Fighting any disease is tough. It’s hard for the individual and it’s hard for those around them. One disease that everyone struggles with is cancer. I myself have had to deal with it in some way, either with family members or friends. But one way that you can help those that are fighting it or if you yourself are fighting it, is by playing games.
Playing games? I hear you cry out. Yes, playing games. You can play any game and it will help, but the most effective ones are those that immerse you completely in the world they present you. Video games offer full immersion, removal from harsh reality. And if you are lucky enough to have a VR system, then that is even better.
It’s not only the immersion that helps you or others with fighting cancer, taking your mind off things, but it also helps those who struggle with the disease to understand it better. Knowledge and comprehension of the disease and the process are very effective weapons in the battle against cancer.
Rationalizing the struggle with enjoyment
The word and concept of rationalization do have some negative undertones at times, but it does help you in fitting something that you don’t fully understand yet into a worldview that you can understand. And that is something you need to do when you are diagnosed with cancer so that you can fight it more effectively.
Children or teenagers who already have a tumultuous emotional world, need this type of understanding more than most. Being given news of something that they only understand as a death-sentence (thanks to popular media) is harrowing. If they are given a game that depicts what is happening to them, inside their body, then they can fit this into their worldview.
But that view isn’t only true of younger people, it’s also true for adults. We as adults also have difficulty grasping emotionally laden news. And we can also benefit from it being shown to us in a visually interactive and enjoyable setting.
Once you are taken into a game, a great many positive effects can and will happen to you. One of the things, as I’ve mentioned before, is that the game can take your mind off what is happening to you. It helps to engage you and focus on positive activities, like saving the world, battling the evil monster of a kingdom or defeating some hidden underworld organization that’s up to no good.
Surprisingly, playing games aren’t the only way to get these positive feelings, learning to design, code and developing a game also concentrates the mind by using a skill and aiming for a goal. It gives you something to strive for, something to hope for. And it also delivers a product for others to enjoy, giving back to the community.
The community is also a very big part of why gaming is such a beneficial tool in fighting cancer. Games bring people together, those that don’t have cancer can interact with those that do have cancer on a common ground. Online gaming even allows you to interact with others if you can’t physically be together in the same room.
Games allow people to relate, and relatedness is a core driver of intrinsic motivation in us. You want to keep fighting, if only to keep playing that game with friends and family, to talk about what you experienced together in the virtual world or to finish that epic quest on your own. It’s an empowering experience.
By interacting and playing something fun, you are actively engaged in healing yourself and/or others. Many people may say that sounds a bit wishy-washy, positive thinking helping heal people. But it has been proven through research that those that have positive experiences, like those that video games can offer, have a higher chance of survival than those that don’t have them. As this quote from the Polygon.com article about the healing power of games shows:
“you know, fun shine[s] forth in somebody when they start to engage in something creative.”
Playing games isn’t a cure, no, but it is a method, a road to recovery and better health.