Video games often get a bad rap. Some people accuse them of being mindless entertainment that appears to promote violence. Not many people believe there can be positive benefits derived from these addiction-inducing games. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For people with disabilities, video games can offer a much-needed escape and outlet for their personal stress. 33-year old Jackson Reece recently opened up to The Washington Post about the positive impact video games had on his life after he lost his arms and legs to sepsis after being paralyzed. After his challenging experience, he felt as though his life was over. But video games gave him new hope.
“I don’t think about being disabled when I’m in my gaming setup and talking to everyone,” he explained. “Just Jackson ‘pitbullreece,’ just sitting here playing, and that’s what makes me me.”
Gaming is powerful for people with disabilities as it allows them do to things virtually that they are not able to do in real life. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on mental health, specifically in helping overcome social anxiety and depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 4 people in the U.S. have a disability, so video games can provide a positive outlet for countless people.
31-year old Brian ‘Wheely’ McDonald, who has arthrogryposis, a condition that causes his hands to stiffen, shared his similar experience to Reece. “It’s my escape,” he explained. “I’m not disabled in video games. I have people telling me all the time how amazing I am at games.”
Both Reece and McDonald are members of Detroit Gamers, an online video gaming community that includes people across the country, all who have different abilities. The club was founded by Rock “RockyNoHands’ Stoutenburgh, a well-known streamer. “We all make sure we support each other and view each other, post each other,” he said of the virtual community.
Stoutenburgh and Reece both use QuadStick to play video games, which is a joystick they can control with their mouths. Stoutenburgh actually won a Guinness World Record for the most Fortnite victories achieved with a Quadstick. The Quadstick was developed inn 2012 by Fred Davidson. “If they can play a video game with their friends at a good level, then that helps them interact and breaks down the barrier and isolation that their circumstances place them in,” he said of how his invention has revolutionized the disabled community.