Online friendship ends in European adventure

Arts & Entertainment Community Featured

CHANCE HARBOUR — What began as a simple online gaming friendship ended up as an actual face-to-face meeting on the other side of the world.

That was the experience of New Glasgow’s Connor Janes. The 20-year-old befriended a fellow gamer from England who goes by the online name of Froob McGuffin. It was McGuffin who introduced Janes to the European Speedrunner Assembly, also known as ESA. The two finally met in person at this year’s event in Malmo, Sweden.

“I had heard a bit about it from him,” Janes said. “He went a few times. I looked it up and it just kind of went from there… I talked to a few people about it and decided, ‘yeah, sure’.”

Not only did he get a chance to travel to Europe for the first time and see some high-level players blitz through rounds of games like Yakuza and Devil May Cry, but he also got to make friends with plenty of like-minded people from around the world.

“There were a lot of nice people there, no language barrier. There were a lot of people from all over Europe… Everyone’s there to do what they want to do: have some fun and meet some people,” Janes said.

Despite the event’s name, it’s not a track and field meet but a twice yearly speedrunning (gaming) event that acts as a charity fundraiser.

In a nutshell, gamers gather from around the world to complete their games as fast as they can in front of a live audience with the games also streamed on Twitch.TV round the clock for viewers worldwide. Six-hundred gamers went at it 24/7 during the seven days of the event.

The event’s website said that this year $80,000 was raised for the Swedish Alzheimer’s Foundation.

As one can imagine, this type of non-stop action takes a large number of people to keep it running. Janes said there is a huge crew of gamers, organizers and volunteers who keep it running like clockwork. He was there mostly as a spectator but he volunteered to help out with some parts of the event too.

The highlight for Janes was a Yakuza run that Froob did. It was part of a special fundraising activity at the Assembly. For every $20 donation made by a fan watching, the donor could control the game, in a sense.

“They (the player) could be blindfolded or the whole audience would have to form a conga line.”

The ESA left a positive impression on Janes, one he hopes to experience again.

“The hosts were very nice,” he said. “They like to get to know people personally. I would like to go back someday.”

New Glasgow’s Connor Janes used this pass as his ticket to all the gaming and additional events and features at this year’s European Speedrunner Assembly in Malmo, Sweden. (Burns photo)