Rolling Stone


By exploiting quirks and glitches, some highly advanced players have finished the biggest games in record time


How fast can a game be beaten — and how many tricks can a player use as they do it? With “game breaking,” users look for loopholes in a game’s design and use them to get past difficult enemies. Different players have different approaches: Speedrunne­rs, for example, find the fastest way to finish, while “map clippers” twist “mechanics” — the rules by which the digital universe is bound — to see what they can get away with before it becomes a problem for developers, or crashes the game completely.


AntVenom is a Minecraft

creator who became a sensation by testing the limits of the hugely popular sandbox game and posting tutorials on his YouTube channel. He got into Minecraft in 2011 when he visited the Far Lands, a bug within older versions of Minecraft, in which old terrain basically begins to break down, creating new worlds for players to explore. “Minecraft isn’t a game like other [high-budget] games,“he says, describing it as “kind of like LEGOs,” in that the gameplay is entirely up to the user.“As the game has developed over time, it’s very much catered to the mindset of breaking Minecraft.”


Speedrunne­r Player 5 focuses on The Legend of Zelda:

Breath of the Wild — in fact, he currently holds a world record for completing the game in just under 24 minutes. He says his favorite aspect of speedrunni­ng is having a clear goal and constantly working to improve it. “Essentiall­y, I think it’s pretty comforting, being able to be so familiar with something that your muscle memory takes over,” he says. “I know what I’m doing. And then once you get your personal best after thousands of attempts, it makes it all worth it.”


Super Mario Bros. speedrunne­r Niftski — who holds the world record for the fastest completion time, at just under four minutes and 54 seconds — has been playing the Nintendo title since he was about six. But since 2019, it’s become one of his favorite pastimes. “Playing casually can get boring,” he says. “It gives it a new feel.”

Niftski uses what are called “real-time attack runs” to go frame by frame through the game. “What I do is I clip the blocks” — essentiall­y, go through walls — which ”pushes Mario more to the right, compared to where the camera scroll is.” That can trick the game into sending him way ahead, in no time at all.


Speedrunne­r Mitchriz got his start on Sekiro: Shadows Die

Twice in 2019 (which he beat in two hours, blindfolde­d) before trying his hand at Elden Ring,

one of 2022’s hottest games. While it can take players more than 50 hours to complete the game, he finished in nine minutes and 40 seconds.

In Elden Ring, Mitchriz uses a technique called zipping, which allows him to fly instantly across the game’s vast world. “It’s a weird interactio­n with some of the animations in the game, where if you [move] the animations in a particular way, you basically just get launched several hundred feet forward,” he says. “That lets you skip bosses to get towards the end of the game. It’s a really powerful glitch.”

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