IMPACT 0245: THE FUTURE OF E-SPORTS
Justin Ho, 23, is a speedrunner of a myriad of games in esports – a niche area of gaming that entails completing a game as fast as possible. He is one of the pioneer speedrunners from Singapore and hopes to broaden the speedrunning community here.
I’m Justin (Juho) Ho, a 23-year-old who’s also known on the internet as Juh0rse. I’m an internet entertainer and content creator who focuses on a niche gaming genre known as “speedrunning”.
In layman’s terms, speedrunning is like a 100 meter dash – but for gaming. As one of the few local gaming speedrunners in Singapore, I aim to pioneer and promote this non-mainstream genre to those who wish to know more about this one-of-a-kind skillset.
As an only child, I grew up feeling lonely at different points during my childhood and teenage years. I always wanted my parents to be around me as they were my saviours from a harsh reality. Getting bullied a lot by other students and being chided by teachers meant many emotional rollercoaster rides. But there was one thing that kept me away from all of my problems, and that was gaming.
Gaming was not my passion at that time, but more of a leisure and comfort. I grew up with consoles such as an Xbox, a Nintendo Wii, and a Playstation Portable (PSP), but only got around PC gaming around 2012, with games such as Minecraft and Garry’s Mod. At that time, I met a lot of online gamers, both locally and internationally, who had the same interests as me. Till this day, a few of my local online friends have stayed within my social circle.
During my secondary school years, I went through a rough depressive state. My parents were distant and I had to learn how to be independent as a teenager. From being the top student in my class, I started to fail my subjects. When my parents had a divorce, the emotional stress I was dealing with was so much that it got to a point where I dropped out of college and took a gap year to recuperate myself.
During that season, I was heavily influenced by e-sports, mainly Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Seeing how big it was at that time got me invested in becoming a professional gamer and earning an income from my gaming.
I took the time to focus on becoming a better player at the game for more than three years but when it did not pay off, I tried venturing into other gaming related genres. I came across a video of an event called GamesDoneQuick, a biannual speedrunning charity initiative that garners over 100,000 viewers per event and has raised over $30 million over the years.
As a speedrunning event, GamesDoneQuick focuses on playing games as quickly as possible in a single week and raising money for charities like Doctors Without Borders and Prevent Cancer Foundation. I was immediately hooked and started to learn how speedrunning worked, hoping to be one of the players running on GamesDoneQuick one day.
I started out small, with a few short and fast-paced games like Brain Age and Bishi Bashi Special 2, but then came the longer and more memory and skill-based oriented games like Resident Evil 7 and Silent Hill.
Slowly, I found communities catered to speedrunning through platforms like Discord and Twitch, and I began to meet more people online. I built up my confidence in commentating for video games while speedrunning, working with really small speedrunning marathons and showcases. This helped a lot with my social anxiety and depression.
I soon was imagining what it would be like if Singapore were to have such an event, and found out that there was none like what I had seen from the United States. Upon realising that, I started a community from scratch, called Lion Speedrunners Assembly, or LSA, for local speedrunning talents to make new friends.
Slowly but surely, the community grew to the point where we decided to organise the first ever speedrunning event in Singapore. On Nov 20, 2019, six speedrunners played 11 games in a span of 18 hours at Bountie Arena.
Around the same time that the local event was happening, I was hand-picked and invited to take part in the second largest speedrunning event in the world, the European Speedrunner Assembly, or ESA, in Malmo, Sweden, which garners about 20,000 viewers per live event. I ran two games, Remothered: Tormented Fathers (a 2018 Indie Horror game) and Bishi Bashi Special 2 (a fast-paced Japanese game full of microgames similar to WarioWare).
I did not expect something like this to happen and was full of ecstasy. Although it was not GamesDoneQuick, it was still one of the largest charity speedrunning events in the world.
Once I was done with ESA, I worked hard through this year and last. At time of writing, I’ve participated in more than 60 events, small and large, charitable and non-charitable, and have speedrun in more than 30 games.
One of my personal future goals is to get into a GamesDoneQuick mainline event, either “Awesome Games Done Quick” or “Summer Games Done Quick”. I would like to show the world that there’s a diverse community of speedrunners from Southeast Asia, specifically Singapore.
One of my future plans is to gain a partnership with Twitch. Since livestreaming as an entertainer and a content creator is my full-time job at the moment, reaching a partnership would mean everything to me as I would be able to use gaming as a platform of income and bringing my passion forward.
Lastly, I hope to organise another local speedrunning event, either online or on-site, such as a conventional event like Singapore Comic Con or Gamescom Asia, to continue enhancing the speedrunning scene in Singapore. There has been a steady growth of local talent in speedrunning, and I’m hoping to gather more people to take part in the localised event.
To the youths who are passionate in their own area of expertise, please don’t give up. Try and try again until you can achieve what’s impossible to you. To the gamers who are finding their place in competitive e-sports, like speedrunning, I hope you work extra hard to prove to the people who say that gaming is a waste of time that it’s not.