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Awesome Games Done Quick’s adorable dog speedrun was just the start

Awesome Games Done Quick’s adorable dog speedrun was just the start

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A Shiba Inu named Peanut Butter just became the first dog to ever speedrun a game at the charity speedrunning event.

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Photo of Peanut Butter, a Shiba Inu, standing with his paw on a custom video game controller made up of blue, red, yellow, and green button pads.
Photo: JSR_

Though Awesome Games Done Quick will go on for the rest of the week, the charity speedrunning event may have already peaked with a run performed by Peanut Butter... a Shiba Inu.

Using a custom-made controller and spurred by commands and treats, Peanut Butter button-pressed his way into our hearts and the speedrunning history books with his run of Gyromite in the first-ever speedrun done by a dog. Gyromite is a game where the player guides a sleepwalking scientist through his lab by pressing buttons to raise or lower colored pillars in the scientist’s way. To successfully complete a level, players must not get squished by releasing a pillar too soon and avoid monsters called “smicks” that can kill the player in one hit.

For the run, Peanut Butter pressed either a red, yellow, or blue button pad to control the pillars, rewarded with treats of ham, kibble, and cheese. JSR, Peanut Butter’s human and himself a speedrunner, said that he’d been working with Peanut Butter for more than a year, teaching him the commands as well as training him to have the patience and attention required to complete the run.

For the first half of the run, Peanut Butter was on world record pace, despite some human error hiccups where JSR mistakenly gave Peanut Butter (also known as PB, which, in speedrunning parlance, means “personal best”) the wrong commands.

In the chaotic environment of live speedrunning, runners often can’t account for when a game’s randomness (known colloquially as RNG, or “random number generator”) with enemy spawns, pathing, or attack patterns will throw them a curveball. This happens so often at GDQ events that the phrase “That’s never happened before” has become a meme signifying all the little ways a run can go sour. Though PB was indeed on world record pace, his run was thwarted at the last second by an enemy smick waiting for him at the finish line, prompting JSR to say the old phrase, “That’s never happened before.” PB’s lost WR (world record) didn’t matter to his 70,000 viewers on Twitch, who cheered him on for a successful run anyway.

As with all Awesome Games Done Quick events, funds raised will go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation — a nonprofit dedicated to cancer research and early detection initiatives all over the world. Last year, AGDQ raised $2.6 million, while its summer sibling, Summer Games Done Quick, raised $2.2 million for Doctors Without Borders.

With four more days left in the weeklong marathon, there’s still a lot more to look forward to. There’s a Hades run later today. On Friday, there’s a relay race of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and of course, I’m looking forward to the Baldur’s Gate 3 run late on Saturday. Part of the fun of GDQ is just running the marathon in the background and looking up at odd hours of the day to see people with alien sunglasses running an obscure platformer from the Sega 32X. I encourage viewers to check out the schedule and go beyond the big-name games to watch runs of games you’ve never heard of before. That’s where the hidden gems are.

There have been a lot of weird runs throughout Games Done Quick’s 10-plus-year history. There was a Celeste run where the runner used a dance pad instead of a controller, numerous two-player one-controller runs, one-handed runs, and blindfolded runs galore. But Peanut Butter’s run of Gyromite is not only the best of those odd runs but also a perfect example of why Games Done Quick continues to be one of the best video game events of the year.

Watch Games Done Quick on Twitch here, and if you miss any runs, check out YouTube for VODs. Also, The Verge will be on-site this weekend to cover the event live, so stay tuned for some intrepid on-the-scene reporting from yours truly.

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