Tomb Raider, a title more than 20 years old, recently inducted into a video games hall of fame, and a seminal work in the action-adventure genre that drives the AAA video games conversation of the present day, had never been speedrun at a Games Done Quick marathon.
That changed Tuesday, when the U.K. speedrunner Beckski93 took on Tomb Raider at Summer Games Done Quick. It’s the first time the landmark PC game had ever been run over the past decade of GDQ events. And somewhat fittingly, the game’s first appearance came with a woman at the controls.
It also doubled Beckski93’s followership on Twitch. She didn’t register a new world record — her 74-minute time on Tuesday would stand about 10th on the current leaderboard. But SGDQ books performers and games for visual appeal, more than the idea someone might break a record. And Beckski93’s success demonstrates why elite runners are willing to fly to another country and cross multiple time zones to perform in something that is otherwise livestreamed on a personal account on random days, and if a record time is set, it’s reported well after the fact over social media.
“I think classic Tomb Raiders make for really interesting or fun speedruns to watch, and it deserved a spotlight,” she told Polygon in an email interview after her performance. She was fully aware the game had never been an event at a Games Done Quick before. “I saw an opportunity there for the run to be accepted, and to potentially widen my own audience at the same time,” she said.
Beckski93 said it took nearly two years to assemble her Twitch followership of 2000 subscribers heading into Summer Games Done Quick. Today, she has 3,909 followers, most of that growth thanks to her Tomb Raider run over the past week. “I was nervous knowing that so many people would be watching, especially as some of the glitches, jump sequences and janky enemy AI can make the run fairly unsafe for a marathon run,” she said. “Fortunately, everything went well on the night.”
It’s also a milestone of sorts. Women are a comparatively small population among elite speedrunners — each of the seven days at Summer Games Done Quick was stacked with multiple world-record holders, most of them male. Beckski93 acknowledged the novelty of her appearance. “I think it’s safe to say that female runners generally garner or generate more interest in their runs,” she said, noting that the lack of female representation creates the assumption that her runs won’t be as good as other top-flight competitors.
But in taking up this challenge, she had to step outside of her comfort zone. Beckski93 is the World No. 1 speedrunner for Tomb Raider on the Sega Saturn. She chose to run it on PC, instead, where her best time is sixth overall. “The PC version is by far the most competitive,” she explained, “but also the most friendly version to speedrun. It has a quick save and quick load feature that helps when learning the game. Because of this it has the most runners and it’s also much more optimized than [on] console.
“I also wanted to challenge myself as console runs for Tomb Raider tend to be fully single segment (because saving and loading takes a lot longer, and you can only save at crystals).” she explained.
This is the first time Beckski93 has appeared at a Games Done Quick event, taking great pride in not only representing herself but also the community of players devoted to the games she enjoys. “Every runner has done an amazing job of representing themselves and their communities,” she said, “and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.” And while she felt an alliance with the other female speedrunners appearing through the week, “I do also just see myself as a part of the general population,” she said. “My gender overall shouldn’t matter too much, we all love video games and are using this love to raise money for charity.”
On speedrun.com, Beckski93 has first place for Tomb Raider on the Saturn (glitches used), first in a Resident Evil category on the same console, and then three second places and three third places in Resident Evil games.
“I’ve generally felt for a while that it’s just expected for female runners to not be as good as their male counterparts,” she said. “I am proud to be a part of breaking down these stereotypes.”
You can follow her work here on on Twitch.