What Makes Challenge Runs So Engaging?

What makes Challenge runs so engaging? The concept of adding self-imposed challenges to our favorite video games has been around for many years. Communities and competitive scenes have been created from these runs, offering another layer of depth to both old and new games.

What Makes Challenge Runs So Engaging?

Challenge runs are a fascinating concept. If you’ve browsed YouTube or Twitch long enough, you should know about speedruns and how big they are. Don’t forget the countless videos documenting if a game is possible with certain limitations. There’s no denying that challenge runs have been an integral part of gaming culture and its community. Let’s take a moment to discuss just what makes these runs so engaging and amazing. 

Making a Single-Player Competitive Scene

Challenge runs offer a competitive side to single-player titles. For example, speedrunners challenge each other in getting the best time completing a game from start to finish. Speedrunning is a classic challenge, dating back more than 20 years ago, with Quake offering a feature to let players record their runs and post them online in the 90s.

Countless communities centers around sharing strategies and competing for the best time. It’s become such a phenomenon that events are held for players to speedrun in front of an audience for charity. GamesDoneQuick (or GDQ for short) is one of those events. For years, games such as Super Mario 64 have been popular for competitive speedruns with strategies and techniques still being discovered to this day.

Super Mario 64 Blindfolded by Bubzia in 1:49:59 - Summer Games Done Quick 2021 Online

There are speedruns for many video games, utilizing many different rulesets and constantly testing the player’s abilities. It’s always surprising to learn which game has a speedrun category. Virtually most, if not all video games can have a speed run. Just search online to see if one of your favorite games has a category. If it’s not there, you could basically be the first one to do a speedrun of the game, making you #1 easily!

Adding Immense Replay value 

One of the best ways to replay a favorite title is through a self-imposed challenge run. It allows you to play the game in a refreshing light and discover new and interesting ways to complete them. In certain challenges, you’d come across mechanics that you barely took note of or cared for in normal playthroughs. Ironman runs in Fire Emblem forces players to make use of the permadeath feature and to continue playing through deaths and mistakes. These challenges are fairly difficult, and they test a player’s knowledge of the game, making them perfect for those who love replaying. The more you know and understand a game’s mechanics, the better you can complete the challenges.

Speedrunners already replay their game multiple times to practice and improve their time. In certain games like Pokémon, fans created the Nuzlocke challenge that makes the games extremely difficult. It makes use of Permadeath similar to Fire Emblem but with more self-imposed rules to make it more difficult. Nuzlockes became so popular that fans used the challenge as their preferred way of playing for first runs.

Nuzlocke Challenges are ideal for those replaying Pokémon.

Nuzlocke Challenges are ideal for those replaying Pokémon.

Impressive and Accessible Skill Levels

What truly makes challenge runs engaging is the skill that’s shown in these runs. There’s a reason why speedrunning is popular for content in streams and YouTube content. It takes an impressive amount of knowledge and skill to make use of the exploits. For many challenge runs, players have to know everything about the game. In certain runs, players must also have quick reflexes to pull off difficult moves. No Damage is an interesting type of challenge run, as I believe it takes the most skill in games. Series such as Mega Man and Devil May Cry being popular to no damage. 

In this type of challenge run, players need to study the enemy’s moment and attacks to properly evade and punish. It’s honestly more impressive than speedruns in certain cases. There’s just something amazing about watching someone being able to avoid taking damage in a difficult game that I struggle dying in multiple times. The flashy movements and seemingly impossible tech pulled off are very entertaining to watch. It’s the same feeling that spectators get from watching their favorite competitive esports scene. 

(SNES) Megaman X - 100% No Damage Completion Run


While they may seem daunting at first, challenge runs are very accessible. You don’t need to be a pro-gamer to become an expert at your favorite challenge runs. You simply need to pick up a game you enjoy and start replaying with a few self-imposed challenges. The best part is that you could even make your own challenges. They may be difficult at first, but there’s no greater feeling than completing one.

Conclusion: Community 

A common thread that ties all of these points together is the community that is formed from these challenge runs. The competitiveness creates many communities for fans of a particular game to discuss the many aspects of the game. Players learn from each other about new exploits or mechanics that go unnoticed in normal runs. Lastly, the accessibility of these runs allows for many people to come together to improve their skills and enjoy the game in a new way. That’s what makes the overwhelming variety of challenging runs so engaging.

(Videos by: Games Done Quick and X MaverickHunter)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>