To the naked eye, when you see me out and about, you won’t no­tice any­thing out of place, any phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity, any sign of, ‘Jeez, he’s messed up on the in­side.’ And that’s be­cause to see me in the street is to see any other per­son: I ap­pear nor­mal, at least to some de­gree. The rea­son you don’t no­tice even a gri­mace when my knees have started scream­ing is be­cause I will sim­ply grin and bear it; I tell my­self, ‘Carry on re­gard­less, this is your prob­lem and you’re go­ing to have to deal with it.’

And af­ter a week of dev­as­ta­tion and re­unit­ing, I’m cer­tainly not the only one who car­ries on re­gard­less. Some peo­ple use songs to heal; oth­ers use raw emo­tion. I use games. Many things are thrown at gam­ing in gen­eral: all those un­founded claims of ‘too much vi­o­lence’ and ‘games are bad for you’ wind me up. All points made by out­siders – peo­ple who haven’t touched a games con­sole in their lives, only see­ing things from an out­side view. ‘Why are kids play­ing 18-rated games? Bad par­ents!’

You might as­sume gam­ing is nigh-on im­pos­si­ble with this dis­abil­ity. It nigh on is, to be per­fectly hon­est, but I carry on re­gard­less. The only rea­son I can play games is that I’m so oc­cu­pied when do­ing so that I for­get the ma­jor­ity of the agony I’m in. By be­ing fo­cused, stim­u­lated and so­cial­is­ing with friends that I wouldn’t be able to in real life, my soul is healed on the worst of days. Be it the ex­cit­ing mul­ti­player of the Call Of

Duty fran­chise or the end­less ad­dic­tion of time trial on the F1 and Dirt games, I am free of my prob­lems. No arthri­tis. No epilepsy. No non-ex­is­tent so­cial life. I’m im­mersed and happy, some­thing I can’t say of my ex­pe­ri­ence of any other me­dia plat­form. Only gam­ing can heal me fully.

And that’s the truth. Videogam­ing is un­ri­valled in its abil­ity to stim­u­late, fo­cus and im­merse some­one in an­other world. For the ‘out­sider’ to change their mind, maybe we should sit them down with No Man’s Sky or

Over­watch, and see whether they can’t help but smile. Char­lie Ridgewell

Heart­felt stuff, Char­lie – many thanks for get­ting in touch, and we’re re­lieved to hear we’re not the only ones who use games as a refuge from the hor­rors of the real world, though you’ve given our own prob­lems some much-needed con­text. We will re­turn to the swollen Edge mail­sack with re­newed vigour.

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