Beyond the Screen: The lives of a player

06/20/2011
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Over at Giantbomb there is an interesting piece delving in to how online gaming has helped one person deal with a certain affliction he has: Asperger’s  Syndrome.  Here is a clip from that article:

“It’s kind of ironic that what I shy away from in real life is that I seek the most in video games–to interact with people,” he told me. “It’s not really been a problem in games, in fact it is probably part of the reason I love any game that have social interaction like Dragon Age, Mass Effect and such. For me those games are more about interacting with the party members than anything else.”

Jake’s messages to me are long, detailed and very specific. At one point, he apologizes. When he begins to describe what his mental processes are like, his sentences go on and on and on.

“I have to stop before I flood you with my theories about everything,” he said. “I cannot stop thinking about these sort of things. It’s like my brain is constantly running folding@home or something. It is always analyzing my actions, people’s reactions etc etc. In fact when I play games is one of the few moments where my brain can relax and not run several different threads and analyze things. I become immersed into the video game world and can forget about everything else.”

The way Jake describes it, he struggles to slow his brain down. Stuff that happens in the background for us, seemingly automatic, is foreground for him. When approaching a traffic light, you and I wait for the light to turn green, then cross. That’s not possible for Jake. He calculates the speed of traffic flow, how each of hits steps and hand movements will influence the action of crossing the street, and spends time calculating when–or if–he should press the crossing button.

The article is written by Patrick Klepek and the full piece can be found by clicking here.

Reading this piece last night moved me to think about my experiences in ‘Social Game Spaces’ over the years.  I’ve been using  forums, websites, games and various pieces of social software since 1994 and have experienced the birth of much of what gamers now take for granted.   I’ve always been interested in how gaming and the internet has let people with specific conditions experience life in a much different way.  Some would say a much deeper way.  Although gaming is just a hobby and a way to blow off steam for many of us, that isn’t always the case for some people.  What if gaming wasn’t just a hobby  but the way you deal with the world at large? I’ve met many people in games like Second Life and World of Warcraft who are confined to wheel chairs, have diseases or conditions that keep them home bound or can’t leave the house because they are taking care of relatives and loved ones that have such conditions.   Gaming is how many of these interact with the world around them, how they develop social relationships  with others and just learn to deal with life in general.  A person that doesn’t have full control of his limbs can be a super hero online.  Another that is living a home life full of violence and abuse can find a way to step out of that for a bit and escape.  A person that has to live in a plastic disease free room can dance in clubs.   Often we, as gamers, get annoyed or angry at that person that is being creepy/weird/overexcited about certain things online.  I think we need to take a step back and try to place ourselves in their shoes for a moment.  None of use know what is going on beyond the screen and often don’t know what these people are going through in their own lives.

Of course if you are playing Xbox Live  and have a 13 year old kid hurling vitriol filled insults at you while yelling at his mom for a ‘sam’wich?’ That is another story entirely.  Also some people that are creepy online are just creepy.  A person should always let common sense rule just like in real life.

This post was written by

Warren C. Bennett – who has written posts on Anjel Syndicate.
Warren is the Senior Editor here on Anjel Syndicate. He has a love of gaming that is only surpassed by a love of writing and music. He has been writing since his freshman year in High School but has been a gamer since bell bottoms were high fashion.

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  • http://allahweh.wordpress.com Jessica “Allahweh” Brown

    This is a very interesting article to read. I think this is true for many people out there…Online games offer a new world for people to interact within (especially if you roleplay your characters), and so they help people get away from real life and be things they cannot be in reality. I’ve met many people like those you’ve talked about here before that have had very complicated lives, and yet, when the get in a game like RIFT, all their troubles melt away for a little while.

    I’d be interesting to see where you take this, and if this can become a series of articles.

    Great job!

    • http://warrencbennett.wordpress.com Warren C. Bennett

      Yeah I think this could be a good series of articles. I didn’t write it to be that but we always have to remember there is life beyond our time in games. There is a lot of material that could be written from this one article alone. I think I will continue and see what happens…

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