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Steven Gonzalez Headshot

The Healing Power Of Video Games

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Video games are one of those things you either love or hate, but either way, everyone has an opinion about them. For me, video games were a big part of my childhood, but most people see them only as entertainment. As I've grown, I've seen the healing power of video games.

When I was diagnosed with leukemia in the sixth grade, I was ripped away from my world of friends. Through all the craziness of my treatment, video games provided some normalcy. As a cancer patient, that's all you really want -- something normal. Something familiar that provides a link to the world you once knew. Also, video games are how I made my first friends in the hospital. A hospital can be a hard place to make friends, but when you have a common ground, like video games, making friends becomes a lot easier.

During my cord blood transplant at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, video games provided a relief that no medication could. I was like Pinocchio, except I had tubes instead of strings to pull me down -- tubes that shot and branched out from my chest and arm carrying my new cells and medication into my body. In the beginning, I couldn't sleep (even though I was given enough medication to put an elephant to sleep) because I felt nauseous all the time. One night my dad flipped on a video game, Ultimate Alliance, and we started fighting bad guys. After we saved the world, we turned the game off, and within seconds I was out cold.

I love video games and I think there is so much more potential to them than we realize. Beyond entertainment, we've only scratched the surface of what these games can do. For example, video games using the Xbox 360 Kinect are being used to help rehabilitate people with injuries by giving them a fun objective that requires movement. For people with knee injuries, video games with a kicking action help to rehabilitate them faster than traditional exercises. For people who are bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound, video games provide them with a connection to a community where their disabilities are not an issue. These are just a few examples of what video games can do.

Imagine all the powers video games can have for the world of teen cancer, where patients are in desperate need of a sense of belonging. I know I am not the only teen who has found comfort through gaming and I that's why I envision creating a social network that will connect teen cancer patients through the healing power of video games.

All it'll take is a little imagination and an open mind to video games.