The plight of a disabled gamer against time

Courtesy of Square Enix
The “Kingdom Hearts” series features a blend of Disney, “Final Fantasy” and original characters.

By Grant Stoner | Staff Writer

I hate being sick. Unfortunately, my disability has the capability to turn minor colds into full-blown pandemics, only curable through a proverbial cocktail of antibiotics and steroids. Very rarely does this method fail, but if and when it does, I am forced to leave the comforts of my home, trading my poster-filled walls for the dull orange paint of a hospital room. Each hospitalization means that I am to be at the mercy of strangers, but more importantly, it forces me to temporarily give up gaming.

At a younger age, my strength levels allowed me to hold my Game Boy Advance, letting me escape into virtual worlds. In fact, my hospital admissions are the cause for my 37 completions on “Pokemon: Silver Version.” Yet, as I grew older, my disease resulted in a weakening of my muscles, preventing me from effectively holding my gaming devices. This fact became even more evident during my most recent visit to my least favorite institution.

One month ago, I took the all-too-familiar ambulance trip to the emergency room. The cold proved too much for my immune system, and I had no choice but to rely on the assistance of others. What I thought would be a quick “visit” turned into a 13-day ordeal, filled with needles, a plethora of medicines and a constant rotation of doctors and nurses. The only constant during my time in the ICU was watching the bleached tips of a very obnoxious Food Network host.

With nothing to pass the time, I longed to return to the region of “Johto,” but my muscles had other ideas. Without the ability to game, every pain, every cramp and every ridiculous food adjective on the television became excruciatingly noticeable. If I hear the phrase “Winner winner, chicken dinner” one more time, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

As my time in the hospital drew to a close, I became noticeably irritable. I wanted to go home. I wanted to resume a life of normalcy. But more importantly, I wanted to return to gaming. I was a proverbial addict who needed his fix. Thirteen days without a single video game was far too long.

Am I being overdramatic? Possibly. But imagine losing one of the few mediums which allow you to escape the daily pains of a very physically exhausting disease. For me, gaming is not merely a way to entertain myself. Gaming is crucial for the survival of my mental state.

In the virtual world, I need to focus on pressing the appropriate buttons, completing the right tasks and formulating the necessary strategies. I can become so engrossed in each title, that I temporarily ignore the aches in my shoulder, or the spasms in my back. These brief periods of relief grant me the capability to finish each day. Whether it be a 15-minute match on “Pokémon Trading Card Game Online,” or a several-hour excursion into the Disney-filled worlds of the “Kingdom Hearts” series, gaming is the equivalent to my Vicodin.

This hospitalization truly opened my eyes. It made me realize that a simple cold can completely incapacitate me. It also showed me how essential gaming is in my life. Despite my weakening physical state, I refuse to give up gaming. I refuse to let my disability win.

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