247: The Infected

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The Infected

Horror movies may give us monsters as a way to help us confront our worst fears, but horror games go a step further: They let us put our monsters in the crosshairs and pull the trigger. John Carr recounts his experience playing Left 4 Dead to cope with his parents' cancer.

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I don't think there can be a much stronger argument for the "games as therapy" case than this, right here. Thanks, John. I can't imagine it was easy for you to write this, but I hope it helped.

Wow......that is......definitely different than most Articles i have read in my time with The Escapist.
......Nope, can't think of anything else to say.

That must have been difficult to write, and it was more moving than, I think, anything I've ever read on here.

I'm very glad you let us all experience this article, and I hoped it provided you at least a little release from your pain.

Stunning. I have to add, I feel for this guy. My mum has got cancer, though thankfully not terminal. The days until the results came were absolutely dreadful, and I can't imagine how he must've felt when he was told the worst.

Thank you for sharing this with us here. Hope it helped you in the process.

I agree with the other posters in general : this was probably the most touching and moving article I've read on the Escapist thus far...

I'm actually tearing up man, I am so increadbly sorry for your loss.

Games really are excellent therapy.

That was a touching piece, wow.

Let the doubters of the value of videogames as a constructive output read that then try to push their agenda. A wonderfully written piece.

I haven't lost any family to diseases, but my grandfather is living on borrowed time, and I know exactly how you feel. One of the main reasons I haven't jsut broken down is because I can spend some time every day not thinking.

Games for therapy is definitely true, and I'm sorry for your loss.

I feel for your losses, John.

Outstanding article. I hope that putting all that there gave you some comfort and liberation.

How horrible, thank you for sharing. I feel for you and I agree with the games are therapy statements being made in this article and thread.

I had a tear jerking me in the eyes at each page.

You just gave me a great example of game therapy. I wonder if I could use that in my futur teaching job.

Thank you John. You've inspired me.

Provocative article. My mother fought against breast cancer for nearly a decade and at the final 4 months she really did start losing her facilities. Her liver was failing miserably and when she stopped taking medication her condition went on a nose dive. She would forget things in mid conversation (making numerous conversations feel like really dark renditions of the Swamp King and the Two Guards scene from "Holy Grail") and then she stopped speaking completely.

Eventually she really went into a "zombie" mode. Weird lesions started growing on her body (likely from her body being unable to properly filter things), her skin was pale, she lost most of her hair, she slept constantly, and then would often moan, groan, and cry as opposed to actual speaking. She lost full control of everything and really ceased to be a human being.

She eventually passed on Memorial Day of 2008. I obviously mourn her loss, and especially more now as I have since then gotten married and had a child, and I know she was really looking forward to becoming a grandmother one day.

Going through those dark periods was hard, but I was helped mainly by my future wife, as she lived in her own apartment and going there was a nice escape away from the horrors at home (mom had been put on hospice care there.) Sadly Left 4 Dead wouldn't be released for a few more months and it would take even more months for me to get around to playing it, but had it been around at the time I could definitely see it being a good stress reliever.

I'm really sorry for your loss, I can't imagine how painful it must have been for you.
Really good article, it gave me a weird chill on my skin when I reached the part of your mom being "zombiefied". Also I look forward to play L4D 1&2 with you =).

Wow, that's a really heavy article. It hit home for me. Although, I was playing Eternal Ring during my loved one's passing. It still gave me something to "conquer." I can't even remember the game that much, just the fact that in the next room my grandpa was dying.

Alright, now all my coworkers are probably wondering why I'm tearing up.

Thank you John, this was a powerful piece.

My ex-girlfriend had hodgkin's lymphoma a few years ago. I recall plenty of sleepless nights playing various FPS games just destroying everything as a way of venting my feelings.

That was a great article and I'm sorry for your loss....

My uncle died of cancer near the end of last year and I was as much devastated as my cousins were. When I play games like Left 4 Dead 1&2 or Gears of War 1&2 as a means of therapy its to relieve sadness and anger. As the game begins whether its multiplayer or single rarely do I start remembering who or what I'm angry or sad about but most definitely before the end of a multiplayer round or after beating a level that anger or sadness is replaced with happiness and joy or just being able to calm down after turning the infected or other types of enemies into giant lumps of dead meat. Thanks for posting this article.

I am so terribly terribly sorry.
And I know what you mean by loved ones becoming zombies. It was just recently in fact. My grandmother has been in assisted living for a few months now, and her condition, which is a multitude of things gets worse then better then worse and so on. Eventually, it all just culminates with dementia. I went to visit her on Friday of last week, and when I went to hug her, she called me a different name, then asked where my brothers and sisters were. I have one sister. I said my name, and she didn't respond. I sat down, and watched as she attempted to figure out who I was, then give up. All of those memories, lost, except with myself. No one to share it with. She just didn't know who I was. And now I wonder if the person sitting in that bed is my grandmother anymore.

