Because Games Matter – How Video Games Saved My Life – Extra Credits

Because Games Matter – How Video Games Saved My Life – Extra Credits


Welcome to the third and final installment in our December series of your stories on why games matter. Today’s is brought to us by Zhenghua Yang, who also goes by Z. Enjoy! Yesterday I spent three hours hanging out with some of my best friends whom I haven’t seen for years. And today, with only three hours of time, I accomplished a major goal in life, and I feel absolutely amazing. What did I do? I played three hours of League of Legends. And that may not seem like a big thing to you, But to even be able to do that is unbelievable to me. Video games define our world. They have played a huge part in my life, and I would not be here today without them. It all started in my freshman year of college. The day before Halloween, I began having a steady nosebleed. Being the introverted nerve that I am, I continued to study for my midterm the next day while trying to plug it up with paper tissues. It wasn’t until later that night that I knew I needed help: I continuously choked on my own blood trying to get some sleep. After a friend ardently urged me to go, I brought myself up to the college health center to get my blood tested. My nosebleed lasted 14 hours that day, and it turned out that the reason was that my platelets were at a mere 22 K per liter of blood, the normal range being 150 to 400 K. I was instructed to go home, get some rest, and come back the next morning for further monitoring. Halloween came and I went back to the health center first thing in the morning. The result was, unfortunately, not good. My platelets were now at 20k per liter of blood. Dropping 2K overnight. The doctor told me to go to the City Hospital ER immediately. As soon as I arrived at the hospital, the staff went nuts. Nurses would stab me with countless needles for blood testing and doctors would conduct interviews with classes of students following them around. I was confused and frightened. I finally called one of the nurses and asked them what is causing all of the commotion. He pulled out my paperwork and pointed to a number and my heart sank. It turns out that, due to the number being so low, the previous doctor misread my platelet count. It was not 20k that morning, it was 2k, and it was dropping rapidly. Within an hour I began bleeding out of my body, out of my nostrils, and countless bruises began to take form. I quickly lost consciousness due to low blood pressure. Hours later I woke up in a dark and gloomy room. A nurse walked in and explained how they were unable to find the cause of my illness. She told me I was gonna die in a few hours. She handed me my will and left me in silence. Miraculously, I didn’t die that night. However, I ended up hospitalized for two straight years. From the age of 18 to 20. These were the two most difficult years I have ever had. Not because of the pain or because therapy was difficult. It was hard, because I had lost the hope to accomplish anything in life. I no longer had a future. I lost contact with all of my friends, I had people who later told me they thought I was dead. My family suffered alongside me. My parents didn’t know what to do or how to make me feel better. We all lived with the constant danger that I could die at any moment. Through these two years, through my loneliness and despair, I turned to the one thing that gave me meaning: playing video games. I began playing all sorts of games: single-player games like Final Fantasy or Braid and multiplayer games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends. In these single-player RPGs I regained the will to continue living. Helping people and saving the world in games like Chronotrigger would give me greater meaning in life. Even though the game wasn’t real, it was the closest I had to having any purpose to survive. Then there were the multiplayer games. With over 10,000 hours logged in mmorpgs I made friends from all over the world. These internet friends of mine didn’t always even speak English, but they would check up on me, making sure that I’d been taking my medicine and asking me, if I’d been getting rest. Not only that, one of my online friends was a medical researcher and he connected me with some of the world’s best hematologists. With his recommendations I met with doctors who gave me critical advice that kept me alive. The amazing thing is, to this day, I still don’t know that friends real name. By playing video games, by gaining a new perspective on life I slowly began to recover. By 2011 I was able to go back to school to continue my education. However, I couldn’t help that think back and ask myself: these games, like Final Fantasy and League of Legends, they weren’t designed to help me and yet, they did. What if we began creating games with the intention to help others? That’s when I began my career in creating value driven games. I started Serenity Forge, a game development and publishing company that focuses on meaningful games. I began by turning the story of my illness into a non-fictional visual novel called Loving Life and released it online for free. Since then we’ve created dozens of games and interactive experiences that would inspire art, foster education and promote health. Through my near fatal illness and my newfound passion in the game industry I learned a valuable lesson: videogames are no longer just toys for kids and we must begin treating them with a practical perspective. Games can teach practical skills, they can advance science, they can heal trauma and they can solve conflicts. Two gamers can play side by side virtually in a game of League of Legends working together to achieve a common goal. They don’t need to share the same language, the same culture, even the same world beliefs. It doesn’t matter if they’re American or Chinese, Israeli or Palestinian. Our next Nobel Peace prize winners are no longer just gonna be the influential artists or the policy generators, but maybe, instead, it’ll be the kid who’s in a garage right now creating the next big game that brings the world together through play. When I was going through chemotherapy, when I was on my deathbed, I had no hope of a future in the end. In the end, video games saved my life, and they just might save yours, too. Thanks again to Z for his story and to all of you for watching! Extra Credits is going to go on a bit of a break to catch up with the family for the holidays and to get some much-needed rest. We will be back in mid-January with our regular content. Until then, I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday! Take care of each other. We’ll see you soon!

