Life Lessons from Speed Runners

Allow me to share with you my nerdier side for a moment. You probably didn’t know this, but I am quite a fan of something called video game speedruns.

You see, there is a whole community of people who stream video games professionally. Essentially these people get paid by an audience of fans to chat with them and watch them play games.

One specific variety of video game streamers, are called ‘speed runners’. These are people who aim to raise the challenge level of a video game by rushing through it, aiming to complete the game in record times.

As I have watched a few of these streams, I have noticed some habits that I think transfer very well to real life. Thus, for your viewing pleasure, here are some valuable life lessons I’ve observed from watching speedrunners in action:

Speedrunners have a very clear goal in mind

This is probably the most obvious point, but it makes a big difference. When a person sets out to speedrun a video game, they have a very clear time goal in mind. This is usually based on other speedrunners who have set a record before them, or it is an attempt to beat the current record.

What this goal does is direct their focus, and make them determined to achieve their goal. An extremely valuable quality in real life just as it is in playing a video game.

Speedrunners have a strategy in place before they start

A big part of speedrun attempts is something called ‘strats’. This is essentially the approach the gamer will take to get a very speedy run through. Strats are often created from learning the basics from others experience, and also thinking creatively to eek out a faster run. 

The main lesson here is that before attempting to reach their goal, they have a plan and a clear actionable strategy. Simple, but very useful in real life too.

Speedrunners have a clock and they track their milestones carefully

An important component of speedrunning a video game is tracking to a clock. Without an official timer in place, there is no way to know whether you are getting close to your goal. Along the way, there are always time milestones for different levels. This helps to break down the larger goal and give a sense of progress.

I think in life this same time-based focus is useful. If you use time as a guide, it is amazing how much more focused and efficient it can make you. Having small milestones along the way also makes it encouraging and gives you a sense of progress.

Speedrunners do the same tasks repeatedly to build skills

Perhaps the most unique quality of speedrunners (compared to other ‘casual’ video game players) is their willingness to keep trying to improve skills incrementally, through continual practice. It is astounding to watch sometime how willing these people are to try a simple action over and over again.

Speedrunners evolve their play strategy as new ways are discovered, and perhaps more importantly, they adapt to these new ways of playing very quickly. In life, this willingness to build skills that can improve your results, and keep adapting to new strategies is incredibly valuable as well.

Speedrunners aren’t afraid to fail… over and over

This might be the most valuable speedrunning skill that I believe can be used in life. Those who do video game speedruns seem to be able to cope with a lot of failure. In their attempts to reach a record, they may fall short hundreds if not thousands of times. They face these failures with a sense of grit and reality. They are perfectly willing to start all over again if a mistake or failure occurs.

This ability to accept a failure and quickly move forward is a huge advantage in life as well. The resilience and determination it grows in you means that you eventually breakthrough to the success you want.

These simple Life Lessons from Speedrunners have definitely helped me to adapt better in real life situations, and have given me a respect for those who choose to take on video game speedruns as a personal challenge. They are also highly entertaining to watch, and I’d suggest joining in the fun if and when you have a little free time.


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