Imagined worlds creating better realities for isolated young adults

The world can often seem unfriendly, confusing, and even frightening for people living with mental health issues and autism. So when Paris Conte witnessed how the power of roleplay could help people gain confidence and develop interpersonal skills, he knew he had discovered something transformative. These new skills developed through gaming are now helping young people build careers and lead better lives.

Paris’s gaming-related epiphany came at a time when he was an Independent Personal Support Worker working with socially isolated young adults. He is now Head Dragon Wrangler at genU GAMER.

“Getting them to interact on a social level as a group was extraordinarily difficult,” Paris said.

“At that time, gaming technology was more of a barrier. The guys there would use their tablets, phones, consoles etcetera to sort of keep themselves at a distance from other people, which made it very, very difficult.”

In a major turning point, Paris found a way to get the group to look past the consoles and create meaningful social connections in the group.

“I asked the group whether they had ever played Dungeons and Dragons, and would they be interested in trying it or playing it? And next thing I know, everyone had put down their consoles and phones and tablets, and were all looking at me,” Paris said.

“What I saw was these guys picking up and learning social interaction in a way they never had a chance to before. So instead of the real world where a lot of these people feel disempowered or they have no authority or they can’t make decisions…in this game world, they had complete control and that changes the dynamic for the individual.

“Now they have the ability to do and explore what they need without fear of reprisal, without fear of consequence and without fear of not having the resources or being told they can’t do something. When you take that pressure off an individual, the things that they come up with on their own is truly amazing.”  

🎧 Listen to the full story via our Breaking Barriers podcast, where we also hear from Jake Anderson and learn how his life changed after working with Paris through genU GAMER.

Breaking Barriers is a new podcast from MatchWorks exploring remarkable stories about WHY work matters, and how it’s changing the lives of some incredible people.