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Cheating in speedrunning is easier than you’d think

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A video history of faked runs

It shouldn’t be a surprise that many speedruns are fake. The unique, highly competitive way of playing games requires a lot of rote memorization, patience and pure skill — but for those who want the glory without the work, cheating is an easy way out.

A video from TheNo1RetroGamer, who fancies himself a speedrunning expert, goes over some of the most common methods of faking your way to a speedrunning record. The most common of these is splicing, which involves players editing footage from different playthroughs together to create the illusion of one complete, quick run.

Runners who have set world records in popular games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have been exposed for splicing their footage together on several occasions over the years. Back in 2015, a well-known speedrun of Super Mario 64 from 2008 — a 17-minute, 16-star run by streamer ShadowOfMyles — was exposed as a fake. Another speedrunner pointed out where there was a cut in the recorded playthrough, rattling the community.

“Before the growth of Youtube, it was the go-to run for those who watched a speedrun of SM64, and was one of the most popular speedruns overall,” wrote Reddit user TrueReligion_ of the discovery. “It doesn't affect much as it stands today, but the fact that such a well known speedrun is fake just really sucks.”

The reasons for cheating are myriad and not always made plain. RWhiteGoose, a streamer known for posting fast times in Goldeneye 007, admitted in a lengthy video that he faked one of his record-setting runs from 2007 — as a response to another player, called Ace, tying his time.

“When someone ties your record like Ace did to me, I was destroyed,” RWhiteGoose explained, comparing it to “your girlfriend leaving you” and other heartbreaks. To reclaim his spot at the top of the leaderboards, he took a fast, yet incomplete, run and spliced it together with other footage to create a playthrough that was one second faster than Ace’s tied speedrun.

“Within one or two days, people caught on, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, these times are fucking fake, take them off, boys, ban me,’” said RWhiteGoose. “And so they did, and that was the way it went.”

Back in 2007, this was a rare and devastating occurrence, but one that RWhiteGoose and TheNo1RetroGamer point out has become easier and more common over the years. But members of the community don’t necessarily see the proliferation of fake runs as running the risk of undermining speedrunning.

“You can never trust anything you see on an image or a video,” wrote user Ponsari in a Reddit thread about TheNo1RetroGamer’s video. “All you need to make anything happen is invest enough time and effort. It's particularly easy for video games, because they're far easier to imitate. And as time goes by it'll only get easier and easier. So it goes back to trust. We'll have to live with scams as WR forever, all we can really do is make a LOT of noise when someone gets caught.”