A gamer's story of triumph over adversity at SOE Live.
After returning from a convention like SOE Live, I imagine that it is customary to talk about your personal highlight of the show – I can only imagine due to it being my first, I’m so naïve.
There are a lot of things that stand out; interviewing John Smedley, Matt Higby, Tramell Ray Isaac and others. Chatting with Margaret Krohn – yes, she’s just as ridiculously nice in person -- and finally getting to meet a bunch of folks who I only previously knew through email. Add to all that, making new friends, having a good time at the Pool Party and so on.
Yet for me, the memory that raises the hair on my neck began at the costume judging contest. I stood behind the judges, taking pictures on my dying iPhone – I was plagued by tech issues all week – when a noble lady dressed as a caster was brought near the judging circle in a wheelchair. With the help of a friend, in obvious pain but showing supreme determination, she stood up and walked forward to be seen by the judges.
After speaking for a little while, smiling and generally enjoying the moment even though it was obvious she was in agony, she thanked the judges and turned. At this point I was waiting for the wheelchair to be brought over to her, but no, she had refused it; she wanted to make her own way, like any other contestant.
Later I spotted the brave caster who I later learned was named Veturika, a cleric -- because it transpires that resurrecting rangers is her calling. I stopped by just to introduce myself to her and her guild mates and we talked briefly. What I discovered was a story that does not just belong to the tapestry of culture that is SOE Live, it utterly defines it.
Veturika is a former member of the emergency services – a cleric in both worlds – who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She was forced to give up her life-saving work as her condition inhibited her ability to perform her duties and the pain it caused was, and still is, constant and intense.
The doctors gave her between two to five years to live. In bone shrilling pain, unable to work and with a bleak future, a friend who understood what she was going through gave her something to help with the pain, a new game called EverQuest.
“I thank God and Sony everyday for giving me EverQuest. I would not listen to what the doctors told me, as I had three daughters all raised at the time, but nine grandchildren I had hoped to see grow up.
I was forced to give up my firefighting and paramedic work because being out there on the scene was too dangerous, not only to others but to myself. So to survive life and feel useful, I would play anywhere from 10 to 18 hours a day. It was the people behind the toons that hung in there with me each day and never let me give up.”