Every Games Done Quick event has a few standout runs that get massive response from everyone watching. It became pretty clear early in the week that halfcoordinated’s Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight run was going to be one of those standout moments. Right off the bat his run was on the insane level difficulty, which dramatically increases the skill level required to even beat the game let alone speed run it. His run was also done 1-handed.
The reason for this is due to being born with Hemiparesis, a condition that causes lowered sensitivity and coordination on the entire right side of his body. Just those factors alone would make this run something to catch! Then, during the run a donation was announced that was from his dad. The message attached said “Even if you I wasn’t your dad, you would still be a hero to me.” to which halfcoordinated responded “That’s actually my dad, I’m trying not to cry.” Some donations came with comments saying thank you to half-coordinated for inspiring them as 1-handed gamers themselves. When given a donation for players choice he wanted it to go towards naming a character in Final Fantasy Adventure Sam. This was to honor a young girl, who after losing function in her right hand rediscovered a joy for gaming after being shown halfcoordinated’s previous GDQ appearances. Then after coming in well under the time estimate, 31:58 of 40 minutes, halfcoordinated took the time to say a few words.
“It’s really important to me at these events. It’s amazing I get to represent other gamers. Even though I did pretty good, I’m not the only disabled gamer who is able to do amazing things. Other people can do so much. It’s important to take what life has given you, and do your best with it. I’m not going to say that people are able to do anything, that’s empty words. But I will say that your limits are probably way farther out than you expect, and if you push yourself you’ll probably be really happy and pleased with the results.”
The entire thing was rewarded with a standing ovation by the live audience. People were tearing up including halfcoordinated, even the announcer afterwards was choking up a bit and requested a commercial break because he didn’t quite know how to follow that up and went and gave halfcoordinated a hug.
Within an hour of his run halfcoordinated twitter following more than doubled and his twitch following even more so. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down either. I met with halfcoordinated a couple days after his run and during our time he had accrued more than 70 twitter notifications. “It’s a bit overwhelming, and I’m doing my best to address each and every message” We can all agree though it’s well deserved.
Not only are halfcoordinated’s runs done 1-handed he throws up impressive times as well. He currently holds world records for the games Vanquish and Transformers: Devastation, and ranked #2 for Momodora. His impressive times are what get him into the GDQ events, and the fact they are done 1-handed is a bonus. The ps2 is when he started his 1-handed controller grip. “No one is going to figure it out for you. So you need to figure out what works best for you.” Up to that point the lack of regular joy-sticks had made it difficult for him to play the action games he preferred playing. “Growing up with a sibling, we played a lot of games together. Those are usually more action oriented”, “I actually didn’t even get into other genres until after I developed my 1-handed playstyle”
His grip has his palm on the left joystick, thumb on the right joystick, and the rest of his fingers are free to press the rest of the buttons. When it comes to controllers he talked about how everyone’s needs are different so it’s difficult to manufacture a 1-handed controller. “Sometimes they make it impossible to do more than one thing at a time, making every button only accessible by the thumb.” There was one I mentioned seeing that was hard to grip resulting in dropping it. “That’s the other issue you run into.” In the end he prefers just using his 1-handed grip.
The most impressive thing about halfcoordinated though is how conscientious he is. “During normal play I actually use my other hand to stabilize the controller. For the event I purposefully don’t do that so that someone watching who may not have that second hand can see that it can be done.” His main priority in everything is to show others with disabilities that they can play games, and he’s successful. He regularly gets messages and tweets thanking him. He’s genuinely touched every time someone tells him that his speedruns helped inspire them to overcome their own challenges, to not only play games but other things as well. He’s aware he is in a unique position and wants to honor it by using every opportunity to show what’s possible and to be a voice for accessibility in gaming. In the end though his main message for everything is “Remember to enjoy yourself, and have fun”.
Half-coordinated is always looking for opportunities to playtest and help more games be playable by more people. He’s beta tested and play tested a number of games where his input towards accessibility was implemented. He recently playtested Joylancer and his main contribution, and regular recommendation for all games, was custom button mapping. “Make sure your game has either a wide variety of button assignment or custom, custom preferred.” His other piece of advice for game developers basically is being willing to ask yourself “What if I was colorblind, what if I was deaf, what if I had limited mobility in my hands, what if I can’t see” These questions lead to more accessibility naturally, and that’s always a good thing. There are also organizations that are centered around gaming accessibility. Check out AbleGamers, http://www.ablegamers.com/, and SpecialEffect in the UK, http://www.specialeffect.org.uk/, for more information.
Halfcoordinated is a fantastic guy, and I’m better having met him. His determination and hard work to become a good speedrunner and to give voice to gamers with disabilities goes to show how incredible he is. His run brought in roughly $7,000 for Doctors Without Borders, and made a lifelong impact on many who tuned in for his run. It’s clear he’ll continue making a difference in game development and people’s lives.
For those interested in contacting halfcoordinated to show appreciation or to have him test your game he recommends following him on Twitter, @halfcoordinated. He also would love to see you in the twitch chat during his streams. I highly recommend checking out his impressive skills and moving words below.