On Therapy and Dependency
The final category of problems that players described using MMOs as a coping mechanism for revolved around physical challenges.
Distraction from Physical Pain
Some players mentioned playing MMOs as an effective alternative to taking painkillers to manage chronic pain or pain resulting from a recent injury.
I suffer chronic back pains, and an MMO can help take my thoughts away from that. [CoH, M, 40]
The RL issue is total knee replacement - pain avoidance is much easier in game than otherwise; in game I can reduce pain medication [EQ, F, 61]
Dealing with surgery and the loss of a whole year athletically was a pretty tough thing for me to take. It was right around then that Guild Wars first came out. Ultimately, I became a better Guild Wars player but a worse person. It effectively made me forget about my injury and enjoy my three months without much pain. Though in hindsight, I wish i had not played nearly as much as i did and it took quite some time to rebound back into sports. [GW, M, 18]
And for others, MMOs provide a way to cope with the social and emotional effects of being physically handicapped.
I suppose that one of the reasons I enjoy playing is that, unlike in RL (disabled and a wheelchair user), there are no physical barriers in the game. I can go where I want and do what I want without suffering for it (with the exception of making my painful hands and wrists worse through playing for too long). Also, other players don't know that I'm disabled unless I choose to tell them, so there's none of the awkwardness of RL; most people are invariably unsure how to interact with someone in a wheelchair … still! [WoW, F, 50]
Well, I'm ill and disabled and I can't work. I have plenty of free time on my hands and MMOs have helped me spend that time online where no one can see my state and where I get to be at the same level as everyone else for once. It reinforces my self-esteem since I'm a good gamer ... I think. I tend to be more vocal and outgoing online than in real life. People get to know me better online than in real life because in real life they would probably just ignore me like they do now. I get to have some social contacts online because I don't get to have colleagues or friends in real life. [GW, F, 32]
To speed up load-times on multi-page articles, comments are now only loaded on the last page of an article.