Getting banned from Club Penguin is now a speedrunning competition

Club Penguin is nearly a month away from being shut down for good, which is a shame because it's now ground zero for a new breed of speedrunning competition. The concept is simple: How quickly can you create an account and get yourself banned from this browser-based kids' game? Well, as of right now that answer is 39.53 seconds. And it looks like it'll only get lower.

Speedrunning is typically seen as a kind of athletic competition demanding incredible accuracy and unparalleled knowledge of how a game works. Not this competition, though. Nope. The race to get banned in Club Penguin takes place outside of the game more than it does from within. This new category of speedrunning, called 'Banned%' requires players to register for a new account, accept the verification email, quickly fill in captchas, log into the game, and then write obscenities in the chat which are intercepted by the language filter triggering an auto-ban.

The competition originates from the Banned From Club Penguin subreddit. See, being a game for children, Club Penguin understandably has some pretty strict rules for what is and isn't allowed. So naturally trolls on the internet had to form a whole community devoted to finding all the weird ways they could toy with those filters. Over the years, the subreddit has devolved from a place to share humorous stories to some bizarre back alley Club Penguin meme factory—not that I'm complaining.

With Disney closing down Club Penguin on March 29, the future of Banned From Club Penguin looked bleak. Then user Buttonwalls had the brilliant idea to record how quickly he could get banned. Their run clocked in at one minute, 54 seconds. As others critiqued their technique in the comments and saw opportunities to improve the time, a sport was born. Fast-forward a week and 2KRN4U has the world record at 39 seconds.

What I love about this, however, is how much the race to shave seconds off the clock mirrors actual speedrunning. A month ago, YouTuber Summoning Salt released an amazing video detailing the decade-long struggle to get the world record time for Super Mario Bros for the NES under five minutes. The gist being that speedrunners labored for months over the most granular techniques to clip seconds off of their time. And the Banned% runs of Club Penguin are undergoing the same process.

For example, 2KRN4U had the brilliant idea of making their Club Penguin password the same as their email, meaning they could copy and paste the same thing in multiple input fields when registering their account. I fully expect that, as time goes on, we'll start seeing people prefer certain email clients because the mouse-to-email travel time is smaller. Hell, maybe we'll even see which browser you use come into play as runners begin to favor lightweight clients?

If you want to try your hand and getting yourself banned from a dying game, you can read the hilariously detailed rules here. And yes, using autofill to register your account is against the rules (fortunately, you won't get banned from getting banned from Club Penguin). You can also head over to either the Banned From Club Penguin subreddit or the official Speedrun subreddit to stay up to date on the latest world records. My money is that in a week we'll be under 30 seconds for the world record. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.