100 thoughts on “Because Games Matter – How Video Games Saved My Life – Extra Credits”

  1. Z here, thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story. It means so much to me to be able to tell others what I went through, and more importantly, perhaps to inspire other game developers to join me on the journey of creating more meaningful, value-driven games to do good for our world. Thank you everyone again at the EC team, you guys are amazing!

  2. i just saw Matthew Santoro's recent video of bizarre unexplained diseases part 2, and one of them was bleeding calf disease or syndrome, it doesn't matter which

    he ended that one with "let's hope it doesn't spread to humans"

    Z, do you remember eating beef a little while before the nosebleed???

    i am really scared right now

  3. hearing these stories gives me a warm feeling inside, i've always known that games mean more then just a recreational waste of ones time, that they help us better understand ourselves and what seems counter intuitive to what your doing, help us deal with the real world at our own pace, im hoping these videos of inspiring tales and gaming's practical use's tword a better world, can help my loved ones understand why this medium means so much to me and make me feel less like a stranger in their eyes.

  4. Another advantage of games is a controlled environment to practice emotional regulation, like keeping clam through the repeated deaths in Dark Souls.

  5. holy FUCK that is scary. I can't even imagine getting a nosebleed one day and then being told I was going to die the next. Amazing story and video.

  6. Respect to this dude; He played life with 10% max HP and Hemo trait.

    Dark Humor aside, congrats on your survival. Truly hope inducing.

  7. i knew i heard a story about some one learning of a cure to their ailment on world of warcraft

    last week a guild mate recommended a chiropractic technique to me.

    my next appointment to ask my doctor about it is in 3 days.

  8. This needs to be the headline for anyone who's unsure how video games can help people. Video games saved this guys life.

  9. Hello, what if i want to tell my story of how i discover my life purpose because of halo. (English is not my mother language, so sorry if i have some mistakes)

  10. You guys are amazing, for everything you do and how much you support those around you. You are among all of 3 channels that while it may not be readily apparent, has saved and improved my life and pushed me to go further than I ever would have on my own. I just wanted to thank you wholeheartedly.

  11. I'm glad it all turned out great in the end and I'm also glad you guys shared this. I'm a new sub and I feel like this channel is what our video game culture needs more of.

  12. final installment? noooo. we need more Because Games Matter! please! there's submitting from emails and maybe the comment section. i love these videos and have shared them with my non-gamer and gamer friends

  13. I feel every developer and everyone who wants a career in games development should hear these stories. I just binged all three episodes of this mini series, and it's made me even more determined to get a game out

  14. video games keep me from getting depressive cause i dont have any real friends and no ambition to go out, i just go to work and thats it

  15. Wow my mum actually got this kind of illness. She also dropped to 2,000 platelet ( but not under ) and had lots of hematomas spontaneously appearing. She stayed at hospital for like 2 weeks, with daily analysis and researches as like in Dr. House. Finally they managed to find out it was an auto-immune pathology : Werlhof's syndrome leading to Immune thrombocytopenic purpura, with the risk of general intense bleeding ( the biggest risk was for the brain and the organs ). It turned it it was the spleen behind this the whole time, and got removed, but phew that was close and scary.

