UPDATE: Ryan Placed Third in the America's Got Talent Final — Congratulations Ryan!

By Sean Carey, 15 days ago
FINAL UPDATE:
In case you missed it, Ryan finished third in this years America's Got Talent final — what an achievement! Despite not quite making it to the top spot, Ryan has a bright future ahead of him with the judges bombarding him with praise after his finals performance. Gabrielle Union said: "Listen, I have a production company. I am making movies, and I want you to be a star in one of my movies. That’s how good you are. You are a star. You are everything, Ryan.”

Ryan also got to live out his fantasy of becoming pro-wrestler and performed a skit with wrestling star Chris Jericho:


You can watch Ryan's final performance below. Once again from everyone here at TrueGaming Network, a massive congratulations from all of us, and thank you for being a part of our community.


UPDATE:
Ryan has made it through to the final! After a hilarious semi-final performance, Terry Crews revealed at the start of the show that Ryan’s place in the final was in jeopardy. Along with two other contestants, Ryan would now be facing elimination but could be spared via the Dunkin’ Save. One contestant can be saved via the Dunkin’ Save based on viewer votes cast during the live results show, and the judges then pick between the remaining two. Later on, it was revealed that the American public had voted to Ryan through to the America’s Got Talent grand final.

Check out some of Ryan’s semi-final performance below:


Massive congratulations on making it through to the finals, Ryan!

Be sure to check out Ryan’s final performance, and the final results show on September 17th and 18th.

ORIGINAL STORY:
Here at TA, we love achievements, but not just achievements with Gamerscore attached to them, we like to celebrate your accolades and accomplishments with you. One of our users has managed something pretty spectacular that needs mentioning. Ryan Niemiller (Username CrippleThreat8) has made it to the semi-finals of America's Got Talent. We spoke with Ryan about comedy, gaming, his disability, meeting Terry Crews and the colossal achievement of making it through to the semis.


Ryan is a comedian and huge video game fan, who also happens to have a disability. He was born with a congenital birth defect in both his arms, with his forearms being much shorter than they should. He also only has a total of five fingers — three on the right hand and two on the left, the two on the left being fused together, “We’re not entirely sure on the reasoning for it,'' said Ryan. “My mom had the flu and had to be hospitalized when she was pregnant with me, so it may have had something to do with that. Or it was just dumb luck. Either way, here we are.”

Ryan’s disability hasn’t held him back, especially in the world of video games. On TrueAchievements he has racked up a respectable TA score of 540,000. His bio on site is tongue in cheek and pokes fun at other players. It reads: “I also have a disability in my hands, so if I'm beating you at a game, know that I'm doing it with half the fingers and you should feel bad about yourself.”

Ryan started gaming at four years old after going to a cousins’ house and playing on a Nintendo console, “I was immediately hooked. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen up until that point. I was fascinated that it felt like I was essentially controlling a television show or a movie. A few months later, we got our own Nintendo. I played a ton of Super Mario Bros. (what kid didn't then?), Top Gun, and Rad Racer. I've been playing games ever since.” We asked Ryan about his experience playing games as someone with a disability, and he said he has found it trickier as time has gone on, but still manages to figure out a way to play, “The more advanced video games get and the more buttons they add to controllers, the more difficult it can be. But the cool thing about humans is, we're pretty adaptable. I don't really know how I figure it out - I just kind of do.”

Ryan Niemiller Americas Got Talent finals

Being a huge sports fan, Ryan has a love for statistics and numbers, and Gamerscore nestles neatly under that umbrella. “I've always enjoyed numbers, records, stats, that type of thing. Gamerscore really scratches that itch for me. I know it's not perfect, but it's a tangible number for me to see "how I'm doing" at games. I also love achievements because it gives me a reason to explore other parts of a game, reasons to enjoy more of the game rather than just beat the story and move on.” He also mentions how he came across TrueAchievements and how, thanks to the site, he has made several close friends, “I believe I found TA originally looking for a guide on some achievements, more than likely Marvel Ultimate Alliance. I love the leaderboards and gaming sessions aspect. I've met people who I'd consider close friends of mine now just because we were randomly in a gaming session together and hit it off.”

His favourite game of all time is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past which he still plays at least twice a year. He also has a love for Mega Man 2 and said, “It was very cool that I was able to earn an achievement for beating it again on the Mega Man Anniversary Collection”. Ryan’s tells us his proudest completions are Cuphead, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 and Forza Horizon 1-3. Getting the 28 achievements in Cuphead deserves high praise alone.

Officially Ryan made his first steps into Comedy in October of 2006. For him though, the path really started when he was five and comedy became a defensive mechanism, “Having a very noticeable disability, there was a lot of potential for me to be bullied or made fun of. Kids are mean — it's what they do. I learned early on that if I made the jokes first, nobody would bother me. I was so much better at making the jokes that no one else really tried. As time went on, I realized that if I made people laugh, they were more likely to do what I wanted them to do. There's a lot of power in comedy.

