Five Women Who Slaughter Speedrun Records
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of browsing the “Speedrun” tag on Twitch or stumbling upon a speedrunning video, you may have seen some…interesting gameplay. Perhaps you’ve caught Nathan Drake walking on air in Uncharted 2 or marveled at Faith Connors phasing through walls in Mirror’s Edge. It can be a wild ride to see someone beat your favorite game in the time it took you to finish the tutorial. If you’ve never experienced a speedrun, the premise is fairly self-explanatory: the goal is to complete a game or specific part of a game with the fastest time possible. Runners for any game imaginable can submit their times to online leaderboards in an attempt to be the fastest in the world.
The concept of “going really fast” in video games obviously isn’t new. Some of the earliest games that implemented in-game timers were Dragster, Metroid: Return of Samus, and Super Mario Kart. Both Nintendo Power and Activision even had sections of their publication dedicated to players submitting their fastest times or highest scores. It wasn’t until the release of id Software’s Doom in 1993 that a formal competitive avenue for speedrunning arose. With the ability to save gameplay demos, people could now upload and compare runs from all over the world. Since then, online leaderboards for every game imaginable have been created to track global records and test just how quickly players can complete a game.
Despite the naturally competitive nature of speedrunning, the community as a whole is incredibly collaborative and diverse. Games will often have their own discord dedicated to speedrunning where people can share strategies and optimized routes. And it isn’t just for your typical AAA titles; many indie games have incredibly passionate and dedicated running communities where even the developers can get involved.
Recognition of speedrunning has picked up a lot of, well, speed in the past decade which is largely thanks to livestreamed charity marathons such as Awesome Games Done Quick and Summer Games Done Quick. And with this increased popularity comes an increase in runner diversity. Historically, video games have been marketed to a male audience. Originally sold as a family activity, the video game crash of 1983 forced a reevaluation of video game marketing that targeted boys and sexualized women. This tactic created a general consensus among consumers that girls didn’t find video games interesting or fun in the way that boys did. While we now recognize that this isn’t true, the gender disparity in the gaming industry is still something we’re working to equalize today. The wonderful thing about speedrunning is that anyone can participate and learn to play games fast. There are tons of women and non-binary runners who are crushing leaderboards and leading speedrunning communities, especially within the horror genre. So in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring five women speedrunners who have been slaughtering speedrun records within the horror community.
If asked to name a woman within the horror speedrunning community, Katlink would be one of the first that comes to mind. Kat came onto the speedrunning scene in 2017, fairly early in her streaming career. While looking for a direction to steer her content, she discovered speedrunning and liked the appeal of friendly competition. She wanted to start with an easy game to learn and landed on Outlast 2, which had fairly simple routing and minimal tricks to perform. It wasn’t long before she took to learning Silent Hill 2 and her current favorite game to run, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
Since starting her speedrunning journey only a few years ago, Kat has collected her fair share of records, currently holding the world records for two different RE7 categories. “[The] mix of menuing, movement, boss fights and tricks are something I absolutely love about the game. I’ve made lots of friends including my 2 best friends Marphoria and Captain_Ezekiel who are greatly talented at the game, supportive, and help the community a ton. Which honestly is the biggest reason I stuck around for so long.” Katlink has been able to showcase her speed skills both at Summer Games Done Quick 2021 as well as GDQ’s weekly Hotfix show, Speedruns from the Crypt. As of late, Katlink has been taking a breather from running and focusing mostly on streaming Soulsborne games but you can still catch her running Resident Evil and other spooky games from time to time over on Twitch.
You may have guessed it from her name: RebeccaRE loves Resident Evil and she’s been speedrunning horror games since 2014. Rebecca is a Chilean runner who attributes her love of horror to her mother who introduced her to horror movies before discovering survival horror games on her own. The first horror game she ever played was Resident Evil 2 on the Nintendo 64 which left a lasting impression. Taking inspiration from fellow runner and friend Fiercekyo, she started running the game and has since gathered an impressive list of world records in multiple categories. These aren’t particularly easy categories, either. “My favorite categories are Any% and Knife Only, respectively,” Rebecca said. “Any% for being the category that is played the most and the one that can be best optimized and Knife Only because I really like challenges!” What does the “Knife Only” entail? You may have guessed it: players blast through the game with no other weapon besides the knife. Getting through even a casual playthrough like this is not a challenge for the faint of heart. And Rebecca can do it in just over an hour.
RebeccaRE isn’t just running old horror games though. Just a few months ago, Rebecca had her first opportunity to run at Awesome Games Done Quick with the 2021 release of Tormented Souls. After 8 years of speedrunning, she remarks that running on the GDQ mainstage was “one of the happiest days of my life.” Not only was she showcasing her skills in front of thousands of viewers, but she also got to represent a game from her home country with her friend KaneBlueriver who performed commentary for her run. “People loved the run and that made me happy also. Shoutouts to the developers for donating and sending tons of love during the run!”
