The highlight of Summer Games Done Quick was a very good dog playing 16-bit baseball

July 9, 2024
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With the general news out of the way, let’s talk about the highlight of the weeklong stream: a shiba inu named Peanut Butter.

You may remember him. He was a major highlight of Awesome Games Done Quick 2024, when he became the first dog to participate, running Gyromite with the assistance of his owner, JSR, and a custom controller. Peanut Butter and JSR completed the run remotely, but for their Summer Games Done Quick run, they attended in person with a brand-new controller and a new game: Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for the Super Nintendo.

I was really worried about this in-person run. To play the game, JSR, with the help of some kibble, instructs Peanut Butter to hit a button with the correct timing to either strike out a batter or hit a home run. The patience and concentration required to perform complex tricks like that is probably stressful enough for a dog, even without the disruption of a large and loud crowd of people. But Peanut Butter managed the distractions beautifully. Whenever the dog’s attention started to wane, JSR refocused him with the ultimate treat: some cheese on a stick.

Halfway through the run, it was looking grim for Peanut Butter, who was down 0–1 in the sixth inning. But after loading the bases, we all held our breath as we waited to see if Peanut Butter would finally score. He did, and the energy from the crowd was so infectious, I felt it three time zones away.

There was a moment when it didn’t seem like Peanut Butter would complete his objective to win the game. Tied and in extra innings, any score from the computer would immediately result in a loss. But Peanut Butter proved he is the best of boys, winning the game in dramatic fashion with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, scoring with Ken Griffey Jr. himself. The hype was so great it couldn’t be contained to just the Games Done Quick audience, and pretty soon Peanut Butter’s exploits appeared on ESPN.com and Canadian sports channel Sportsnet.

There are, of course, other fun runs to watch in addition to Peanut Butter’s Big Baseball Score. The Super Metroid race was pretty exciting and incredibly close. There’s a Baldur’s Gate 3 run done on the hardest difficulty and without exploiting any glitches. And there’s a run of Super Mario 64 where the runner is blindfolded and every star’s location is randomized. Every run is available as a VOD on YouTube, and with over 150 runs, you’re guaranteed to find something interesting.

It sounds a little saccharine, but there’s something sublime about watching a dog play video game baseball with thousands of other people. I have an incredibly soft and tender spot for dogs, especially ones that look like and are as smart as Peanut Butter. It’s hard being around them, even through a computer screen, without getting completely overwhelmed. And though I had to do it through a curtain of tears, watching Peanut Butter eased a grief I still can’t name directly even a year later.

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