Teenage cancer survivor creates social gaming network for young people in treatment

A teenage cancer survivor has started a non-profit organization aiming to help children and teenagers in treatment connect with other patients through video games, reports The Huffington Post.

Founder Steven Gonzalez was inspired to start the Survivor Games group due his "love for video games" and experience being treated at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital in Texas. Gonzalez was diagnosed with a form of leukemia five years ago with a two percent chance of survival. After undergoing chemotherapy and a double cord blood transplant he had to remain in a sterile environment for 100 days. While isolated, Gonzalez would play video games, and during that time built Play Against Cancer, a video game tailored to cancer patients.

Gonzalez wrote that the program will utilize the "healing power of video games" to create a social network among young people undergoing treatment and help them find common ground.

"This social network allows teens with cancer to join other cancer patients who are the same age and begin to find that sense of normalcy again," he wrote. "Through this online group they won't feel isolated or different, and they will be able to talk to other kids about something they enjoy — video games."

The Survivor Games will be similar to a virtual arcade where players can chat, take part in games or watch each other play. According to Gonzalez, he has been working with experienced entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders, and hopes to launch the program later this year. Gonzales is also aiming to establish a partners network with both medical and video game industry personnel.

"[The Survivor Games will] not only fill the physical void but it will also support the patient's emotional and social needs by allowing those who are shy or self-conscious to reach out to others like them in a non-threatening environment," writes Gonzalez. "Appearances won't matter for those who are self-conscious about how they look. It will break the barriers of physical isolation by encouraging interaction to take place, both in the hospital and at home."

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