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View Full Version : Legally Blind Gamer: How Gaming Changed My Life and may give me a Cure



Mangajedi
4th Oct 2013, 01:28
I’m a college student, an artist, and a hardcore gamer. I suffer with Retinopathy of Prematurity- a disorder I’ve had since birth that is one of the most common causes of visual loss in children and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness. This hasn’t stopped me from doing what I enjoy- gaming. All my life, games have helped give me a creative and immersive look into worlds that I unfortunately haven't been able to experience myself.

Metal gear solid on the PSX was the first game I ever got completely lost in. I’d play the demo of MGS hundreds of times at my Dad’s house and when the full game was released, I played it hundreds of times more. Metal Gear was a gateway into playing other stealth/tactical games such as Splinter Cell, Hitman, and Rainbow Six. I've been playing every hit title IGN has recommended since the website's creation.

I am a cartoonist/illustrator and due to my vision, I have worked myself through countless migraines, however, video games have helped me realize that I have talents and skills that I have honed despite my condition. The most inspiring artist I have never had the chance to meet is the great Yoji Shinkawa, character designer for the Metal Gear series; first seeing his artwork in my teen years made me want to push myself as hard as I could

All my hard work I've been putting into art is paying off too, because I've got some great graphic novel concepts and this is only the beginning for me!

I found out that I was accepted into a stem cell treatment program at Beike Biotechnology in China, a leading biotech company that focuses on adult stem cell research for treating incurable diseases such as Retinopathy of Prematurity.

Below I attached some of the letter I had written to Beike to share with you all

"I am writing this letter because I have been accepted for a stem cell treatment at Beike Biotechnology in China. This treatment is the only option I have to improve my eyesight. So far there is nothing else medical science has been able to come up with. I am willing to travel to China for this because it could improve my quality of life and in turn, improve the life of my family.

I have had some difficulty with college because I have repeated math twice already and failed. This is due to my eyesight making note taking difficult in Science and Math courses. I have note takers that can help but I feel that I've lost some of what I'm learning if I'm not taking notes myself. I am also a graphic designer and Illustrator. My degree is going to be in Computer Graphics and I am very talented at it despite my disability. Graphic design was not my first choice in college. I fell back on Graphic Design because it is a hobby of mine since I was young and I love drawing my own cartoons and characters. I originally wanted to serve my community and serve my country to the best of my ability.

My fears are that even with my talent and skill with drawing there are still going to be employers who aren’t quick to hire legally blind artists who don’t drive as well. There are times I’ve turned in applications for part time jobs and you can tell they are hesitant by the way their tone of voice shifts and they give you the line “Well your application is great, I’ll let you know about the job as soon as I finish interviewing other applicants.” Having this treatment in China would help me acquire better jobs and do the things that everyone should be able to do.

Once I heard at the age of 17 that this treatment existed I spent a lot of my time researching it and biding my time until it could be used on people like me. When I got the acceptance letter from Keith Thomas at Beike I felt like I’d won the lottery. To me, this Is my lottery, this IS a million dollars, this is something that means more than any amount of money. It’s a chance to work harder, to push myself farther, I’d get off disability- which I hadn’t received until last year and was reluctant to get in the first place- and work with my own two hands and to my fullest degree humanly possible. Once I saw the price of the treatment- $18,500 dollars my heart sank. This treatment is the only chance I have to try and improve my vision and having better vision would help my family.

My mother is 80% deaf and it’s only getting worse. My fiancé has Lupus and is recovering from a brain tumor removal from last August. My family is not wealthy and we do live paycheck to paycheck. I always thought of my career choices as a way to get out of the house, have a place of my own with my own family, and provide for that family and my community for the better. I’ve lived my entire life with this disease and I don’t have a single idea how normal people see. This disease has taken a lot of opportunities away from me before I even had a chance to work for them. Being that this treatment could be my only chance at better eyesight and in turn a better life- it feels like it’s worth taking a chance to me. Seeing as I’ve worked through all the constant migraines and headaches brought on by eye strain and still been able to work alongside normal people, draw as well as I do, and live without accepting defeat it would be a shame to have a chance at this treatment and the cost is the one thing that would end up keeping me from success. I always imagine- with all the headaches I go through to create some of the drawings I do, to do all the class work I do, what would It be like to have this treatment and push my craft and education even farther?

