Speedrunning in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is one of the many unique niches within speedrunning. It has its own complications and its own wonderful quirks, which we're going to explore now.

By Cam "Meta" Enright

Filed Under: community

You’ve probably heard of virtual reality before, and if you’re reading this right now I’d be pretty surprised if you hadn’t heard of speedrunning before. However… have you ever watched a speedrun of a virtual reality game before? This niche within an already niche hobby is incredibly captivating. VR speedruns blend the digital and physical worlds, pushing the limits of speedrunners’ bodies and minds as they attempt to complete a game as fast as they possibly can within a medium that can sometimes be very physically demanding.

What makes VR speedruns unique... and challenging

Virtual reality as a platform is still in its infancy, and developers are still figuring out the best practices for their games. For us as speedrunners, this can lead to a lot of very interesting opportunities. The main quirk I can think of about VR games specifically is how the game deals with the player and the world surrounding them. Most of the time, the player can control the in-game character with both the controllers AND their real-life body. This leads to some interesting techniques to get out of bounds in games like Half-Life: Alyx and DOOM VFR. In my personal VR speedgame of choice, DOOM VFR, moving your real -life body does not move the in-game character. However, it DOES move the player camera, which can still hit checkpoints and end-level triggers, leading to incredibly powerful skips. For instance, skipping an entire level where the level exit is in the same room that you start in by just.. dancing through the final door.

Take that, level designers. ;)

This does lead to some interesting challenges in moderation, which is echoed throughout many VR speedgames. Because of the player’s real-life body being used in speedruns, things like the player’s height, limb length, and even size of play space can significantly affect the ability to perform skips.

Thankfully, there’s no one with infinitely sized limbs or an infinitely large play area otherwise it would truly be a moderation nightmare. Although, we’ll need to see what happens in the future as VR speedrunning grows in terms of moderation approaches to this physical medium, considering competitive fairness and even accessibility for runners. For now, nothing concrete has been agreed upon to solve this, and so there’s more of a “gentleman’s agreement” of sorts in place to make sure everyone knows not to go to do runs inside of a stadium or something.

What kind of “physically-based” tricks can be done?

In the case of Half-Life: Alyx for instance, there’s a trick called “Height Adjust” which can be much easier if you’re tall or have long arms. Or, as another example, there’s another trick called “Extended Jump” in which if you had a gigantic play area you could likely skip giant sections of levels by just sprinting forward.

We shall call thee… SPRINTRUNNING! Surely it couldn’t be called anything else.

It’s pretty dope to watch

If you’ve never seen a VR speedrun done with a webcam present before, I HIGHLY recommend it. Watching a speedrunner crawling on the floor, lunging back and forth, jumping, and sprinting in order to perform skips in the game world is truly a treat you don’t wanna miss. If I’m gonna out myself here, it can sometimes look kinda funny. For instance, this time I demonstrated Switch Walking on Twitter

Most of the time though, it’s just really impressive to watch. If you haven’t seen it before, I cannot recommend enough that you watch nwata1122’s speedrun of Ring Fit Adventure 100% Intensity 30 Intended, pictured above.

Wrapping Up

There are a lot of super cool VR speedgames, and if you have the means to do so, I HIGHLY recommend giving it a try. If not, thankfully there’s an entire community of speedrunners making speedy VR Twitch and YouTube content. Also, a very large portion of these runners gather in a single Discord, which I highly recommend you join. It’s full of a lot of dope people who helped me with research for this article.

Virtual Reality speedrunning is exceptionally unique, and I’m excited to see where it goes in the upcoming years.

Pictured in the header graphic is Buffet_Time from his 37:56 Half-Life: Alyx Inbounds speedrun.

Prioritizing Entertainment in Speedrunning

When games don't provide what speedrunners are looking for, sometimes it's up to the community to step up to make the changes for themselves.

Spotlight: Team Ico Speedruns

This month, we're featuring a community of speedrunners who focus on games from developer Team Ico.

Site performance improvements, bug fixes, and more!

Checking in this week to follow up on the data migration earlier this month, some bug fixes, and more from our new Community Manager!

Community Update: Data Migration and Community Manager

We've updated the site as part of addressing some of the performance issues; we also say farewell to Lewisandspark and welcome Meta in a new role.

