Terminally Ill Man Flies by Playing Destiny on PS4; Teaches Us All What it Means to Be Gamers

on September 16, 2014 7:08 AM

It all started on the official Bungie Forums. Just before the launch of the game I came across the message of a gamer just like me and you. The only caveat is that Jebi, or “Jebitron” if you want to use his PSN handle, is terminally ill.

Jebi’s words were positive and enthusiastic, full of anticipation for Bungie’s new game, and I’d like to share them with you, raw and unedited.

Terminal illness has created a home-bound living environment for me so I have plenty of time to play Destiny. So! My wife and I have spent all of August and a bit of the other past months to prepare for September 9th. We’re making sure everything we need to do is done already. Such as major house chores, long talks with our parents out of the way, shopping is out of the way for at least a few months, etc… Our PS4 Destiny Bundles and Ghost Editions have been pre ordered and arrangements made to pick them up at midnight such as a carrying case, cab fare, the perfect “camp” chair to sit in for line waiting comfort and snacks/drinks to stay awake.

On the same night we’ll activate DL content, and navigate our screens to the create character option and power down both of our new Dedicated Destiny PS4 systems. Then we’ll go to sleep and wake up to an all day playing of Destiny all rested and alert for a fresh start. The morning of September 9th holds our beginning to our new life… Destiny, Destiny, more Destiny, and lots of Destiny. We’ll get plenty of sleep after our first day playing for at least 12-16 hours. This continues every day afterward until a Dr apt, or other such necessities are required to disrupt our adventures. Pill organizers have been prepared and of coarse we’ll have reasonable breaks, food, showering, etc… A life in Destiny, after all, is a life to live.

Monitors, proper stereo audio adjustments, “gaming caves” and Destiny Themed enthusiasm has long been prepared. Posters, shelving to display future Destiny merchandise and other wall-mountables have been placed for gaming motivation. We’ve prepared for this day and it’s finally here. We’re ready. September 9th’s arrival will be welcomed with open arms! We even make jokes that we’ve treated this historical event similar to how others prepare for their new-born. Ha!

See everyone starside!

After reading Jebi’s post, I decided to contact him, and to ask him a bit more about his condition, his gaming hobby and his his strong and positive outlook on life and gaming itself.

Jebi lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife, and is affected by Duchenne’s Musculary Dystrophy. Doctors kept telling him that he could live only until 12 years old, then 19, then 25, and then 32. Now that he’s 37 years old he’s still fighting, and intends to keep fighting.

Below you can read what he told me. I won’t write anything  further after his last answer. I spent a couple hours thinking on the best way to conclude this piece, and honestly I can find no better ending than the words of Jebi himself. We probably all have something to learn from him.

Giuseppe: Now that Destiny has been out for a while, and you’ve had plenty time to play, What’s your opinion of the game?

Jebi: Destiny is a very fun world to play in. I play almost all day and still feel like I can’t play it enough! The design, vistas, missions, mystery and lore, mechanics, music and multiplayer aspects are very well thought out and well done. The views are amazing and there’s always a way to stay busy. There’s also a special “feeling” I get when I’m playing Destiny. I got attached to it early on and have grown even closer to it now. I love it!

G: What class/race are you playing in game? And what level did you achieve?

J: I’m currently playing as an Exo Warlock and am level 21. I plan on trying another class someday but right now I’m very connected to the Warlock. I like being the Exo race because I rely on machinery to keep me alive. My next character would probably be a Titan.

G: What’s your favorite thing in Destiny? And is there something you’d change if you were in charge?

J: Wow! Favorite thing? Being a machine of war capable of space magic! Besides that, I find myself mostly playing PvE and trying out as many weapons as possible. My favorite thing to do in Destiny would probably be leveling up by completing bounties and Paroling the locations to find new things. I love discovering things.

I don’t think I would change anything if I were in charge. I think Bungie is doing a great job so far and am very content with what’s available in the game. If they can keep a guy like me busy all day and excited about future plans, they’re doing something right.

G: Given your condition, how important is your hobby and identity as a gamer to you, and how relevant is it in your daily life?

J: This is the best time to be a gamer. A lot of people in my life know I’m a gamer. Gaming in general is very important to my daily life. I’m home-bound and in a motorized wheelchair. I can’t do much for myself without the help of an aid or my wife. DMD has weakened my immune system and I have to stay home so I don’t get sick. When I play video games, I have a lesser chance of getting bored because there’s always something to do. This aspect in Destiny, for example, is important in my daily life because it keeps me focused and makes me feel a lot less confined. I have chronic pain so likewise, video games distract me from feeling some of it. I don’t have to sit and think about how miserable things could be. I can feel free and spread my wings. I feel very blessed to have all the things I do, despite my situation.

Video games also allow me to do many social activities with people I normally wouldn’t be able to do outside my home. I can be a hero with my friends, go exploring and share moments that I normally wouldn’t be able to experience while being at home.

My wife (PSN Gabija) is an active gamer as well, so being able to share our time together is priceless. When my wife and I started playing together, we realized that we could go on vacation every time we turned on our PS4’s. Being able to do that in Destiny, for example, with my wife’s company, is something I can’t express with words and Bungie has made that possible. Video games can make that possible. There are other games we play together, but after playing Destiny, we feel its new technology allows us to feel more engaged in the game. It’s almost like going outside where you can see other people or run into people we know.

Identity wise, video games make me feel comforted. Destiny‘s story kind of describes how I see myself. The Guardians are at war with aliens that came and took our civilization because the Traveler was deeply injured by the Darkness. DMD came and took a lot of my muscle mass away. There’s a constant struggle in Destiny and a lot of other video games. I can relate to that in my daily life. like the Guardians of the Traveler in Destiny, I must stay strong and overcome my struggles with DMD, almost in the same way they must protect the Traveler from the Darkness and all who desire it’s power.

DMD wants all my strength and I must fight to make sure it won’t take me without giving it some heavy punishment. I use video games to keep my hands strong enough to do the things I still can; and keep doing them. There are a lot of health problems DMD has given me but what it has not taken… is my will to fight. That is something the Darkness can never take from a Guardian in Destiny, similar to how DMD will never take it from me in real life. DMD has given me a rare opportunity to become a stronger person and I sometimes see that as a blessing, not a curse.

Don’t let life’s challenges bring you down. Accept them and become stronger. I know it’s easier said than done, but we can all do something to become a better person no matter what our situation may be. Live life. Be happy.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.
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