Once again an extreme marathon session of gaming has been directly associated with a death. An 18 year old gamer in Taiwan went on a nearly 2 day gaming binge without water, food or sleep in a private room he booked at a 24 hour internet cafe. He was found unconscious by an employee and after being shaken back to responsiveness collapsed to the floor upon standing. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
This is not such the isolated incident as extended video game playing has taken more than a few lives in the past few years. In February of this year another man from Taiwan died from a heart attack after playing for almost a full day straight. In 2007 a 30 year old Chinese man died after 3 straight days. In 2005 a South Korean man passed on after a 50 hour spree. In 2002 another Taiwanese man died of exhaustion due to his 32 hour non-stop bender and a South Korean man went a mind boggling 86 hours before breathing his last right where he sat.
While these are extreme cases shorter but still prolonged gaming sessions have contributed to death before. A 20 year old British man with no real health problems died last year of a blood clot known as a deep vein thrombosis. This can come about and is aggravated by being in the same position for long periods of time. The man’s family said he lived for his gaming and it would not be uncommon for him to be at his Xbox for 12 hours at a time.
Most if not all of these gaming deaths have been associated with MMORPG’s or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games such as World of Warcraft or Everquest. These are games with no real end in which you are always looking to improve your character, find better gear and fight in battles to help the previous two things occur. That kind of goal oriented gameplay is enough to push someone along thinking just one more upgrade or one more fight. That most recent death in Taiwan occurred while the 18 year old was playing the recently released game Diablo III. It uses most of the same gaming concepts and time does have a way of flying while playing it.
Blizzard who created Diablo 3 released the following press release in regards to the young man’s death:
“We’re saddened to hear this news, and our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time. We don’t feel it would be appropriate for us to comment further without knowing all of the circumstances involved.
While we recognize that it’s ultimately up to each individual or their parent or guardian to determine playing habits, we feel that moderation is clearly important, and that a person’s day-to-day life should take precedence over any form of entertainment.”
That’s really what it comes down to. Moderation. With anything. Eat too much sugar, fat and carbs plus don’t do enough exercising and now you’re less than fit. Drink too much alcohol and lose your liver and friends. Game too much and the negatives become apparent or in cases such as the topic of this article can outright kill you. Sure some people it may affect worse. Some people have predispositions mentally or genetically that can make such things life altering and highly destructive.
I have gone on what I would call lengthy gaming sessions before, lasting multiple hours at a time. Many including myself would say that’s just too much. I couldn’t fathom going days especially without taking break for the necessities which allow me to function in the first place. I suffer from a bit of escapism which is a big factor in what draws me to games and movies in the first place. I keep enough of a grip on reality though that I can pull away. Some people can’t or won’t. For some they get lost in the immersion of it.
Any addiction be it gaming or alcohol or even biting ones nails is a dominating compulsion. You are driven to do something to a degree that affects your life and can in most cases directly and negatively affect your mental and physical well being. If you do not have the awareness, control, will-power or ability to deal with these things you are drawn to in reasonable and moderate way it may be time to look for help.
Below are links to a couple of sites offering help for video game addicts. Some may laugh at the idea of this but to those for whom it is a real problem it can be just what they need to help them:
On-line Gamers Anonymous – www.olganon.org
Video Game Addiction – www.video-game-addiction.org
Also here is a link to an article by Mike Fahey at Kotaku where he talks about the tolls video game addiction took on him: