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Gamer Who Left House 10 Times In 7 Years Creates Game To Improve Social Skills

(Source: ladbible.com)

If you’re reading this then you probably love a good gaming session or two. Okay, maybe three or four. But you also know when to stop, most times. Everyone’s guilty of playing for hours on end, probably for much longer than is necessarily healthy. But for one man, this kind of thing happened daily.

In fact, he was so engrossed in video games that he spent seven years wearing nothing but his dressing gown, sat behind a desk, exploring virtual words non-stop.

Following a difficult childhood spent moving in and out of care because his mother was ill, alongside the stress of starting A-levels, Billy Brown, now 24, isolated himself from the outside world. He dropped out of college after breaking his ankle, and turned to playing video games all day every day, enveloping himself in an online world of “echo chambers”.

Billy Brown played video games non-stop for seven years. Credit: BBC
Billy Brown played video games non-stop for seven years. Credit: BBC

He told the BBC: “Years and years were just spent sitting at my computer.

“I would only go outside for doctor’s appointments or dentist’s appointments.

“I would never go outside to socialise or interact with other people. My entire existence was online.”

Brown left his house less than ten times over his seven-year stretch, during which time he also managed to watch over his mother. He said: “I can count the number of times I went out in a seven-year period on both of my hands.

“I wasn’t taking care of myself, I was only taking care of my mother.

“There were times when I was suicidal. It really took its toll on me.

“I wasn’t sure why I was alive, why I was here… I realised if I didn’t do something I wouldn’t be here in a year or two years.”

Billy Brown has now overcome a difficult period in his life. Credit: BBC
Billy Brown has now overcome a difficult period in his life. Credit: BBC

Thankfully, Brown did do something. He contacted the Real Ideas Organisation’s (RIO) Game Changer programme for help, and now, on the road to full recovery, he’s created a tabletop board game to support others struggling with social issues.

A small group of players meet once a week to enjoy his role-playing game, which requires participants to improve “characters” with points achieved through completing challenges in the real world.

“It is my way of giving back, my way of trying get people to interact and socialise,” Brown said. “Something had to change [in my life] and I don’t want people to have to get to that point before they make a change.”

The board game created to help others with social issues. Credit: BBC
The board game created to help others with social issues. Credit: BBC

One player, who rarely left her home, says the unnamed game was “really fun” and they “feel like [they] really connected as a group.” Another added, “There was just something about it,” wanting to know when they could play again.

George Hardwick, from the Real Ideas Organisation, said, “Billy had essentially been living in his dressing gown for seven years.

“He has gone from being severely agoraphobic to now hosting a game that is helping young people to explore their gifts and talents and how they might be able to share those with the world in a way that can really support them.”

Player draws character in Billy Brown's new board game. Credit: BBC
Player draws character in Billy Brown’s new board game. Credit: BBC

Billy is now working at his first job, as a youth support worker. Hopefully he and his fellow tabletop players continue to move forward in their life, and I really hope to see his board game in shops some day – who knows how many people it could help.

Got thoughts on this story? You can let us know.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

More Info: ladbible.com

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