Meet Alecia Shepherd

Meet Alecia Shepherd

Minnesota Woman Finds Pain Relief with Small Doses of Bejeweled Blitz

For Alecia Shepherd, 39, complications are a fact of life. When she suffered from a femoral blood clot four years ago, she had no idea that years of recovery and pain would follow - or that continuing complications, like fibromyalgia and heart disease, would become everyday ordeals. Games like PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz have not only helped her to ride out her pain, but have also helped Alecia keep in touch with friends whose support she's found invaluable.

She met one such friend, Ken, five years ago in an internet chat room. Since he lives halfway across the continent - he's in California, she's in Minnesota - he keeps in touch via telephone and Bejeweled Blitz. "Ken has been my great friend through a lot," Alecia says. "We have fun competing between us for the top score on Blitz. I'm finally starting to beat him sometimes, but I'm not very fast and don't have a lot of stamina to keep playing." Still, she doesn't see Blitz as a competition - more a challenge. "Mostly, I strive to improve myself. You can really amaze yourself with what you can accomplish in just one minute of play!"

The game helps her gear up, too. "Blitz and other PopCap games help me 'pull myself together' mentally," she notes. "They help me during the really, really bad days; if I can get focused on Blitz I can sometimes overlook the pain." Though she used to be an artist, web designer, writer, and singer with two original CDs available through Amazon, and was also able to volunteer at church and fundraising events, her worsening disabilities have made it hard to keep up with her former life. PopCap games have let her hold on to some of the things she likes best - like solving puzzles and riddles - while providing a relaxing distraction from her disabilities.

Despite Blitz being only a recent addition to her PopCap collection, Alecia was immediately hooked when she saw a friend of hers playing it. She sees the game as being a "one-minute Bejeweled rush for fun," and laughingly describes it as "screen shattering speed match mastery." We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

Beyond its eye-catching animations - Alecia's artistic streak includes a strong interest in video editing and graphics design - Bejeweled Blitz's fast play drew her in. "It's easy to pick up and put away anytime, anywhere." As she tires easily, the fall-in, break-off game play is essential. Still, her limited time in front of the screen hasn't dulled her strategy any: "The best way to play any reaction game," she counsels, "is to get to where you can assess the entire playing field at a glance and move decisively, like in ping pong. You struggle at first, but then you start to flow, think less, and respond fluidly. The same works on Blitz." And it's working well, with Alecia's top score being around 266,000!

As a woman with a blood clotting disorder that affects one in eight million and results in daily pain, Alecia has to pursue her hobbies "in tiny bits at a time." Still, as a speed-match master, she's up to the challenge. "I have to do things very slowly these days," she says - then, with a smile, adds, "but I still have my talents!"