Browsing Faculty of Humanities by Publisher "Penn State University Press"
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Fully Optimized: The (Post)human Art of SpeedrunningOver time, speedrunning communities work collaboratively to optimize, reconfigure, and improve upon the quickest possible completion times of video game titles. I argue that this progressive ethos, coupled with the performative nature of modern speedrunning, lends a distinctly artistic character to the practice. Speedrunning is a form of (post)human expression that is manifested not only through the programming of a video game, but also through players’ approach to gameplay. By choosing to speedrun, players actively impose a discrete temporal limit on the inhuman algorithms of video games, and so attempt to conquer and thereby curtail their technological novelty. However, within the field of game studies, the literature published on speedrunning to date is almost unilaterally anthropocentric, and focuses on the transgressive nature of the practice, ignoring the intricacies of its technological fundament. Rather, (post)humans and technologies interact in a transformational manner through intra-active assemblages, broadening the condition of embodiment. To theorize a posthumanistic theory of the practice, this article takes as its focus the speedrunning community of the video game Super Mario Odyssey and suggests that speedrunning may ultimately be considered a mode of (post)human performance art.