Have you seen the Gamasutra report that discusses the results of a study regarding video games and physical pain? The idea is that playing games help distract players from feeling pain. Let me state for the record that I completely 100% believe this. As I've mentioned before, I live with the chronic illness Crohn's Disease which causes nearly nonstop intestinal pains of varying degrees. Most days it's just a dull ache, but too often I feel as if I've been stabbed in the gut and every time I move someone is twisting the knife. When the disease is at its worst I cannot eat, cannot walk very far, and mainly just have to take medication and sleep until the flare-up passes. Video games have kept me going during these terrible times.
Specifically, there have been three very low points in my life related to my illness, and each time there's been a special game around to help me through it: in 1996 it was Earthbound and Super Mario 64, while in 2003 it was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. These games are very special to me, and it's not just because they're all amazing games. When I'm in serious pain and I play a video game, it gives me something else to focus on beyond how much I hurt and how much I want to stop hurting. If I'm tasked with saving the world or rescuing the princess from the comfort of my bed, I spend more time working on the challenge at hand and less time thinking about the pain. There's a reason hospitals keep video games around for children with serious medical issues. Take it from me that these benefits can also help adults.