Not Just Fun and Games
Not Just Fun and Games

Not Just Fun and Games

Social Isolation Symposium: Stories of hope and of heartbreak

July 3 rd 2018

You could call me an avid tabletop gamer: I regularly paint miniatures, build 3D terrain, and host gaming events. This hobby has also spawned friendships with folks who would otherwise be socially isolated. Among my merry band of uber-geeks are a paraplegic and a few unmarried adults. Two regulars are a Star-Wars-loving, middle-aged couple of thirteen years who have faced their share of challenges. She is disabled. He scarcely makes ends meet as a night-shift security guard. Both are estranged from some of their immediate family.

A few years ago, the wife was admitted to a psychiatric treatment center after suffering an anxiety attack. On his way to visit his wife a few days later, the husband was struck by a drunk driver. Though he was not seriously injured, he became unable to work, and his only car was totaled. 

Our gaming community leapt to their aid. We bought groceries and drove him to pick up medication or to visit his wife. This couple was not alone because of our mutual love of gaming and participation in its liturgies — weekly meetups at the game store or each other’s homes, sharing meals (usually pizza) while we played, and painting together. Gaming was more than fun and games. It was good for our souls.

Read more stories of hope and heartbreak in the Summer 2018 symposium on social isolation here.

Albert Cheng
Albert Cheng

Albert Cheng is a postdoctoral fellow at the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, based in Cambridge, MA.


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