What is the REALLY unhealthy side effect of video games? Death.

A dearth of polemics have affected the high-tech world for a long time. Controversial discussions about the (mis)use of technology began ever since those movies about robots that can control our lives came out.

However, we have always worried about how computers would control us at some point, but we didn’t really focus too much on how we need to control our use of technology. Even when it comes to ‘harmless’ tech like video games, because it turns out that excessive use of video games is literally killing people. Fast.

In 2015 for instance, Taiwan has had two registered cases of deaths caused by too much gaming. One of the gamers was Hsieh, who died in an internet cafè in Kaohsiung where he used to play (he used to stay there for days too). He simply collapsed, after spending three days straight gaming, on January 8th last year. The man was found hours after his death when his body had already started to stiffen.

On January 1st, 2015, a 38-year-old man was found dead in another internet cafe, this time in Taipei, after playing video games for five days straight. That wasn’t all; in 2012 the body of another man who died while gaming went unnoticed for 10 hours before other gamers and the staff of the internet cafè noticed his slumped body. Not long after, an 18-year old collapsed at an internet cafe after playing Diablo 3 for 40 hours straight.

If there’s anything you should learn from this, it’s that you should never go to internet cafes. Just kidding. Prolonged gaming while in a sedentary position, as all the deaths above demonstrate, can lead to blood clots and cardiovascular problems. Whether you’re gaming for 19 hours on World of Warcraft (as did a 24-year old man in Shanghai), or for 22 days straight on Defence of the Ancients (as was the case with a 17-year old Russian nicknamed Rustam), you can die of cardiac arrest.

The same thing happened to an NUS student a few years ago who was found dead the morning after an overnight gaming session in his home.

In addition to these deaths, which are already something scary on their own, there have been bizarre behaviors, including child neglect. In South Korea, a 22-year-old father neglected his 3-year old son and let him starve to death, simply because he was too busy playing video games. Also, the man kept the body of the young boy in the house for a while before putting him in a trash bag and then leaving the badly decomposed body in an alley in Daegu city. More bizarrely, a Korean gaming couple were so obsessed with playing Prius Online, where they raised a virtual child, that their real infant daughter starved to death. The couple came back one day from an internet cafe after a 12-hour long gaming session to find that their long-malnourished daughter had died.

While similar situations are happening elsewhere in the world, this gaming addiction seems to be affecting Asian countries a bit more. But why?

Asia has been developing an underground gaming culture for a long while. For this reason, you’ll see many events staging gaming marathons which last days – the very scenarios that caused the deaths of all those gamers. It seems that this business is much more developed here than anywhere else, which is unfortunate for the victims.

Some countries are doing something in terms of prevention. South Korea has been sending psychologists to internet cafès to educate gamers on the problems originating from an excessive gaming session.

There’s a reason that online gaming can be addictive – the escapism, the excitement, the camaraderie you build with online buddies – and if gamers start young, when their hormones aren’t in control yet, it’s even harder to manage the urge to hit the computer, where their hobby can easily turn into their death knell.

Feature image belongs to Jeremy Keith

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