Kanno breaks the Super Mario 64 6:30 Barrier

Kanno made history by breaking the 6:30 barrier in Super Mario 64. Let's take a look at how this impressive feat was possible.

Highlights from the end of ESA Summer 2021

ESA Summer 2021 wrapped up successfully, having collected more than $67,000 for charity. Let's take a look at some of the highlights in the final days of the event.

ESA Summer 2021 early highlights

ESA Summer 2021 has already featured some pretty incredible speedruns. We've selected some highlights here, covering the first half of the event.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 7-minute barrier broken

On July 22, 2021, Savestate broke the 7-minute barrier for the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Any% speedrun.

Runs at ESA Summer 2021 you don’t want to miss

ESA Summer 2021 gets underway on July 23. We've compiled a list of can't-miss speedruns from the week-long event that are sure to delight fans!

Insight into the mind of catalystz

Who is catalystz? He produces educational speedrunning content as well as being one of the world's best Dark Souls players. Check out our interview with this skilled speedrunning content creator!

Spotlight: FrozenFlygone

FrozenFlygone is a Celeste speedrunner who recently performed runs at SGDQ and Power Up With Pride. We spoke with her about speedrunning for our July Spotlight.

Final SGDQ 2021 Highlights

With SGDQ 2021 a wrap, we're taking one last opportunity to highlight some of our favorite events from the week-long speedrunning event.

Mid-week highlights for SGDQ 2021

Now midway through the event, SGDQ 2021 continues to deliver with memorable speedruns. Let's take a look at the highlights from the last couple of days.

Check if your runs are at risk due to a YouTube policy change

On July 23rd, your runs may become unavailable on Speedrun.com due to a YouTube policy change.

Early highlights from SGDQ 2021

Summer Games Done Quick 2021 got underway July 4 and runs through July 11. We've compiled some early highlights from the first three days of the event. Let's take a look!

How Dead Space Speedrunners cut their runs in half

Ahead of Dead Space's debut at SGDQ, let's take a look at the tech that allowed speedrunners to reduce their run times by half.

Glitch Hunting: What is it and how do you do it?

Glitch Hunting is an important activity within speedrunning — but what is it, *exactly*? And how can you get started?

Pride Month Speedrunners Spotlight

For Pride Month, we spoke with three talented LGBTQIA+ streamers about their experiences with speedrunning.

E3 2021: 8 Indie Titles for Speedrunners

E3 2021 introduced us to many intriguing new games. Today, we're taking a look at eight Indie titles that look promising for speedruns.

Lifeslide: speedrunning as a paper plane

An indie title that was on display at E3, Lifeslide's simple concept supports both a zen gameplay experience and a challenging speedrun opportunity.

Coming soon: Severed Steel, an FPS for speedrunners

Sitting down with the developer of Severed Steel, we learned how this game is built for speedrunning.

E3 2021: Top 8 AAA titles for speedrunners

E3 loaded up our wishlists with AAA titles full of speedrunning potential, including Elden Ring and Dying Light 2, among others! Here are some highlights expected to be released in 2021 and 2022.

How DOOM speedrunners skip the Praetor Suit

The Praetor Suit and accompanying cutscene were one of the last major slow points to overcome for DOOM speedrunning. This is the story of how it was solved.

Power Up With Pride, an Un-BEE-lievable Hit

Power Up With Pride 2021 was a success with plenty of entertaining speedruns, including new World Records, and an incredibly wholesome Community Segment.

Days Gone: speedrunning a game port

A PC port for Days Gone was recently released. Let's take a look at what impact a port has on the game's speedrunning community.

Power Up With Pride 2021: 5 years strong

Look no farther for a good way to spend the first weekend of June: Power Up With Pride kicks off the month with a charity speedrunning marathon.

Speedrun Embargoes

Have you ever been excited to speedrun a new game but discovered there's an embargo on speedruns? Let's talk about embargoes, what they mean, and how they can be helpful!

SGDQ's schedule has a speedrun for everyone

With a packed schedule, SGDQ is coming to our screens July 4-10. We've picked a few highlights, but you cannot go wrong watching any of these awesome speedruns.

1 2