When Clint 'Halfcoordinated' Lexa was spending thousands of hours doing insane runs in Castle Crashers, streaming was the furthest thing from his mind. Now, almost 10 years later, he doesn't pick up a controller and play without a small audience watching his every turn.
"There are only so many hours in the day where I can play or stream and it's often better that they overlap," Lexa said. "I physically can only play so much. So I might as well stream when I'm playing."
Lexa is a speedrunner who plays through games with only one hand due to a physical disability. While it does slow him down, he's used it to create a style all his own. A style that's helped him build a following and advocate for other disabled players.
He became popular after his speedruns of games like Transformers: Devastation and Vanquish at the annual speedrunning event Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ). Success at those events, speedrunning in general and his activism for disabled gamers led Lexa to a nomination for the 2017 Trending Gamer award, a short documentary feature on DisneyXD, and interviews from dozens of different sites.
At this point, Lexa has over 16,000 followers on Twitch, his passion for speedrunning and advocacy has helped make him a streaming celebrity of sorts.
He started to stream after he picked up a capture card and id's first-person shooter, Rage, in 2012. He's grown to stream nearly everything he's played since then. Even though he considers himself speedrunner first and streamer second, the two elements of his life have never been more connected.
"They've become interwoven," Lexa said. "They are separate things that don't require each other, but streaming is a huge motivator to keep working. I know I wouldn't put nearly as much into my attempts if I wasn't streaming."
To Lexa and hundreds of other streamers that run at the two major speed running events, as well as smaller events like RPG Limit Break and ESA Marathon in between, streaming has become synonymous with speedrunning.
"It's very rare that I do a full run off-stream. It's like, what if that was the world record run?" Lexa said. "There is a lot of pressure to do a run off-stream and record it again, so that doesn't happen. There will be times where I experiment with different ways to make a run offline since that isn't the best content."
"Besides that, speedrunning is a single person activity," Lexa added. "Streaming makes it a lot less lonely."
Lexa, who left his job at a call center a few months ago to stream and speedrun full-time, has a physical disability called hemiparesis. That means he has scar tissue on the sensory-motor cortex of his brain and it lowers the feeling and functionality of his entire right side.
While the disability makes it harder for Lexa to pull off the same strategies other speedrunners do, he still puts out some fantastic runs of games that are a bit less traveled. While most of his streams are focused around speedrunning, he does play some games like Monster Hunter World casually. He usually nails down his next speedrun target during these sessions.
One of those targets was Runic Games' Hob, a Zelda-like adventure game full of puzzles and sword combat.
"It's beautiful — it has a very chill atmosphere," Lexa said. "It has small breaks in where you can't progress for twenty seconds because of an animation. Which is something most speedrunners would complain about, but it actually gives me a break."
That's not to say that Lexa doesn't run other fastpaced games. He's used common strategies to claim the number one run for Transformers: Devastation and the 3rd spot for Vanquish. He's also run games like Nier Automata so its clear his disability does not prevent him from being one of the most notable speedrunners around.
While Lexa's disability makes it harder to do some runs, it has also lead him to play games that are often dismissed by other runners. Hob's puzzle animations and slower pace make it one of those games that were perfect for him.
"I've reached a point where I've started to hit a wall based on controls in some games. It can even be a small thing, something that's hard to overlook, that limits me," Lexa said. "I never hit that with Hob though."
It's the same case with Semblance, Lexa's choice for his run at AGDQ 2019. Semblance, developed by South African studio Nyamakop, is a puzzle platform where your character and the entire world are made up of a Playdough-like material.
It's another game that matches Lexa's speedrunning style, a style that includes playing through slower games like Hob and Semblance while explaining every move that he makes. It's what helped him grow a small following on Twitch and become a popular speedrunner.
But after all the interviews and runs on the big stage, Lexa's mission has remained humble with his regular broadcasts.
"Well, my direct goal is to do an all-orb run of Semblance, I think I can get my run to under 24 minutes," Lexa said. "But, with streaming, I want to continue to sustain myself and just make it a fun place for everyone."