I'm sorry for your loss. Such incredibly though luck that they both had cancer, and that it was to be found out in such a way. It must have been devastating.

Also, someone link this to Jack Thompson and Micheal Atkinson.

Wow. This has to be the most touching article I've read on this website. I'm sorry for your loss.

That was more thought provoking, touching and powerful than I was expecting. A wonderful article it opened my eyes to an extent as I've never dealt with anything like this in my life. I'm sorry for your loss.

Shit, now I'm tearing up... At a public computer. Why does this site have to have such high quality articles

My condonlences on ypur losses, so it must be hard for you have to written this high quality article. My thoughts is that i agree with you games are good to relieve your anger, Hope you are well.

Last year my grandmother died suddenly and rather unexpectedly, heart failure I believe was the cause but I'd never put much interest in finding out. Not that I don't love my grandmother, but in many ways the person who died last fall was not her. My grandmother had suffered a multiple-stroke episode well over a decade ago, and immediately thereafter lost her mobility and much of her mental capacity. The connections in her brain had scrambled, leaving her with random access to her memory, long-term and short-term as well as compromising her ability to form new memories. So too did her personality change, and coupled with the memory issues, she could be a total stranger one day, and my beloved grandmother the next. While her body was strong, her mind was losing the battle, and with each passing year it was harder and harder to find the person we knew within the body before us.

OP talks about cancer turning his parents into zombies, I can relate. For over ten years my whole family watched as my father's mother, a woman of considerable strength and intellect, turned into a walking corpse (walking being metaphoric, what with being paralyzed in all but one arm).

But a symbolic attack on illness, hers, my own, or anyone else's is not a part of why I play Left4Dead. Not only would she not appreciate it, she abhorred guns and violence, but I don't personify her stroke as a villain to defeat. A stroke is much like an accident, shit happens, some times it happens to you. No, my grandmother's situation was a case of bad luck, and one can't use video games to slay karma or chance.

But... Why I play, and oh so love zombie games? I'm psychotic. I'm antisocial, generally I hate people and see the public at large as a herd of cows too stupid to see the cliff they're marching over. Zombie shooters let me repay, if only digitally, all of the irritation and injury that society has paid me, all with the benefit of zero jail time. My villain is the world around me and the people in it, a game that lets me rage against them is a welcome salve. I just wish there were more Grand Theft Auto's, and less Left4Dead's. More games where I can open up on the crowd as they are, not just because they've been deemed fair targets by way of infection or undeath.

What a welcome change of pace and quality for The Escapist. Cheers to you, John. Thanks for sharing.

So sorry for your loss John. A very emotional article, I actually welled up and I don't do that often.

Video games help with letting my anger out in a safe way.

So sorry to read about what happened to your folks John. I agree with everyone else though, this is a really moving article. I hope that writing it, like L4D, made you feel a bit better about everything.

This was an amazing article. I'm glad you found an outlet for your pain and frustration.

Sorry to hear about it, buddy. I've still got both parents, luckily, so I can't imagine how much it sucked for you.

On a different note, this seems like at least the second story I've read here lately about gaming to get through a tough time - some guy wrote about his divorce a few issues back and how Modern Warfare got him through it. If we could do something to get these stories reported outside the gaming community, it might do a lot to lesson our image as bloodthirsty maniacs who play "murder simulators" because of an innate desire to hurt others.

On another different note, your L4D nickname is amazing. Hail Jesse! :-D

I've lost my Grandmother to something very similar, so I feel you, man. I was very close to her.

A very strong argument for games as therapy, and you touched on some of the appeal of horror as well.

Your A stronger man than I........sorry for your loss.

Writing about personal loss for sympathy is kinda shoddy journalism...which is why I'm glad that's not what this is at all. =)

There was this whole talk at TED about how games can save the world; how this entire civilization before the Greeks managed to survive through this ludicrous famine by distracting themselves with a dice game made from small bones. How even today, we play games to show we can solve problems no matter how big. Sure, I think we can all agree it's escapism in a way, but if people feel better about it, who's to argue?

And yeah, it seems obvious you've been through a lot more than most of us have. I know I'd be really reluctant to write about something so personal.

That was an incredible article. Having never experienced any real loss myself, this was an eye-opening insight in to the mind of someone who has. Thank you, Mr Carr.

Also, fantastic gamertag, I am reading 'PREACHER' at this very instant.

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