Saving Lives with Videogames

Two kids with disabilities play video games at an AbleGamers Booth

There are 149 bumps in the timeworn paint on the popcorn ceiling– the same as yesterday morning. An east facing window lets the early morning sun creep into the room at dawn. It’s the only non-fluorescent light that ever shines in this part of the building. Birds chirp outside the window of the multistory facility alerting the world the day has begun.

Minutes pass on into hours waiting for someone to come and relieve the boredom. The overworked and understaffed caretakers always take a while to sit each person up. Until then, you find things to amuse yourself.

Once help arrives to get you into a sitting position, your day of watching television begins. All of the Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime shows are familiar now. New things are only released every so often and when you have 100 hours a week to watch television, options start running out quickly.

Breaks for medical care are sprinkled throughout the day. An occasional visit from family breaks up the monotony of everyday life. Sometimes the clock seems to drag at an unusually slow pace, almost mockingly so. But the visits do help, if only for a few moments.

Nighttime comes and routine hygiene care begins, the same as it did the night before. Dinner is served as predicted by calendar made the month before. Everything is planned weeks in advance. Another TV show ends the night while waiting for sleep to come and begin the day again.

Although the names, location and finite details change, this is an eerily similar tale to those we hear from people in the disability community all the time. Life in a facility or even at home is often extremely isolating.

Imagine a time when you felt the most alone. Moving to a new city. Your first days at college. A night in the hospital. That time where you weren’t invited to an event with your friends. Another time when you got hurt or sick and had to miss an important opportunity. Or any one of dozens of scenarios. Remember the boredom, fear and loneliness you felt? That’s what it’s often like for many of the severely disabled people we help.

Video games break down the barriers of social isolation by providing level playing fields where anyone can make friends, interact with family, and participate in the infinite space of virtual worlds. The benefits are numerous.

From time to time someone will say we aren’t saving lives. I disagree. When you are trapped by a body that doesn’t respond to your commands, being able to enter a virtual world where physical limitations have been removed and you can participate the same as anyone else, your life is changed forever. Emotionally and mentally, we need human interaction. And if there’s one thing that videogame communities provide, it’s plenty of human interaction.

AbleGamers is saving lives by enabling people with disabilities to enjoy everything video games have to offer. It’s thanks to you AbleGamers is able to save those lives.