My disabled son’s amazing gaming life in the World of Warcraft

Originally published at:

The original story is written in Norweign by NRK all copyright belongs to NRK.

The full English translated story can be found here:

A very moving and inspiring story about a man called Mats from Norway. Mats suffered from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; a rare muscular disorder which leads to the degeneration of the muscular system before they can even develop properly. Mats spent his life in a wheelchair and was rarely able to leave his house.

This didn't stop Mats from leading a meaningful and happy life. He found freedom from his disability by gaming online, mainly in a game called World of Warcraft.

The article explains how Mats was able to conceal his true identity online and gamed with a 30 person guild that had no idea what his real-life situation looked like. This illuminating story reminds me of 'Parzival', the main character from the book Ready Player One, wherein a virtual world called The Oasis, he was a superstar but in reality, he was broke and lived in a very tough situation.

Mats found belonging, purpose, motivation, happiness and had a reason live all because of a virtual world that could offer him something the real world could not. Online he was Lord Ibelin Redmoore and sometimes Jerome Walker, the virtual avatars he gave himself which gave him a new identity and an opportunity to escape the real world. In World of Warcraft Mats was able to run, battle, complete quests, level up, gain new weapons and spells all while socialising with people he had never met.
These relationships became very real, as real as any physical one and they lasted 9 years.

In 2014, Mats passed away. Mats was a very private person and only spoke at a very private level to a handful of Starlight's guild members. Eventually, however all of the guild became aware of Mats condition, and that he had passed away.

The guild members all clubbed together to pay for several members of the team to attend Mats funeral, with one member speaking as part of the ceremony.

Some of the messages left for Mats parents read:
"He transcended his physical boundaries and enriched the lives of people all over the world," read one. "Mats' passing has hit me very hard. I can't put into words how much I'll miss him," said the next. "I don't believe that one single person is the heart of Starlight. But if one was, it would have been him."

Now on the anniversary of Mats passing members from the Starlight guild light candles in memory of their friend who meant so much to them.

This story eloquently shows the world that gaming can have a life-changing impact on people. Mats more than most was able to tap into the amazing powers that can be harnessed through virtual social groups. I too, to a much smaller degree felt this social community, that virtual cohesion between people that I had never met. When a guild, clan or team is gaming towards a common goal that gives everyone purpose, belonging and happiness, regardless of the real world.

Take care everyone, Jonny.

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