  16. That was such an inspirational story Z. I once made a game for a Serenity Forge game jam so it was heart-warming and a surprise to learn the origin behind that company.

  17. I have the condition ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, ya try pronouncing that). ITP may occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks platelets. I have had below the normal level for platelets for 12 years. My last 10 blood draws have registered at >10,000. But never have I experienced anything like that. I will look up to you Z. And things can always get worse.

  18. Every now and again, while I've got youtube on autoplay while I'm doing something else as background noise, this video comes back. And every time, I go on a feels trip. Amazing story, and truly an example of what good can come of games

  19. not.. uh… related to the subject, but what do you guys think of the gameplay in the world ends with you (original name: subarashi sekai)? its a game i love.

  20. Holy crap. These videos are so much better to watch and more impactful when you are no longer emotionally dead.

  21. In my entire life only 3 videos made me cry a lot:
    1) Kimi no Uso
    2) Derpy Hooves first talking in My Little Pony
    3) These 3 videos.
    Damn games also helped me a lot to survive bullying and a bad family, that's why I'm becoming a developer now. Thank you Sara Winters, Daniel Starkey and Zhenghua Yang, thank you so much for sharing your histories. SO INSPIRATING!

  22. Here's a little story I have about games that matter. I was about 6 or 7and I was told I had a virus, not like a life or death situation just a very crappy virus. So I took a bunch of stupid test and then had to go to a hospital and got a bunch of blood drawn. I felt like crap but then, oh then, they wheeled out a flat tv that was in all of the rooms, with a wii and a pile of games. I could not move out of my bed, but I had my mother with me. We piled through the games and then decided to play a simple carnival game and my mom told me stories of how she hated carnies. You see, my parent where born in the 70s and grew up with Atari and my father, especially grew up with the commodore Vic 20. They grew up very different lives but loved games like frogger and battle zone. Both of there jobs include technology and while they have have a family to see grow up they can sit down and try playing arms or Mario kart. I think playing games and getting a little bit of fun while being stabbed by needles and having my blood sucked out of me, helped me try to continue the pain. I hate when hear about the news talking about video games being evil and causing death, I think about how video games have been very influential on my life. My dad buying a game on the App Store not realizing it was walking dead, helped me realize I like horror like the walking dead. My dad and mom talking about there old technology, helped me like weird old things. I fell like video games have helped me become a better person. whenever I think about a situation were I have to be positive in a bad situation, I remember playing carnival games, with my mother, stuck in a bed in a bleak hospital with a blood bag connected to my veins, and smiling.
    Thank you for reading my story.

  23. HOLY CRAP!
    I've never been almost in tears… and then so suddenly dying on the floor laughing as in this moment: 2:31 "MIRACULOUSLY!"
    LOL Like Ta-Da! … in the suit… XD
    Seriously though, they told him he had hours to live and he survived for years??? Good for him, but what kind of diagnosis…

  24. Am I getting tied up in one minor detail, or are any other geeks out there bugged that he never said what he was ill with?

  25. first of all great video, ok so something really weird happend to me while I was watching this, in the minute 2:18 I started to feel really heavy and dizzy, and I thought OMG WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME, everything went dark, then 1 minute later I wake up on the floor with my dog looking at me, and then I realize what happend ,
    I had fainted, at first I thought that maybe it happend cause I was staying up to late, but no, it was only 11 pm, and I usually sleep till 1 am , maybe the video cause this or something, if anybody has an idea of what might cause this please tell me.

  26. I'm curing myself from cancer right now and I was on similar situation and I can agree that video games are IMPORTANT, So thank you for this video and for all your videos bcs they are g8 & Press X to Jason

  27. came here from his talk after reading the comments, i cried even more here having heard he was told by the nurse that he had hours to live and had him write his will. this story is amazing thanks to his medical friend that got him the help he needed.

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