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Aleks features the powerful story Mats Steen, a story about inner lives, overcoming adversity, prejudice and finding a haven.

On New Year's Eve in 2015 Vicky Schaubert, a journalist from Norwegian broadcaster NRK heard a story that was to stay with her for many years prompting her to research and write an article about a young man called Mats Steen from Oslo.

At the age of four he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscular disease which was to drastically shorten his life expectancy. His father, Robert introduced Mats to gaming hoping it would help substitute all the things he was not able to do. Mats spent the last ten years of his life before his death in 2014 rarely going out of the apartment he lived in. He spent the majority of his time gaming online. After Mats passed away his parents mourned what they thought was a very lonely and isolated life, that was until Robert decided he needed to reach out to the gaming community to tell them Mats would no longer be logging on.

Robert was not prepared for what happened next. He received many, many emails from people around the world shining a new light on the life of his son. Mats' story had a profound effect on Vicky Schaubert who reached out to Mats’ family to tell his story. After learning about Mats she apologised to her sons for her attitude towards the time they have spent gaming. Vicky attached no value to gamming and shamed them for wasting their time until she learned about Mats. Exploring Mats' story, Aleks discovers how easy it is to make assumptions about something you can't see - whether it’s inside the mind of another person, or inside the computer where connections and community offer a new opportunity for someone to find their people.

Produced by Kate Bissell
Researched by Laurence Cook

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 25 Mar 2019 16:30

Robert Steen

Robert Steen

Robert Steen is Mats’ father and a politician from Oslo, Norway.  As well as making all the practical arrangements to make sure his son Mats would have the best life he could, Robert decided to introduce Mats to computers and gaming. But it wasn’t until after his passing that he realised the impact this decision would have.

Vicky Schaubert

Vicky works at Norwegian Broadcasting NRK in Oslo and on New Year’s Eve in 2015 heard about the story of Mats Steen.

It stayed with her for many years until she got the opportunity at NRK to research it and write an article.  Meeting Robert, Mat's father and hearing about Mats’ story had a profound effect on Vicky and her relationship with her own sons.

Anne Hamill

Anne Hamill

Anne is a 62 year old occupational psychologist who plays Chit in the Starlight guild and knew Mats for ten years.

Anne was one of the first gamers to reach out to Mats' father after Mats passed away.

Xenia-Anni Nielsen

Xenia-Anni Nielsen

Xenia is from Denmark and spent every evening for five years role playing and messaging Mats.  

Their characters had a relationship for a number of years in World of Warcraft and Xenia was one of the few people Mats told about his disability because Xenia is also disabled having broken her back during child birth.

Kai Fredriksen

Kai Fredriksen
Kai is the Lord Protector of Starlight, a guild in World of Warcraft and interviewed Mats Steen before he was accepted into the guild. 
Although Kai role played with Mats online for many years, and he can see the part of Oslo where Mats lived from his home, they never met in person. However, despite the two never meeting, Kai read an eulogy at Mats' funeral.