September 27, 2022

Student speedrunner sets video game records

Mackenzie Click is a second-year music education (instrumental) and music performance (percussion) double major at Capital. While he’s not practicing or attending classes, he’s one of the best “Portal” and “Portal 2” speedrunners in the world. 

“Portal” is a game where the player solves puzzles using a gun that can generate a portal between two locations. 

Mackenzie holds the “Out of Bounds” category world record for “Portal 1” at five minutes and 57 seconds, being the only recorded runner to be under six minutes. In the speedrunning community, beating a minute threshold is always a feat. Achieving “sub six” shows that the speedrun is getting tighter and improving. He achieved this record three months ago.

He also holds the “SLA” category World Record for “Portal 2” at 38 minutes and 34 seconds, which he also achieved three months ago.

Mackenzie has anywhere between 4500-5000+ hours played in these games. Steam, an online gaming platform, calculates the hours played in games. But, some of his game time was on an old, cracked version of the game.

 “This cracked version of the game was only available by messaging the developer, and he would make sure you had the official release before giving you the cracked version,” says Mackenzie. 

I asked him where the inspiration to put all this effort into the game came from, and he explained that he had watched the World Record back in 2014 and said, “Wow that’s cool, I wanna do that!” He explained that the record for “Portal 1” was approximately 10 minutes longer than it was now, which is quite an improvement considering the run is now only a little under six minutes.

I knew going into the meeting with Click that the speedrun was going to be confusing for a viewer, and to no surprise, he made those games look extremely broken. He was able to walk through walls, fall through floors, and completely skip large sections of levels by manipulation of the game’s physics.

Click believes that we are “nearing the human limitations of achieving the best run on ‘Portal 1.’” He continues,  “Essentially, we can shave off a lot of time for ‘Portal 2,’ and little for’ Portal 1.’”

 He explained that the TAS (Tool Assisted Speedrun–basically a robot) for Portal 1 is currently 5 minutes and 15 seconds. The 45 second difference from his world record seems large, but the TAS has zero errors and perfect frame precision, which a human could not come close to emulating. 

Mackenzie’s stream set up, showing off Portal glitches. Photo by Satch Garlock.

When asked about if he thinks the run will go sub 5 minutes he said, “I don’t want to say it will never happen, because people say these kind of things all the time and they are literally always wrong… but it’s gonna be awhile.”

Click has brought his Portal 2 run to SGDQ 2019 (Summer Games Done Quick) which is the largest speedrunning event of the year. It is a week-long, 24-hour per day charity stream to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. He performed his run live in front of hundreds of people, and thousands over the live stream. He looks to return to the event this summer, as it is returning to in-person. 

At this time, he has little to no interest in speedrunning other titles. “I’ve tried to run other games, but most of the time it just doesn’t work out,” he explained. I asked if it was because of time investment to which he said, “I barely have time for these two games.” 

In the past he’s attempted to run titles like “Breath of the Wild” and “Mario Odyssey,” but said, “I quickly realized that people who were a lot better at that game were putting in a lot more time than I am, so I gave up.” But he says that he’s got a “pretty good” “Half-Life 2” run that sometimes he picks up.

Because of the popularity of the game and his technical ability, Click has amassed a large following online, with approximately 20,000 subscribers on YouTube and 10,000 followers on Twitch. He exports his speedruns that he streams live on Twitch to YouTube, as well as posts videos of some of his musical performances. I asked if he had any intention of focusing on content creation and does he see this as a possible career option. He explained that his passion still lies in music, and he just doesn’t have the time or drive to make streaming part of his everyday life. He aims to continue creating content this way, and wants it to be a source of income on the side.
Mackenzie Click can be found on Twitch and YouTube under the name Can’t Even.

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