Gamer: Playing Through The Pain

Scene from "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" video game by Rockstar displayed on monitor during press conference on Capitol Hill sponsored by the National Institute on Media and the Family, attended by Joseph Liebermann, Betty McCollum, and syndicated game reviewer Steven Kentin. AP

GameCore is CBSNews.com's gaming column written by William Vitka.


Of all the tasks we puny humans take on in life, there is nothing easier than pointing fingers. Escaping blame and choosing a scapegoat is often learned as a child. It is hopefully unlearned by adulthood – "hopefully" being the operative word.

This is not always the case, however, especially when it comes to people like Jack Thompson, Hillary Clinton, Yee Leland, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Joe Lieberman and other politicians and activists pushing for legislation of video game content, particularly violent games.

Maybe, maybe, it is just that lawmakers do not see enough concrete evidence that video games are, or can be, an extremely positive influence on people. It is very simple. Look to the gamers to see the positives of gaming. Look to gamers like Steven Burkeland.

Burkeland just turned 18 and he says he's been playing video games for 12 years – ever since his father bought him a Nintendo GameBoy. He emailed GameCore saying that, although CBS News might not even bother to talk to him, video games have been an important and healthy part of his life. He says a primary reason is that he was born with a defect called club foot.

"Simply put, club foot is a birth defect of the foot that occurs once per 1,000 live births in the U.S.," Burkeland told me. "The foot has a typical appearance of pointing downwards and twisted inwards. In most cases, it can be corrected with a series of castings."

The castings did not work for him, so surgery was performed. But even that didn't last. Years later, his foot started twisting again.

"At five, they took me in for another surgery, which seemed like it worked until I was 13 and I relapsed," Burkeland recalled. "The next three years were the worst. At age 13, I went in for a surgery where they placed metal pins in my foot to help straighten it, but a month afterwards one of my incisions got infected."

He went on to describe how doctors discovered that the pins they had placed in his foot had snapped in half. At age 14, he underwent another surgery to remove the old pieces and replace them with larger screws. In the process of doing this, nerves in Burkeland's foot were damaged. The good news, he said, is that the nerves grow back – they just hurt as they do.

"Now I'm just happy to walk," Burkeland said.

  • William Vitka

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