GDQ is happening! Excitement, yay!
But now I gotta talk about masks! Boo!
Games Done Quick is a speedrunning marathon, held on Twitch Dot Tee Vee Slash Gee Dee Kyoo, which has been running since 2010. It’s a live speedrunning marathon where people who specialise in finishing videogames very quickly show off their craft. If you’re not already familiar with speedrunning, you can know it’s a thing I think is cool, it’s a thing I do, and it’s a deep type of performative, competitive play that has a whole host of ways to engage with it. It can be a sport, it can be an athletic display, it can be a performance art and it can be a politically defined intersection of competing ideologies. The speedrunning event across its thirteen years has raised over $46 million Eagle Bucks which have been donated to charities like the Malala Fund, Doctors Without Borders and the Prevent Cancer Fund.
It is, largely, an unalloyed good in gaming, and its controversies include things like ‘banning people for being open shitheads when asked to avoid controversial topics.’ There’s a choice to frame this as the ‘no fun allowed’ kind of thing, but it’s really a lot simpler when you remember the policy is ‘avoid provocative topics,’ and people deliberately didn’t. The convention avoided hosting live events during COVID, going above and beyond restrictions to protect people with medical needs, ran remote events during the pre-vaccine period of the COVID pandemic, and even moved the event when the state they were holding it in became unsafe for marginalised speedrunners to travel to.
I have watched GDQ for years now, I think maybe as much as a decade. Since getting access to money, I have been buying the patches and stickers and shirts to participate, to do some kind of donation of a sort, and Fox does contribute to specific donation goals and the like, playing the game of participating in the charity event. I rewatch videos from GDQ and I’ve been promoting it on this blog for years, too. It is an institution I like and which I tend to think of in terms of being ‘the good ones.’
Hence the next thing being a bummer.
COVID isn’t over. The World Health Organisation declared an ‘end to the Pandemic‘ which was more ‘this is no longer an emergency where we have no tools to address it, and now just an ongoing, constantly evolving threat that will kill people for the rest of our lives, probably.’ This was seen by people who don’t finish reading beyond a headline as a sign that ‘the WHO says everything is fine now,’ and then got mad in their own direction. Either they got mad because then clearly the WHO were overdoing it beforehand, or clearly the WHO have just given up on all of their responsibility in trying to keep people healthy under COVID. This is, again, a byproduct of not reading the statement in its entirety. It describes the idea that people can ‘largely get back to normal,’ in that you can go out of your house and go to the store, but you should still be taking precautions and be aware of the constant variants of COVID.
The disease is still and permanently present and it will probably be so my entire life, which means that I will probably always be Masking in public events, including when I teach classes. This is a type of personal calculus for me. I do not find a mask a zero-impact part of my life. I live in a hot country and when it is humid talking for two to four hours in a mask, then spending another two hours in commute with a mask on is not a thing that doesn’t inconvenience me. I tell myself stories like how rarely I get ill now as a byproduct of this but that is just a fringe benefit of the fact that I am now probably always going to be inconveniencing myself because I can in order to do right by a nebulous, permanent population of anyone else.
So I mask everywhere, even though I don’t have to. Nobody’s making me. I am making a personal choice for the benefit of other people who I will never meet and may never help. It is awful to think about like that because it makes me feel like I’m doing something that inconveniences me for the fantasy of helping people. Am I in a hotspot area? Probably not. Am I actually protecting anyone by what I do? I hope so. I have to hope so.
The GDQ event this year does not require participants or the crowd to mask. It is the first event where that’s a thing. And I don’t … like that.
But what’s more, I don’t feel like this is a thing where I can like, wag a finger about it. It’s not a thing where I feel like I can say, unequivocally, that this is a bad decision. Requiring masking presents potential problems for hosting and event rules – I know there are places that might not allow you to require masking because of the potential financial impact on them. I know GDQ allows for some remote participants, which might be the safest way to allow access for at-risk people. And the thing is, I can’t make a case for ‘this is wrong, GDQ should be masks-only, this choice can only be bad,’ because I know at least from where I stand I am not making the choice of turning a big bus like this.
I hope people will mask. I hope we’ll see some masks in the crowd and see people who are still taking the job of masking seriously. I hope people are doing the best practices now they’re not required to.
But I don’t think they will.
It would be so much easier if this was just a decision where I think they did the wrong thing and I could take an easy stance against it. I want them to do things differently, but I also understand how complicated this is right now and how much that sucks and how it sucks that it sucks and ultimately I can’t leverage a stronger argument than…
I don’t like it.
I think they should do things differently. I would like it better if they did.