CrippleThreat8 Ryan AGT

“In college, I studied Theater at Indiana State University and specialized in acting. I love acting, but I got to the point where I got tired of telling other people's stories. People have been telling Shakespeare's stories for years - I wanted to tell my own story. I moved to Los Angeles right after I graduated, took a class at the Ice House in Pasadena, and the rest is history.”

The job of a touring comedian can be a lonely one, but Ryan has found a way to keep himself busy on the road and a way to scratch the gaming itch. Ryan has more than 25 consoles and over 2000 games and with each town he visits comes a new opportunity to add to the collection, “What I started doing was when I'd be in these towns where I didn't really know anyone, I'd look for used video game stores and buy stuff for the collection. It gave me something to focus on.” And now, his fans are even helping him expand the collection, or they're playing a cruel practical joke, “Fans will occasionally bring me new games at shows, and that is pretty remarkable. I mean, why try to be famous if people aren't going to bring you a free copy of Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen Pocket Planner for Gameboy Color? That's why I got into this business in the first place.”

In the American entertainment industry, there is a lack of representation when it comes to people with disabilities. According to the 2017 Disability Compendium* around 12.8% of Americans are estimated to have a disability but are very rarely portrayed on screen, “The entertainment business has not proven itself to be receptive of disabilities" said Ryan. "For example, about 1 in 5 Americans have a disability, but in entertainment, only about 2% of individuals are depicted as having a disability (and even less of them legitimately have the disability that's being depicted). I once auditioned to play a handicapped guy and was literally told I was too handicapped to be handicapped on TV.”

Ryan describes the America’s Got Talent journey as surreal. Performing for almost thirteen years, he still can’t wrap his head around the fact that he is in the semi-finals. He credits America’s Got Talent for allowing him to take to the stage and to talk about disabilities on an international level, “The fact that America's Got Talent has given me this platform to be myself and talk about inclusion and representation and just show people what I can do is mind-blowing. And then on top of that, not only did I get to audition in front of the judges, but then they loved me. Then they loved me again. Then they loved me again! I was confident I was going to do well and bring it to the best of my ability, but now I'm in the top 22 acts out of the 50,000 that auditioned at the start. It's pretty wild. Also, getting to meet and share the stage with so many elite talents is very humbling and exciting. I've made friends for life in this weirdly unique experience.

ryan niemiller americas got talent finals

“The judges have been amazing. I might have a different thought if they didn't like me, but none the less. It’s really fun being recognized by individuals who have all made themselves huge stars. Howie Mandel is a legend in comedy, so for him to appreciate what I do is super cool. And I am officially one of the only people who has ever made Simon Cowell stumble on his words, so even if I don't win this thing, I can put that on my resume!”

When speaking about the upcoming semi-finals, Ryan is humble and is in high spirits, although tinged with an understandable nervousness. This is a goal he’s been working towards in the 13 years he’s been doing comedy. “I honestly feel great. I'm nervous, of course. My goal when I found out I was going to be on this season was to make the finals. Now I'm one step away. The support and goodwill I've received has been overwhelming. I'm just a normal dude from a small town in Indiana, and now I'm getting to perform at the Dolby Theater (where they hold the Oscars, by the way) in front of millions of people on live network primetime television... for the second time. I've worked hard, but I am also a lucky guy.”

ryan niemiller americas got talent finals Terry Crews

And for one of our final questions, we just had to ask What Terry Crews was really like? While his only association with Xbox is, unfortunately, Crackdown 3, Ryan can at least confirm for us that Crews is as awesome in real life as he seems on screen, “Everything you would think about how cool he is would be wrong. He's somehow even cooler. Every time I do an interview with him, my goal is to make him crack, and I've been successful every time. He is great at what he does. He is so warm and welcoming and helps you to feel calm even when you're in the middle of something this crazy.”

You can watch Ryan’s semi-final performance on Tuesday, September 10th. And if you’d like to help him out in getting to the final, make sure you vote, “You can vote with the AGT app, at www.nbc.com/agtvote, or if you have Xfinity, through the Xfinity remote. You can give me ten votes on all three of those platforms per e-mail address. And yes, clearly I'm not too proud for shameless self-promotion. Haha! Please, vote. I'd love a million dollars so I can buy more games.”

From everyone here at TrueGaming Network, we wish you the best of luck, Ryan!

You can follow Ryan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @CrippleThreat8.

*Source: Disability Compendium 2017
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Hey everyone! I'm Sean. I have been writing gaming content for various outlets over the past few years while studying a degree in Journalism. I grew up on everything PlayStation — mainly Metal Gear Solid, with a brief foray into the world of Xbox. Nowadays, you'll find me mainly playing multiplayer PC games, but with the recent addition of the Xbox Game Pass for PC, I'm looking forward to improving my TA Score.