How Games Help One Writer Work Through Chronic Pain

For many people with chronic pain, a brighter future can be hard to imagine. Chronic pain is closely linked with several mental health issues, substance use issues, and it’s no wonder — it’s hard to have hope for the future when your hurt all the time.

Freelance game journalist Nathanael Peacock opens up about what it’s been like to spend the past 15 years living with chronic pain IGN,. He shares the ways games have helped him, from giving him a temporary escape to offering motivation to keep looking for ways to improve his life.

By the time I was 23 I had finished university and was working part-time. But my pain had become a lot worse. I was regularly seeing a physiotherapist, as well as a pain therapist looking for ways to help me deal with my ongoing issues without crippling my career or social life. She gave me mental blocking exercises to do, as well as physical exercises in tandem with my physio to help me try and get stronger. However, I was barely sleeping, barely able to focus at work and struggling to find the confidence to apply for bigger and better jobs. But one piece of advice stuck out in everything that pain specialist told me. She said:

“Find a way to occupy your mind for a few hours a day. Whether it’s reading books, listening to music or playing cards – find some way to give your brain a rest and let your body recover.”

She suggested that yes, I was clearly in a lot of pain. But there were also psychosomatic symptoms relating to how I dealt with my pain and my own feelings of insecurity about myself. It was about this time that I started reading about a PS3 game called Journey, I read the review on IGN, and thought I’d give it a shot. That night I did my usual meditation exercises, took my painkillers and sat down on the couch to give this game a look. One of the most common things I’d heard about Journey was to “go in blind” so I did.

Two-ish hours later I watched the credits roll, and found myself thinking about the story. I grabbed my laptop and went online to read more. I knew that I was still in pain – I wasn’t miraculously cured – but I was feeling a profound stillness. A feeling that I’d been a part of something larger than myself, and that gave me a moment of quiet reflection and pause.

 
Peacock’s story is powerful from start to finish, so head on over to IGN to read the full article. Chronic pain can be a crushing experience, but he offers hope to anyone who needs it.

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