’ve bought this sick yacht with a jacuzzi by now. 

People watching gamer

Photo by Arael, Provided by GDQ CC4.0

Gamers looking at screens

Photo by NotManda, Provided by GDQ CC4.0

 As you might imagine, holding TWO events like this each year is an incredible undertaking. Just think of what an absolute nightmare the scheduling is! Video submissions from gamers are collected months prior to the event. From there, event planners Mike Uyama and Kasumi Yogi aren’t just tasked with whittling through the submissions and choosing the best videos. Human error and even plain old bad luck on runs must be expected and taken into account. What if a speedrunner chokes and loses 3 minutes on their live run? Will it throw off the whole week? Keeping a non-stop event like this on schedule in spite of all the variables in play is an achievement. You can check out their scheduling and submission rules to see how they’ve handled this challenge.

gameboy

Photo by Arael, Provided by GDQ CC4.0

Events like AGDQ succeed because the organizers go through great lengths to make an event that accommodates and celebrates the eccentric skills and cultural milieus of its target audience. They’re embracing technologies and online platforms their communities are already using year-round to hone their skills. AGDQ provides a key service – it’s a meeting ground where otherwise separate, niche communities come together and get the rockstar treatment despite having an otherwise pretty unmarketable skill. The loyalty and sense of belonging it inspires translates into donations – participation in the community and event means kicking a few dollars to a charity to support your speedrunning comrades.

Keep these in mind while you set your event goals and reach out to the event management experts at Decibel Management – we’d love to partner with you to bring your event to the next level! 

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Check out the schedule to see when your favorite game is getting slayed:

https://gamesdonequick.com/schedule

Check out the action live here:

https://www.twitch.tv/gamesdonequick

Confused by the lingo? This glossary of speedrunning terms should help:

https://www.gamecrate.com/speedrunning-terminology-glossary/17892

Want to see how the internet is reacting to AGDQ? Hit up their subreddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AGDQ/

David Sonntag
david@decibelmanagement.com
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