How can a video game improve our understanding of what it is like to live with debilitating fatigue? I recently had the opportunity to find out. My daughter, Sam, recommended that I check out a game called Robin. Robin is free on the Steam platform. One of the things I love about video games on the Steam platform is that they are often more than just a game. They make a statement, and can even teach players what it’s like to live in circumstances they have never experienced before. In the case of Robin, players learn what it’s like to live with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Last week, I shared how cancer-related fatigue affects patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer, or who have had treatment in the past. Some cancers, themselves cause fatigue due to the burden they place on the patient’s physiological systems. This week I am going to share a game which allows players to get a taste of how that fatigue affects patients. While the game focuses on what it’s like to live with chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer patients (and all patients with chronic illness that contribute to debilitating fatigue) can relate to the experience the game, Robin, illustrates.
Robin’s sales page describes the game like this:
“Robin is a free short slice of life vignette that was made to give some visibility to an invisible illness – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or myalgic encephalopathy). Live out three days in the life of Robin, a CFS sufferer, and try to manage your time as best you can. What you decide to do in these days is up to you, but know that there is never such a thing as a perfect ending. Built around the concept of spoon theory, Robin is a quick, relatable insight into the struggles of living with CFS/ME.”
I could completely understand Robin’s life. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia in 2009. Three years later, my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Every day we have to make the kinds of choices Robin makes in this game. We have the same internal dialogue when we go to bed each night.
Two things really resonated with me
The pile of laundry on the floor. It never seems to disappear. Isn’t that the way it is with laundry? If it’s not dirty laundry, it’s a pile of clean laundry that’s waiting to be folded and put away.
Deciding whether or not to go to the movies. Fun things are just as tiring as not-fun things. Yet it’s important not to neglect your relationships.
It’s often difficult for people to understand energy management, yet many of the people you encounter each day decide how to allocate their time and energy and always end up coming up short at the end of the day.
When you are living with cancer
Depending on where you are at in your disease process, and your treatment, energy management could be as stringent as only doing one thing each day (or even none). There is often a feeling of embarrassment in this, especially when you see so many active people filling each day to the brim with work and play. They seem so efficient, so productive. And, you’re happy for them, but you might also feel a little jealous and a little ashamed.
In only a few minutes, Robin puts that feeling into words and moving pictures. It’s totally free to download Steam, as well as the game, Robin. I highly recommend playing it and sharing it, to raise awareness of chronic fatigue syndrome and energy management issues that affect a host of diseases, including cancer.
Have you ever played a game which helped you to become more empathetic toward others? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com
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I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker