Editorial: Gaming While Sick

Hello, and welcome to Friday! We all get sick. Even if we are not actually sick, some will use the excuse to grab a few days off work. For the general populace this usually means time watching T.V. or meeting up with friends. For gamers though, this occasion is usually spent enjoying our favourite pastime.

Gaming like a boss.
A professional bedridden gamer.

I often find that sitting down to play will ease any symptoms I feel. Injuries are less painful, nausea less likely to cause vomiting. Even some types of headaches seem non-existent while seated in front of something enjoyable. In my early youth my parents often believed I was feigning illness in order to skip school and play games. Sometimes, yes, but more often than not games took me away from how horrible I was feeling.

A couple of days ago I managed to injure myself at work. Nothing serious that a little rest cannot fix. As usual I hopped on Warcraft as there was not much else to do. Times have changed since I was younger though, as in today’s world people are likely to see when one plays games. Work colleagues. This can cause problems as most people assume one goes home, wraps oneself up in cotton wool and hibernates until such time as one is required to call or visit work, because nobody should be having fun while they are sick, right?

Even while sick people can still be productive. Some have the ability to work from home, but it is not always possible. Gaming offers a solution to this by allowing us to set goals within virtual worlds. Another trophy, more achievements or even monopolising markets within an MMORPG, games offer us not only a distraction from our illness, but give us the ability to pursue something we consider worthwhile.

I was playing Warcraft on Wednesday night. This is raid time for us, so we were in the middle of the new encounter when a work colleague whispers me. Long story short, I got more than a few messages about how I should be resting rather than playing games. Luckily for me, most people I work with know what I do with my free time and would not pay heed to anyone who told them what they already know.

I tried it once. I wasn't even sick.
Trying to use the 3D is highly discouraged.

So when gaming is solution to our illness woes, what is suitable to be played? Anything with flashing lights is out for a start. spinning screens are a no-no as well. Puzzle games are fine as long as the problem is not a headache. for most problems though, I find something simple and repetitive works best. Be it gathering herbs, battling Pokemon or simply tapping a screen to a beat, these actions provide a distraction that can be repeated for as long as need be.

On the second day of my injury, I managed to gain an entire level on my druid by running around collecting herbs. Great fields were torn asunder in my quest to fine anything remotely leaf-like. My actions that day provided me with more materials than I had seen in a long time. It was hard to believe such a great amount of time had passed while I was busy.

Upon returning to work, how can we explain our absence? Managers need to know what prevents their employees from coming to work, but more than a few take a keen interest in how that time was spent. I expect they already know, but rather than tell the truth of our heroic exploits while overcome with disease, they get told what they want to hear; how we took our pills and slept for most of the day to recover.

When I returned to work today, everyone was very understanding about how my injury would prevent me from performing my duties as efficiently as I did for the time being. All except that one guy who wanted to tell everyone that I was “too busy playing games to be sick”. There is always that rotten apple that wants to spoil it for the rest of us. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Readers, have you ever tried to accomplish great feats of bravery while taking sick leave from work? Has the call of that new game led you to tell your boss that “it is just a twenty-four hour bug”? Let me know in the comments!


  1. How incredibly obnoxious of that guy. Really, what’s the difference between watching tv in bed like most sick people do, and playing a video game instead? You’re not moving from your seat, you have all the comfort of home that you need, you don’t have to go through the hassle of transportation to and from work, etc. Simply having enough extra attention to click a few buttons while staring at a screen, doing stuff that’s pretty much instinctive, does not mean that you might as well be working. Well, I offer my condolences.

    I find that when I’m physically sick, playing games can invite dizziness, so it’s not much of a healing act. It is important however to spend your time agreeably until the illness passes. I also play differently when I can’t focus on battles and quests and storylines, doing more laid-back exploration or perusing inventories and such.

  2. I haven’t been able to find a job in a while, but I never abused the calling out thing. I’m not sure if it’s just a result of getting older (I’m 30) or what, but I don’t really get excited about new stuff anymore. Whether it’s games, movies, or what have you. Well, I do, I guess, but it’s more along the lines of, “That movie in the theaters looks really good! I’ll see it when it’s on cable in a year and a half.” Because being eternally optimistic as I am I assume Super AIDS is always at least 18+ months off.

  3. @Matt Yeah, he is an ass at work too. I like to keep work colleagues on friends lists so I can contact them easily.

    @evilpaul It’s been a long time since I called sick to play a game. At almost 30 myself, I just plan my days off/holiday around the releases I’m interested in.

  4. It is ludicrous to advocate that when one is sick, the best thing one can do is lie still like a lump.

    Can you watch the television when ill? Can you read a book? If you can do these things, it is reasonable to assume that you can play a game. Not *EVERY* illness is food poisoning, and I’d wager that even some cases of that are amenable to handheld gaming!

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