In the build up to Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 and in a lot of the general discussion around speedrunning, there is a fair amount of focus on world records. There's so much more to speedrunning than just the top times and I was fortunate enough to sit down with halfcoordinated during Awesome Games Done Quick to talk about what he loved about speedrunning.
Clint "halfcoordinated" Lexa is a veteran of Games Done Quick and has showcased eight different games to date, including Semblance at Awesome Games Done Quick 2019. He was also nominated for the Trending Gamer award in The Game Awards 2017.
The name 'halfcoordinated' comes from a condition Lexa was born with known as hemiparesis, which lowers feeling and coordination on the entire right side of his body. "I actually end up playing games better just holding the controls with one hand instead of two. It suits me, you could say," said Lexa.
When it comes to speedruns, Lexa competes against everyone else on the leaderboards, tackling the challenges single-handed while working with the community to find the fastest way to beat the game.
Speedrunning is not always a direct competition. It's not just runner vs runner. It's often runners vs the game. Speedrunners all work together to see how far a game can be pushed, even in smaller communities where only a handful of people take part.
When Lexa was actively speedrunning Hob, there was one other runner that helped push his skills and their mutual knowledge of the game further.
"SeductiveSpatula - which is an excellent username and just as excellent of a person - we traded the record back and forth and found new strategies together. It's an interesting way to build friendships of that sort," said Lexa.
When speaking of his friends, it's easy to see that the personality Lexa exudes on stage is genuine. He has built a well-earned reputation over the years of being a kind and caring figure. Shortly before my own performance at AGDQ he took the time to help me work through my anxiety, despite us only meeting briefly the night before.
— Games Done Quick (@GamesDoneQuick) July 6, 2016
Finding new strategies, poking and prodding a game to see what makes it tick is part of what makes speedrunning such an appealing hobby to Lexa. He prefers to speedrun newer indie games, games still being discovered and understood. For example, Semblance had only been out for about a month before submissions opened for AGDQ 2019.
Games like Ocarina of Time or Super Metroid have years upon years of knowledge developed as people play those games and find new ways to push them further. The games that Lexa plays don't have that but it all comes together because of the depth of personal and community knowledge.
Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 finished this weekend, raising $3 million for charity. There were countless speedruns but if you missed the marathon, here are some of the best ones. Whether it’s difficult tricks or charming commentary, these speedruns stood out from the crowd.
"Speedrunning is cumulative knowledge, really. So you learn what tends to work in games in general and you kind of apply that to the next game that you play. And again, it's not always going to be the same thing but you get the general idea of what tends to break these games open. That's true at a community level too"
When you see someone has broken a world record, someone has made a new discovery or has just done something amazing, that's rarely just the work of just one person. They've built on the knowledge of people before them and worked alongside other people to push that knowledge further.
On Friday, the charity speedrunning stream hit one million dollars for US charity Prevent Cancer Foundation. Late on Saturday night, it hit two million dollars, and the crowd went wild.
This is even more true at events like Awesome Games Done Quick where speedrunners aren't pushing to break world records but instead showcase the games that they love.
"We're trying to simplify the game: Why do we like this game? Why do we enjoy running it? You want to convey these feelings to the audience," said Lexa.
Going for records and grinding out personal best times is a very different experience than what you see during a marathon.
"A big difference between how I would normally be playing, like doing resets of the game over and over on my own stream, as I'm explaining a lot more of the game. I'm talking about each individual trick and explaining how that works. There might be certain little quips and jokes that I'll throw in there to keep everyone engaged.
"It is much more of a showcase of the game itself and the run, rather than just the run," said Lexa.
On top of that, Lexa considers being able to do a run at Awesome Games Done Quick to be an honour and his way of contributing.
"Doing a run is a volunteer role. A lot of the other volunteer roles would be better suited to those who are more physically able, so this is where I help. It's always good for me to be look back and say 'Hey look, the donations jumped up around my run.' I feel good about that. I get to make a bit of a difference and that's important to me."
Awesome Games Done Quick raised over $3 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation last week. You can view all of the speedruns of the event, including Lexa's run of Semblance on the Games Done Quick Youtube channel.
The author participated in Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 as a volunteer at his own expense.