History of death by video games

Ever since you were little, your parents and relatives have always told you, “Don’t play those video games for so long!” But, of course, you didn’t heed their foolish precautionary remarks. You had to keep playing. You can’t just pause it.

Video games have been confusing the baby boomer generation for a while now, but what if your grandma’s warning that “you play that game so much you’ll die” was true?

I discovered a recent article about a Chinese man who died after playing one of my favorite games, World of Warcraft, for 19 hours straight. The guy was at an internet cafe (a foreign concept here in the land of free WI-FI) when his friend caught him away from the screen “looking very pale” and having a coughing fit. After dabbing blood from his mouth, his friends decided to call an ambulance, but alas, it was too late. This man had died from prolonged World of Warcraft exposure.

This is the first time I’ve actually heard of someone dying from playing a computer game too long. While there is additional speculation that this man had some sort of previous sickness, I find myself doubting that sitting in front of a computer screen for 19 hours really helped alleviate whatever sickness he might have had. People are even speculating that blood clots formed in his legs for being motionless so long and traveled up to his lungs.

A cause of death has not been officially declared, but officials have said, “An autopsy will determine the cause of death but there seems little doubt his playing on the computer for 19 hours instead of resting contributed to his death.”

This “offbeat” news inspired me to search for any similar instances where hardcore video gaming has resulted in extreme injury or worse.

Turns out, the publisher of World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment, has another death attributed to one of their games.

In 2012 an 18-year-old Taiwanese boy rented a private internet cafe room and proceeded to play “Diablo 3” for approximately 40 hours. After being roused by an attendant, the boy promptly stood up, collapsed, and was pronounced dead soon after arriving at a hospital.

Xiao Jun is also reported to have died from a 40 hour marathon session of online game playing after his shift at a karaoke bar was over, the only exception being this guy took regular food breaks and bathroom breaks.

It seems insane to think that video games should be listed as a cause of death, but after these discoveries, I wouldn’t be quite as dubious as before.

While it appears a majority of more well-known video game related deaths occur on the continent of Asia, there are a few American video game deaths.

One of the earliest is Jeff Dailey, a “straight A” 18-year-old, who died just after inserting his name into the high score position of an arcade game called “Berzerk.”

A 20-year-old man also died from a marathon Xbox gaming session in the UK in 2011 from a blood clot in his legs traveling up to his lungs. This sounds oddly familiar.

Gaming deaths don’t just pertain to white dudes and Asian guys either; a 13-year-old girl, Anna-Lee Kehoe, died while playing Xbox 360. She reportedly said “mom, I can’t breathe,” moments before suffering a major heart attack.

While all of these are incredible in their own right, there is one man that takes the cake in video game deaths in terms of pure dedication and workload. A 33-year-old man (whose name is still apparently unreleased) gamed for 650 consecutive hours over the course of almost an entire month (27 days.) The guy supposedly survived off Ramen, and his cause of death was heart failure and malnutrition, which is hardly surprising.

Although video game deaths are a very real thing, the amount of deaths caused directly by video games is just a smudge mark compared to death counts by substances like alcohol, tobacco, etc. The overarching theme or message that should be taken away from video game related deaths is the danger of becoming addicted to a video game, possibly enabling a death to occur. In that case, maybe video games are as dangerous as the worst-of-the-worst out there.

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