Don’t let the pink and purple aesthetic fool you: NicholeGoodnight is here for the horror. In fact, her name might be familiar to those who enjoy The NoSleep Podcast, an audio show featuring original short horror stories set with music and spooky sound design. Nichole has been sending chills up the spines of listeners since 2014 with NoSleep as well as SCP Archives and her own podcast, Insidious Inspirations.
She discovered a love for speedrunning after attending her first Games Done Quick Event in 2019. She didn’t start out speedrunning horror though. Her first fast game was actually The Lion King for the Super Nintendo, a punishing game that many of us remember quitting after the first few levels. Her preferred game these days may be something in which you least expect speed: Phasmophobia. Yes, even Phasmophobia with all of its ghostly RNG has an active speedrunning community. Nichole currently holds three world records in Phasmophobia duos with Bathinjan and one world record in trios. So not only does she hunt ghosts quickly, she does it while coordinating with other people. “We just have a lot of fun playing it together and it really brings a level of fun to the speedrun. Phasmophobia is essentially entirely RNG so having a friend really helps break up how tedious it is!” NicholeGoodnight says she has more speedruns on the horizon, hinting that Airdorf’s FAITH may be her next victim.
If you thought that speedrunning was reserved for AAA titles, Vynnada is here to change your mind. While she does run more mainstream games such as Silent Hill 3 and Devil May Cry, she’s probably best known for her indie horror runs. Vynn has recently been on the main stage at both Summer Games Done Quick 2021 and Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 to show off FAITH and FAITH: Chapter II by indie developer Airdorf. She currently holds 2nd place in the world for FAITH: Chapter II Any% – Ending 1 and holds 3rd place in the remaining categories. Vynnada says that her favorite thing about running that specific game and category is because it’s “pure chaos” and has the longest routing with the best cutscenes.
Despite having at least twenty different games under her speedrunning belt, Vynn has only been running for a little over a year, citing her start in February 2021 with Valis: The Phantasm Soldier. So what draws her to indie horror? “I have a soft spot for things relating to the occult as it is a topic of interest. The Satanic panic which FAITH covers mixed with its own unique formula really drew me toward playing and eventually running it. When games have a creator who cares a lot about their project, it is very easy to fall in love with their passion and expression. This is something which I’ve thankfully often found with indie developers.” With Vynnada’s competitive drive and love for horror games, you’re sure to see her breaking more records in the future.
It’s hard not to share Marphoria’s enthusiasm when it comes to speedrunning. The self-described “smiley goon” has been lighting up the speedrun scene since 2018 with her Resident Evil speedruns. Comically, Marphoria had first played Resident Evil 7 after some friendly peer pressure from her Twitch chat. “I initially didn’t want to AT ALL since I’m already afraid of horror games, let alone first-person ones. But I powered through and at the end, I felt very accomplished. That was right around the time Carcinogen ran RE7 at AGDQ 2018 and I told myself, ‘You know what? I’ve been watching speedruns for years. And this game I just played scared the hell out of me, but I want to see if I can beat it faster’”. It was that determination to conquer her fears that led her to climbing the ranks not just in RE7 but several other Resident Evil games as well.
Marphoria says it’s that fear that keeps her coming back for more. “Streaming on Twitch gave me a sense of accountability with finishing the horror games I liked. If I enjoyed my first playthrough, I would learn the speedrun. I’d be like, ‘I just spent 10+ hours lurking every corner, screaming and terrified, and now I’m running through the entire game without batting an eye!’ It’s just a neat sense of accomplishment.” Mar’s dedication to Resident Evil has recently earned her a place in the Capcom Creators Program which works to support content creators within Capcom’s community.
If you’re at all interested in speedrunning, this is the prime time to start! Many communities are in the process of expanding as charity marathons become more prevalent and bring exposure to a variety of games. “My advice for anyone looking into speedrunning is to find something you know you’re going to enjoy for a long time, maybe a favorite childhood game or something you enjoyed recently, but also to try anything you might find interesting, because you never know if you might find your new favorite speed game,” says Katlink. Marphoria also offered advice for interested runners. “I encourage any new members of a speedgame to join the community’s Discord. That’s the best place to ask questions and learn strats. It’s also a wonderful place for support and camaraderie. Everyone is always cheering each other on and it’s like we’re all celebrating together when one of us gets a PB or WR. It’s one of the best hobbies I’ve ever gotten into, and I highly recommend it to everyone!”
The best part is that speedrunning is for everyone. You don’t need to fit a certain stereotype or be at the top of the leaderboard to call yourself a speedrunner and enjoy the community. Speaking from personal experience, it’s a wonderful way to make friends. A huge thank you to these five runners for their insight; you can catch all of them streaming on Twitch! And if you’re interested in seeing more fast fatales, consider checking out two of Games Done Quick’s all-female charity events: Frost Fatales in the winter and Flame Fatales in the summer. You can find the details for those and all of GDQ’s events at GamesDoneQuick.com.
For more articles about horror games and the communities around them, check out DreadXP.