Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. Cinema Studies Program


Se Young Kim

Second Advisor

Kerill O'Neill

Third Advisor

Aaron R. Hanlon


What drives interaction in online contexts? How do “internet communities” form, and how do they generate a sense of interpersonal closeness? I address such questions through a cultural analysis of video game “speedrunning,” an emergent online community that some commentators have noted for its remarkable commitment to compassion and mutual advancement. While several game scholars have explored the narrative and temporal implications of the live-streamed and recorded speedrun, few have directed their attention to the ways in which video game speedrunning, as a community of dedicated practitioners and spectators, is informed by historical precedents and contemporary social processes. I place the term speedrunning within its proper historical and cultural contexts as it indicates an emerging industry, a paradoxically competitive and collaborative community, and a basis for participants’ identity. To this end, the project has three objectives: 1) chart the industrial, technological, and cultural developments that facilitated the emergence of speedrunning as both a topic of interest and a viable activity, from internet forums and early media sharing practices to group messaging and livestreaming services; 2) identify the pathways of communication and media(-ted) exchange that have allowed a community to form around a shared articulation of the activity and its goals; and 3) explore how the communal dynamics of speedrunning rehearse and reproduce specific styles of conduct within internet-age collectives.


Video games, New media, Cultural studies, Information age, Fan studies, Neoliberalism