News Article

World Record Speed Runner Just Can't Stop Playing Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

Posted by Mark Green

Playing games to destruction

Everyone has their own reasons for playing games. Some play for entertainment, others for pure escapism, but for Cosmo Wright games are a sport. Not just any sport, but an athletic one: the sport of Speed Running. From the moment the game kicks off, he’s racing against the clock to get from the title screen to the end credits as quickly as possible, exploiting glitches and bugs along the way and resetting the moment something goes awry. Years of dedication, research and practise go into any speed runner’s work, and when one game is done they move on and conquer other games, but for Wright, he just keeps coming back to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Despite growing up with the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, Ocarina of Time became part of Wright’s childhood when he got it bundled with an N64 one Christmas. The art of speed running was only just beginning at the time, and the young Wright wasn't interested in such a thing when he was growing up — but in 2006 he took to Speed Demo’s Archive forums and began to investigate the growing trend, along with tricks and tips on how to use a game’s flaws to turn hours of gameplay into minutes.

Wright didn't dedicate himself to speed running entirely for a long time. Instead, he simply spent time exploring and experimenting with the glitches he had read about. But, like most hobbies, Wright soon became enthralled in the nature of the pastime, and what had started as a bit of fun soon transformed into a personal competition to achieve the best and fastest times. It seems that Ocarina of Time was one of his most favoured titles to run through and so hours of trial, error and patience were spent mastering every break in the game’s code.

Eventually, in August 2013 — upon utilising a number of glitches that saw him teleport through walls and even leapfrog over all events in the game to reach the final battle — Wright managed to beat the Zelda title in nineteen minutes and fifteen seconds, setting a new world record in the process.

Such efficient skills have earned him praise enough, but Wright has done more than just played for the thrill of it — he has also attended charity drives centred around speed running in order to demonstrate his skills to raise money. His January 2013 run of Ocarina of Time has amassed almost one million views at the time of writing, and together with his fellow speed runners in the Awesome Games Done Quick charity event, he raised over $700,000.

It’s truly great to see someone’s passion and love for gaming – or just one game – turn and grow into something that can help and give people so much. Some may say that playing games in such a way ruins a player’s chance of enjoyment — or that playing them in a way that was not intended isn't really playing them at all — but even so, if speed running gives back to others, who are we to question it?

It doesn't look like Wright will be putting his N64 controller down any time soon, as in December 2013 another speed runner bested his world record time by ten seconds. In such a competitive sport – and with such a popular game - you can’t be on top forever. Still, play-through number 300,001 shouldn't take too long, right?

[via polygon.com]

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User Comments (25)

Zorkthedork

#4

Zorkthedork said:

Been following Cosmo for almost 2 years now, and other speedrunners, I know lots of people here dislike speedrunning because they don't quite get the whole thing about it, but AGDQ 2014 shows how great the speedrunning and gaming community are.

RupeeClock

#5

RupeeClock said:

Ironically, Cosmo isn't running Ocarina of Time for this year's AGDQ marathon, he's just commentating.

KeyMastar

#8

KeyMastar said:

@rjejr
"Sport: n.a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other."

They physically manipulate the controller, there are specific sets of rules and there is competition. Seems like a fit to me.

Royalblues

#10

Royalblues said:

I feel strongly about video games too, but never in my right mind would I call playing games, no matter how high the level, engaging in an athletic sport. Especially when I see real athletes, and the physical training they have to endure, and the abuse their bodies - not just their minds but their bodies - have to go through.

WinterWarm

#11

WinterWarm said:

@Royalblues

Well, let me be clear:

There's a difference between an athletic sport and just a sport.

For instance: Baseball is an athletic sport.

Speedrunning simply qualifies because there is at least some PHYSICAL activity. Moving your hands to compete does, in the strictest sense, qualify as a sport, just not an athletic one.

In addition, words have changed since the first Olympics in 1802( or at least, I think that was the first Olympics), I mean, texting slang is being added to more and more dictionaries that have been around since the 19th century( like the Websters Dictionary).

So, in conclusion, in a world where 'twerk' has been added to dictionaries, I think it's only fair to allow leeway as to what is called a 'sport', especially since it may not be an athletic sport.

Royalblues

#12

Royalblues said:

@DeathlyDarkness Aww man. If 'twerk' is in the dictionary, then we do live in a sad world. One more thing before I go. If moving your fingers qualifies as an athletic sport(granted, there is some hand-eye coordination to consider) then TV stations should televise and sponsor competitive dishwashing, since there are many factors and patterns to consider when washing dishes.
Hell, I'd watch it, probably. No, I wouldn't.
Either way, that would be insulting to Boxers, Basketball players, Football players (American Football), wrestlers, and other athletes who've injured themselves beyond the point of return to gave a PC gamer with carpal tunnel syndrome walk up to him or her and say that he was an athlete. There is real risk to that stuff.

AK-1138

#13

AK-1138 said:

This sort of game "playing" seems more like an unhealthy obsession than anything else. Raise him some money for psychological help, instead.

rjejr

#14

rjejr said:

People who use the word "sport" to describe most video game playing - I'ld actually argue in favor of Wii Sports and similar Kinect games, in the future almost all sporting events will involve virtual equipment - simply lack the desire to type out "competition". I know it's a fine line, and the edges of those lines get blurry around pool/snooker, darts, golf for some people, cheer leading (I went to the University of Kentucky, cheer leading was very big competitive sporting event there) as well as dancing. But I'ld argue for all of them before video game playing. It's just too mental, like chess or backgammon or poker or Boggle (I'm a big King of the Hill fan). If it can be played against a computer using voice commands, a keyboard and mouse, then it probably isn't a sport, it's a game. Games can have tournaments and competitions, but that doesn't make them sports. I know that would probably get me killed in South Korea, but I don't see those guys as athletes any more than the challengers on X Factor are athletes. You can be a very talented video game player, a virtuoso musician or idiot savant card shark, but I'm not calling any of their competitions a "sporting event" and I'm not calling any of their champions an athlete (unless it's a virtual actual sport). "Athletic sport" is redundant.

Lunapplebloom

#16

Lunapplebloom said:

Can't say I blame him if it floats his boat. Some games you just never really get tired of and want to go back again and again, though my reasons is just for fun, and not speed runs.

Some of my all time favorites to revisit every so often is Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, and Super Mario 64. Both hold a special place in my gaming life, and I know almost every nook and cranny of them.

Williaint

#17

Williaint said:

I wouldn't call it a sport... it's competition, but not sport. When you are doing similar movements, over and over... it's more like playing music.

@rjejr before long, people won't even need to speak, in order to type ...

The only reason I disagree with speed-running through glitches is that you aren't playing the real game, and following the real rules. At the same time, since there ARE glitches there, it seems reasonable. It's like freedom of speech.... Since he was using the iQue, however, any true speed competition, in "this sport", against him would need to be using the iQue as well.

Franklin

#20

Franklin said:

Seems a little sad to me. Playing arcade games to obsession and competing for times makes a certain sense, but Ocarina of Time is supposed to be an experience.

Zorkthedork

#21

Zorkthedork said:

@Red3025 You're implying that they never beat it before or played it blinded, most people who speedrun a game is because they have played it to death before hand and wanted to take it further.

JayceJa

#22

JayceJa said:

N64 controller? cosmo uses the ique controller; 13 seconds on any any % run is pretty big

Marioman64

#24

Marioman64 said:

blah, my favorite one is still the one where he uses the chicken to cross the gerudo bridge as a kid, and then triggers the scene with shiek in the spirit temple WHILE A KID. the game freaks out and link starts bouncing up and down its hilarious

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