- Brandon C. Parks"

This is a blog post that I had made on IGN and it was noticed.

The reason I bring this up is because Deus Ex Human Revolution was more than a game for me. I don't think any of you developers or moderators may see this. I don't blame you, things are busy, and there is a lot going on in the world. That game made me really think about changing my life,

what would it be like to have my eyes fixed?

Would I do it at the cost of being less human?

The thought was something that struck a personal cord with me until the game's release and I STILL PLAY IT TODAY. I love that game and every person behind it. It's message was really something to think about and few games can do that aside from it, Metal Gear, Splinter Cell, and Hitman. These games have all been able to immerse me and fill a gap that I had in my heart due to my disability.

This treatment is something that could help my eyes. I'm very nervous about raising the money, but I am also nervous about the treatment itself. I always told myself that I will go through any amount of pain to get my eyes fixed because it will lead to a better life for my family.

My fiance' deserves a house of our own. Right now, with student loans, my classes, and my mother's bills it's hard to do myself. My mother is deaf and my sister wouldn't be able to do it alone so I use my disability pay and the few hours I can get to help them all. I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. I love gaming and I love it's community and I have always felt comfortable venting on here.

I don't want to drag this on and bother any of you, but this treatment is something that could really have a HUGE life changing effect on me. I never gripped that until I saw that the treatment was actually going to happen, all I have to do is raise the money for it- sadly I'm a college student so the price is out of my reach.

I wouldn't ask any of you to donate. I just want help to spread my cause around. My treatment is not going to just impact me, it WILL make my eyes better, but the main thing is it will improve the lives of my family as a whole. I'll be able to finish my classes without migraines, no eye strain at the boards, i'd be able to drive like a NORMAL person, and I could probably join the military and/or police academy. (I'm leaning towards being a cop as well as being a cartoonist and graphic designer with my degree. My fiance' would hate being apart and being in the military I wouldn't be able to take care of her being worlds away.) That's another thing entirely, my fiance' is the true hero.

She's gone through a brain tumor last August (healing up just fine from that and she's back to normal.), she's torn both ACL's (Also just healed those...she's still taking it slow on her right foot.), and she's had Lupus...not the life threatening case of Lupus, but it still tears me up inside not to be able to afford her medicine and a place for her to live at the same time. She deserves the most amazing and comfortable house with the best bed in the world. She goes through Lupus, which is worse than my disease, and yet she's always smiling and inspiring people. I want my treatment to make HER life better.

Well, i've really said all I can say. I don't mean to ramble guys, I've been typing letter after letter about my treatment and responding to comments on IGN about my treatment- which they were kind enough to put on their homepage- and I seem to be droning on so I will just leave you with this.

Have a good night. To all of you I am grateful even if you just read this. I don't want you to donate, times are hard, so I'll ask you to just spread my link and story around. To the developers- you guys are great at what you do and with my artwork I aim to do something similar. It's your work that inspires me to work day after day with migraines while working in the classes and on the artwork that I do. Your games touch people and mean a lot more than you might realize.

Here's my official patient link for donations
https://m.helphopelive.org/hhlweb/mobile/patient/CAD7D4ED-0BB7-4B80-C93AA77864C48322

Good night everyone. :D

HERESY
4th Oct 2013, 05:48
....I wish you the best.

JCpies
4th Oct 2013, 14:34
Good luck working with Tai Yong! Enjoy China (if you can) and I hope everything goes well with the treatment/research.

Mangajedi
4th Oct 2013, 16:31
Thank you. Nice reference btw. I actually kept thinking of TYM when I heard about this treatment haha. I've never been out of the U.S. so I'm a little nervous, but it'll be worth it if everything goes as it should.

I appreciate you guys reading all that.