History of Speedrun #1: Dragster! 1
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Human beings naturally want to compete. In fact, our brains, which are still full of primitive emotions, try to convince us that this is the right thing. For this reason, we support football teams madly, even we want a team to win in Survivor. The feeling of competition lies at the basis of the formation of this interesting concept we call “speedrun”. The pleasure of finishing a game in the “fastest” way makes us addicted to this interesting concept.

In our country, a very passionate “speedrun” community has formed in recent years. That’s why I wanted to take you on a journey through the history of the concept of speedrun. Because the history of this interesting term, which you have only just begun to hear, is at least as old as the history of the game. In these “guideline” articles, which I will divide into three parts, we will examine the most important corners of the speedrun world together. But first, we’re teleporting to 1980!

The Beginning of Everything

Dragster is a game that the older players among us will be familiar with. We know this game, which was developed by Activision of those times and can be played on Atari Video Computer System, as the name that started everything. Because for the first time in game history, players are encouraged to reach the fastest times on the box. What makes Dragster, which can be defined as a very simple drag race, very difficult is that it is completely reflex-oriented. In other words, in order to reach the fastest times, you need to give the right reactions in every frame that we will define as “frame” in the future. While each correct response speeds up your vehicle, wrong responses can slow you down and even cause you to explode.

History of Speedrun #1: Dragster! 2

The reason why the game suddenly created its own community is the instructions on the box we mentioned above. So Activision really encourages you to try it every time. Even in the box “Can you be faster?” It allows you not to drop the controller by using phrases such as: Of course, all the players embrace Dragster with the feeling of competition in them.

David Crane, the designer of Dragster, thought of a great idea to bring this community under one roof, and the World Class Dragster Driver club emerged. What you need to do to join this club is very simple: Complete the game in under 6 seconds. Players who send a photo of this to Activision can become members of the world’s first speedrun community.

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Cheaters: Since the 80’s!

Of course, Dragster has some very dark events in his past. He even caused one of the most heated debates in the game world in the past years. Todd Rogers, who was declared the “King of Dragster” by the Twin Galaxies, which was the summit of the speedrun mountain with a time of 5.51 seconds in 1982, lost his throne, which he protected for exactly 36 years, with a great controversy. Rogers, who was discovered to cheat thanks to developing technologies, lost his times and title in 2018.

In fact, Rogers’ claim is quite interesting. According to the claim of our “Dragster King”, he can shift into second gear as soon as the start is made. The story of our friend, who has been telling this tactic for years, changes after he meets a researcher named Eric “Omnigamer” Koziel. Omnigamer, a name we will talk about frequently in the future, is a computer engineer who graduated from MIT as well as being a speedrunner. Combining these two passions, Omnigamer is particularly devoted to the world of speedrun and the science behind it. This crazy actor has even written a book about it.

Here, Omnigamer ignites the debate when he is obsessed with this Dragster record that has not been broken for years. Koziel, who created one of the software called Tool Assisted Speedrun (TAS), which we will refer to frequently in the future, searches for the fastest possible time by loading specific reactions to all frames in the game. As a result of these tests, it was revealed that the upper limit of Dragster was 5.57 seconds. After an investigation by Omnigamer, Twin Galaxies and the Guinness Book of World Records removed all data about Todd Rogers from their systems.

What’s Next?

After this story, we will turn our eyes to a much more moving and bloody game. We’re going to take a closer look at Doom, the second corner of the speedrun world, a game that I’ve personally been a part of for years and that has changed the speedrun community.

By the way, I’m adding my Dragster record, which I could do with about an hour of effort, without forgetting. You can play the game online and join the Dragster club.

History of Speedrun #1: Dragster! 4

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