StreamMe Community Interview Series: The SpeedRunning Expo!
Hello, readers! This is JagoBlake, and welcome back to our StreamMe Community Interview Series! As promised, we have returned with a second guest for this month...or rather, guests as in plural!
Speedrunning enthusiasts will likely be aware of an event called the Speedrunning eXpo, which begins tomorrow in Ohio at the Columbus Marriott Northwest. Gamers will be able to participate in a large number of activities while raising funds for charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Essentially, the eXpo turns a recreational activity into a good cause.
When it came to my attention that the eXpo would be taking place this week, I decided to meet with a portion of their staff in order to gain some insight as to what we can expect from the eXpo, be it as a viewer or attendant. Four of the eXpo's staff instantly responded with an eagerness to sit down and have a discussion on the subject. As such, this article will feature the first official group interview for the StreamMe Community Series.
The four staff members featured in this discussion are Varin, Jo, stealinbread (see his interview here) and Raichu. Read on to see what they have to say!
JagoBlake: So to get started, what is the Speedrunning eXpo?
Varin: The Speedrunning eXpo is a bi-annual speedrunning marathon we hold supporting various charities. Lately we have supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) but in the past have supported the Wounded Warrior Project. We were founded in 2014, changing names along the way, and this upcoming Spring event is our 3rd Spring event as SRX.
Our marathon is held during a "Spring" season and "Fall" season, with Spring being an in person event and Fall usually being online. Both events are streamed online for people to view, and we upload the marathon to YouTube afterward.
JagoBlake: I see. So you say you were founded in 2014? Would you guys care to describe the circumstances that led to the creation of the group?
stealinbread: I'll take this one. I was just getting into speedrunning in the beginning of 2014, and I was watching this speedrun marathon called "AGDQ", which stands for Awesome Games Done Quick. As I got more and more into it, I wanted to start speedrunning myself. So I started streaming, and I had a small group of friends who were also just getting into the hobby.
We decided to collaborate our efforts and put on a 1 day marathon, in a similar vein as AGDQ, but a little more close to home. So we formed the "East Coast Speedrunning Marathon", which was the first marathon we held in September 2014. What was supposed to be a 1 day event turned into a 2 day event with both days containing 12 hours of speedruns, since so many people wanted to participate. It ended up being a success.
After that marathon, we ended up relocating the marathon. We had to rebrand the name since "East Coast" wasn't quite universal. After some brainstorming, we came up with SpeedRunning eXpo, and it has stuck ever since.
JagoBlake: So the Spring event is an in-person event whereas the Fall event is online, as I believe Varin pointed out. I'd like to hear exactly how the Fall event is organized online.
Varin: The event is usually held over a shorter period, 3 24-hour days, as to keep the hype going for an entire weekend. Generally a Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
We take submissions from people all over the world, compare time zones, and set up a schedule to have 72 straight hours of content. We stream it online, which the streams themselves are hosted by the staff members from our own homes. We have runners stream to a secondary account, or RTMP server at times, and capture their feed, onto our own recording, and stream that.
This past Fall event was actually in person, by popular demand. It didn't earn as much as Spring, but people really loved coming out. It had the same set up as Spring, but sticking with the Fall style of online runners, and schedule (3, 24-hour days). It was actually quite hard, so we're not sure we're going to do another in person Fall event, but we're really flexible in trying to get marathons together.
JagoBlake: So the in-person part of the event, is it usually held at a specific location, or does it change with each year? And for this year, where will the event take place?
Jo: It used to be held in Johnson City, TN every year but we're using Columbus Ohio this year and may continue to move around, depending on how this goes, in order to make SRX more accesible to people in other areas.
We have also discussed possibly hosting it at the Stream.me location in Texas in the future.
JagoBlake: And where specifically is the venue in Columbus located?
Varin: Columbus Marriott Northwest, 5605 Blazer Pkwy, Dublin, OH 43017.
JagoBlake: So as you all are organizing a speed-running event, it stands to reason that your involvement with gaming runs deep. So here's a question you all get to chime in on. Do you have any preferences for a franchise you do your speed runs for?
Raichu : Hi, I’m Raichu and I speedrun MGS.
Jo: I don't have a particular franchise preference but I speedrun Yoshi's Island and Donkey Kong Country 2.
