Can AS Video Game Designer Get an Extra Life?

Confession time: I am a gamer. Not only am I gamer, I’m a dorky gamer (which I swear is not a redundant statement).

reaction girl boys gamer stereotypes
To be honest, this was (and continues to be) a common response to my life choices. Source:

So, admittedly, when I stumbled across this interestingly-named article in the Seattle Times, my thought process went a little as follows:

  • Xbox designer?
  • Lol, “errors” pun
  • Wait, paralyzed? What?

And that’s when I got serious.

The article details the full experience of former head of Xbox design, August de los Reyes, who was paralyzed from the chest down while receiving care at Overlake Medical Center in Seattle.

It started like this: In 2013, de los Reyes injured his back by falling from his bed.

While for many people, this would be a recoverable moment of bad luck, it turned into something very different for de los Reyes.

You see, a number of years ago, de los Reyes was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). AS has many symptoms (pain, stiffness), but one of the most concerning is the tendency for the spine to fuse in AS patients, giving them a more brittle, fragile back.

panda animals
A condition also known as “bamboo spine,” which is no way as joyful as this gif implies. Source:

So falling out of bed can be extremely bad for someone with AS, and medical miscommunication and mishandling will only worsen it.

That’s exactly what Overlake was guilty of. Despite de los Reyes attempting to tell hospital staff about his AS and discuss the possibility that he’d fractured his back, he was dismissed. That is until one visit, when rough handling during an MRI shattered his back completely.

Months of emotional and physical recovery later, de los Reyes has settled into life in a wheelchair.

And he’s one of the luckier ones.

250,000 people in the US die annually from medical error. I’m sure mistakes stemming from misunderstood rare diseases play an unfortunate part in this number.

De los Reyes agrees that someone has to correct this “system problem.”

Though this problem is way more serious than an Xbox red screen. Source:

As part of de los Reyes’ $20 million malpractice settlement, he and the many like him have forced Overlake to change in a number of ways:

  • Better use of electronic health-records
  • Multiple stages of review
  • Improved processes

They’re on Level One in an ongoing challenge, sure, but it’s an amazing start.

Read the whole story here.

If hearing about de los Reyes has inspired your inner gamer, also know that video games are a great tool when dealing with difficult times with your rare disease.

Whether you’re in a wheelchair or currently home-bound, video games have real health and social benefits. With specialty controllers, the Kinect camera, and new stories told with de los Reyes’ most recent experiences in mind, the Xbox in particular is more accessible than ever.

Kiki Jones

Kiki Jones

Kiki’s family loves to say, “People are like a baking project. At some point, they’re just done and they’re who they’re going to be.” Well, Kiki still has some baking to do, and she learns a lot from her loved ones living with chronic conditions, including mental illness and Behcet’s disease. With a BA in English, she’s using her skills to tell the stories of people like them.

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