A lot of video game enthusiasts would probably love the idea of being able to sit down and play their favorite game for days on end without interruption, but the reality of doing so can be dangerous or even deadly. As the popularity of video games has grown over the decades, so too has the number of cases of people dying whilst playing video games, most commonly of heart failure or heart attacks.
It's difficult to say for sure how large a factor playing video games was in some of these deaths, since heart disease is the #1 most common cause of death worldwide and people die of heart failure while doing all sorts of activities. That said, it's no coincidence that so many of these deaths occur in players who have spent days on end playing video games without taking a break. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition and stress are all major contributors to heart disease, and hardcore gaming lifestyles can often be accompanied by all three.
Less than a week after a 38 year-old man was found dead at a New Taipei City Internet cafe following a staggering five-day gaming binge, CNN reports than another man, surnamed Hsieh, was found slumped over a table in an Internet cafe in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, following three solid days of gaming. Staff members commented that he was a regular customer and often fell asleep in his chair or at the table, which was why they didn't realize anything was wrong until he had already been dead for several hours. He entered the cafe on January 6th, and was pronounced dead on January 8th.
Hsieh was 32-years-old and unemployed, which was why he spent so much time in Internet cafes (Gamespot notes that cafes in the region can charge as little as two dollars for eight hours of gaming). Hsieh's family said that it wasn't uncommon for him to disappear for two or three days at a time, and a police statement indicated that cold temperatures and over-exhaustion from long hours spent gaming likely contributed to his death from heart failure.
Obviously this is an extreme case, but long hours spent gaming can have adverse health effects even if they don't always prove fatal. It's a good idea to limit gaming sessions to eight hours at most and to take regular breaks to exercise, stretch or nap. While advertisers might insist that Doritos and Mountain Dew are the only respectable diet for a hardcore gamer, keeping a bottle of water and some healthier snacks nearby is the smarter (and cheaper) option.
Video games, like any another enjoyable activity, carry a risk of becoming addictive and it's important for everyone to stay aware of how much time they're spending in front of the screen. Remember: being a gamer and having a healthy lifestyle are not mutually exclusive.
Source: Taipei Times (via CNN)