I love video games and the culture that surrounds it, that obviously comes as no surprise! And it upsets me when the culture, and all of those that are active within it, face heavy scrutiny over the unsavory actions of a few.
Many of the seemingly anti-game advocates haven't considered the duality of the product and the culture - the light and the dark. They only seem to want to reside in the shadows. But what about the concept of video games as teacher, historian, poet, artist? Video games as catharsis?
Terry Bolt, mother of comedian and actress Andie Bolt, was one of the many people who have sought solace and peace of mind in the realm of video games. She was diagnosed in 2010 with neuroendocrine tumors (NET), a rare form of cancer that is often misdiagnosed. She was informed that she only had 6 months left to live.
...He (the doctor) made it pretty plain that I was totally full of fast growing cancer that I had for about 6 months, and he gave the impression that this was it.
But, thankfully, after undergoing therapy at Cedar-Sinai hospital, 15 pounds of tumor was removed and the waiting game began.
Pass It Forward
When Terry's sister, Teddy's husband passed away, Teddy began playing World of Warcraft as a means to cope with her immeasurable loss. Finding it a great therapeutic source, Teddy passed WoW onto Terry, and she hasn't looked back since.
I couldn't believe that world, that fantastical world, that was there that I could be a part of!
Terry found a world that she could lose herself in a community of people that she could talk to about her cancer, because she simply didn't want to worry her family. The WoW community was easier for Terry to speak with about her illness because they're further away.
After speaking with Nerdist's Chris Hardwick on the Nerdist podcast, he insisted on sending them to BlizzCon and that Andie should document the experience to highlight the hidden terrors of NET. After explaining this to Terry, she had the most positive reaction.
Her face lit up up as she realized by sharing her story of her battle with NET/Carcinoid Cancer, others may not have to suffer with a delayed diagnosis.
After seeing her mom's reaction to the game, Andie decided to research gaming as a cathartic tool, finding many other heartbreaking tales along the way. She decided that the film had to become bigger, something more than a tale about one person, they had to "shine a light on how gaming can be used as a healing and coping mechanism", and speak up for the other gamers who are dealing with great health related trauma.
Making a project you really, truly care about causes people to come out of the woodwork; beautiful, kind humans who want to impact others in a positive way.
After visiting BlizzCon and a year of filming completed, Andie Bolt took to Kickstarter to help fund the first cut of the project. Entitled WoW MoM, the docu has amassed $47,737, meeting their $45,000 goal and surpassing it!
They have collated over 150 hours of film on various formats and "knocked a lot off Terry Bolt's bucket list", so all that's left is the requirement of a professional editor to jump aboard and help the cause. They have even taken to Twitter in order to raise awareness and support for the cause. Using #AcceptThisQuest, people can tell their own tales and help spread the word around the internet. Here's the Kickstarter video for WoW MoM...
The Kickstarter page is also filled with inspiring and brave people sharing their moving experiences within WoW.
It's sad to hear so many people still believe video games to not be a viable form of storytelling, to hear them dismiss them as simply "a waste of time." Games transcend storytelling in an active way that puts you in the body of the protagonist and has you carry out the plot.
You visit other galaxies and fantasy worlds, unlocking the mystery behind whatever occurrence is occurring and it's you who scores the winning goal in a cup final, finally bringing home silverware to your much maligned team.
Isn't that exciting? Being able to actively take part in a story? When I think of immersive storytelling in games, I think of games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, To The Moon, The Legend Of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Never Alone, This War of Mine, The Stanley Parable and The Last Of Us to name but a few. Games that teach, hold a mirror up to society and, most of all, allow you to lose yourself in the narrative.
I was lucky enough to have a copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to disappear into when my family was hit by a cataclysmic loss, and a strong foundation of friends to help carry the weight. I am eternally grateful for them and am very proud of the Bolt's for making this documentary and highlighting NET, hopefully allowing others the chance of avoiding great heartache.
All the best, guys and thanks!
Do check out the Bolt's Kickstarter page when you have a chance.