Varin: I speedrun lots of games, my favorite RPG is Wild Arms 4, but my favorite platformer is Kirby's Dream Land. I have garbage times in both.
I was told I'm supposed to say Mega Man X4 but I'm really bad at it, but I guess that's another franchise I'm into, I run both X4 and X6.
stealinbread: I speedrun Metroid games, and very, very long RPGs such as Final Fantasy VII. I also have the World Record for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, at the time of this posting.
JagoBlake: Exactly what are your plans for this year's eXpo, aside from the main attraction of speedrunning, of course?
Varin: We're just a down to earth group of people, we like hanging out with the runners and racing them in games, playing party games, hanging out after hours.
We don't have any side attractions, officially, but we usually have an "anime night" where people hang out and watch anime. Sometimes we have mini fighting game matches and tournaments, people are bringing MTG and Yu-Gi-Oh cards this year.
And as always, we hope to raise more awareness for our charity pick, and earn more for them.
Jo: The event is mostly comprised of Speedrunning but there's a lot that goes on outside of what is seen on stream. There's an area that we set up to let people play games casually against one another and there are a lot of people who socialize after the event ends in their hotel rooms. We don't really condone crazy partying but we like to get everyone together to play fighting games when we aren't streaming.
stealinbread: At every event there's usually a lot of hanging out and camaraderie with your buds!
Varin : Yeah, like staff and attendees go out to dinner before and after the marathon, whoever is left, and sometimes we just break off into groups for activities.
stealinbread: At past events I've done a lot of teaching others how to speedrun certain games that I've done. There's a lot of young people that wanna get into it but don't exactly know how.
Varin: Backing that up.
JagoBlake: You mentioned that you speed-run to raise funds for charities. How did that come about? And if you are doing so again this year, for which charities are you raising funds for?
Jo: We are raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. When Stealinbread founded ECSM he had wanted to use the event as a way to benefit other people. That year they donated to the Wounded Warriors Project. We had talked about it the next year and decided that we should donate to a charity that was more universal for those over seas who wanted to participate and something closer to our hearts. We picked The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because of our personal ties to the illness.
stealinbread: Took the words right out of my mouth!
Varin: We just decided to raise money while having fun, nothing too complex to it.
We currently raise money for CFF (I mentioned them earlier) because Jo and I both have family who are affected by CFF and not a lot of people know about it. So we switched charities in 2016 and have stuck with them since. The choice of charity is personal, but the reason for taking donations and running is just something extra to doing what we already love doing.
Jo: Varin and I both have brothers who suffer from CF and I lost my sister a few years ago following her lung transplant. We've considered donating to other charities and may do so in the future, but CFF is a personal thing, really.
Varin: I've worked with them for things local to my hometown for years, they do really great work and I love volunteering for them. There are tons of people who benefit from the services and research they do.
JagoBlake: You mentioned the possibility of holding an event at the StreamMe studio, which leads me to this question: how did you come to discover the service? Bread was already asked this question in his interview and is therefore not required to repeat his answer, but he may do so if he chooses.
Jo: We got in touch with Stream.Me through a former staff member who connected us with CoffeeRage. Coffee helped us tremendously with getting us involved with Stream.Me and made us immediately feel at home with the site.
We decided to come to Stream.Me fully to stream our events because of how eager Coffee and Stream.Me were to help with the event and because of how at home we felt once we started working with all of you.
The amount of care and support that Stream.Me has for SRX alone is just outstanding. It's really not like anything you'd expect. You all have gone above and beyond for us and we're so grateful.
JagoBlake: We're happy to help!
As you may very well know, streaming has exploded considerably as an industry in the past decade or so. What do you all make of this?
stealinbread: Well, I watch a lot more streaming than I do anything else. People often ask me "hey, did you see the new season of-" and I'm like, nah man, I come home, and I watch streams. A bunch of my friends are the same way. It's a worldwide phenomenon, interactive media like this is getting bigger and bigger.
Jo: I think it's fantastic that so many games new and old are gaining attention through people streaming. Streaming has brought some wonderful old games back into the spotlight and it's incredible to see. I love that it gives people a chance to earn something by doing what they love too. The social connections people make through it, the way it's impacted the gaming industry, and the way it's been able to help charities and individuals is inspiring.
