Cooper Walter's Mario Kart speedrun record and the rising popularity of video games during lockdown

PRACTICE: Cooper Walter playing Mario Kart on Wii. Pictures: CONTRIBUTED
PRACTICE: Cooper Walter playing Mario Kart on Wii. Pictures: CONTRIBUTED

"That was so stressful."

You can see relief, and then joy, on Cooper Walter's face at the end of the video.

Recorded last year, it features Walter playing the video game Mario Kart in his bedroom in Horsham.

Walter completed all 32 tracks on Mario Kart Wii in one hour, 16 minutes and 53 seconds - the third quickest anybody had ever completed the game.

"I am pretty happy looking back on it," Walter said. "I guess maybe I have bragged about it a little bit since - but I was pretty proud to get third place on a world leaderboard."

Walter's passion for "speedrunning" - the art of completing a video game as quickly as possible - started after he saw others streaming their attempts online.

"I saw my first speedrun when I was about 12 for Super Mario Galaxy 2, one of my favourite games," he said.

"The guy beat it in three hours, whereas it took me about two years to beat. I was just amazed by how fast someone managed to beat the game.

"Then a few years later I got a Nintendo Classic for Christmas, and the first thing I did was a speedrun of Super Mario Bros."

Walter's passion then peaked with Mario Kart Wii, a game he has played for nine years.

His fastest time still stands as the fifth-fastest in the world, in the 'no skips and strategic items' category.

The 18-year-old put his passion for video games on hold at the start of this year, focussing instead on his studies and completing Year 12.

Walter said he has prioritised his year 12 studies over video games this year.

Walter said he has prioritised his year 12 studies over video games this year.

However, with regional Victoria back in lockdown, Walter said he had started picking up the controller a little more often.

"It's a bit crazy to think about (in the context of the lockdown), but I definitely have noticed I'm playing games more often," he said.

"Not long after finishing my studies, I'm immediately back to the game.

"I think a lot of people are playing more, and it's not just video games, but more games in general, like board games.

"The novelty of games has massively increased among everybody during the COVID period."

Walter manages to resist playing games instead of studying, despite having the distraction nearby.

Walter manages to resist playing games instead of studying, despite having the distraction nearby.

Walter said young people had also lost a lot of their old hobbies during stage three restrictions.

"It's actually really tough for me because I am a massive footy person as well," he said.

"This was going to be my first year of seniors (with the Horsham Demons) and potentially my last year in the Wimmera Football League. So I was a bit shattered with the footy not going ahead."

Walter said he was just taking a whirlwind year as it comes.

"I think it's been made pretty clear this year that every single year 12 is pretty stressed out," he said.

"It's tough having that second wave of COVID but that just is what it is. We will just keep going."

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This story Speedrunning, Mario Kart and the rise of video games first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.