JagoBlake: For those watching the SpeedRunning eXpo at home, have any message for those guys? Like what to expect, your thoughts on their support of the event, etc.?
Jo: Sure thing! If you're watching at home you can expect to see some really great runs and some fun commentary. I would definitely recommend stopping by and saying hi to us in chat. We'll all be in there, ready to chat and answer questions and have some fun. We'd like to say thank you to everyone who participates by watching, running, chatting, donating, etc. for all of the support. It means the world to us that we're able to host these events, have fun and make new friends. We feel like you're all a part of the family and thank you for helping to spread awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and raise some money for a fantastic charity.
stealinbread: If you have any questions about stuff, ask in chat during the time of the event. I'll be in chat, so hit me up!
JagoBlake: What plans do you guys have for the future of the brand going forward? Any expansions in any way?
stealinbread: We've got some good stuff in store, but I regret to inform you it's top secret intel.
Raichu: We don’t even tell Bread about it, that’s why he can’t share.
stealinbread: Announcements will be after the spring event.
Jo: The secret recipe is in a bottle in a lockbox under my floorboards.
stealinbread: I could have sworn you hid it under the mattress with the Krabby Patty secret formula.
Jo: Crap, I may have.
Varin: Link to the Discord is on our StreamMe page, and on Twitter and Facebook.
JagoBlake: Thanks for all of this! So I think it is time we close this off with a final question. Shout-outs. Do you have them?
stealinbread: Shoutouts (excluding myself) to the original crew who founded SRX: Stuntcoyote, The_Hype_Man, Rabidpixy, and Sybil.
Jo: Shout outs to my Mom and Dad for inspiring me to follow in their footsteps by raising money for CFF and Shoutouts to everyone in the SRX family who couldn't make it in person this year. We love you guys and we'll see you in chat!
Raichu: I wanna shout out Jo and Varin to be honest. Those guys are why I’m here to begin with. I still remember I submitted to SRX Fall 2017 (I live in Ireland so I’m online) and forgetting to join the Discord, entirely forgetting the marathon; Jo came to my channel while I was streaming, introduced herself and asked me to join the Discord 'cause the marathon was like a week away at this point. I really liked the atmosphere in the server and was ecstatic to see they had staff applications, I think I applied the day after my run. Lol. Like if Jo hadn’t gone out of her way to contact me I might never have known about this marathon and been a member of this amazing team. I love all these guys, to be honest. (Except Hubert, fire him)
Varin: Shout outs? Shout outs to my fellow staff members, you guys are the best and the marathon wouldn't be here without the support of us as friends. Shout outs to all the people who come to the events, watch online, and donate. We couldn't hold this marathon without them either. Last shout out to CFF for being such a great organization.
stealinbread: Further shoutouts to many people who have been with us since the beginning, including Varin, Maco_DX, AltimaMantoid, and Belgarion16.
Varin: I'm proud of everyone who made this event possible, back in 2014 I never would have thought this would still be going or have gotten this big.
Jo: Shoutouts to Vesper who got me into Speedrunning and invited me to the first SRX meeting I ever attended.
Varin: Yeah, I'm glad I met Bread, who was my intro to speedrunning, and thanks for letting me be a tech troll and control bts stuff.
Raichu: But yeah, it’s kind of funny, 'cause when I joined staff I don’t think we all agreed with each other very well, but they’ve gotten used to me which is something most people don’t try to do. Basically, these guys right here are the best type of people, regardless of any disagreements we have and have had, we can always seem to work through it towards a grander resolution. And that’s pretty much why this is THE best marathon on Earth.
stealinbread: That was a lot of shoutouts!
Raichu: I LOVE YOU PEOPLE, OKAY?! SHUT UP AND ACCEPT MY LOVE!
Many thanks to the SpeedRunning eXpo team for going out of their way to discuss the inner workings of an amazing event! Make sure you tune in to the eXpo when it launches tomorrow!
We will be back in April with our next guest! If you'd like to offer suggestions on who should appear in our next entry, reach out to me on Twitter at @xJagoBlake!
P.S. If you missed our previous interview, it features Broken Alliance's BxA Jackal who, coincidentally, comes from the very state where the SpeedRunning eXpo will take place this week! You can check out Jackal's interview here.
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