The Dark Side Of Gaming – Addiction To Anything Is An Illness

It is often the case in the gaming world that we describe a game – by way of a compliment – that we should play it because it’s wonderfully addictive. And it’s true. We often get drawn to games that can capture our attention enough for us to forget everything else and simply focus on the game alone. It is a release, an escape. A welcome change to our sometimes often humdrum lives. And it’s all true too. No one’s denying the fact. However, it is prudent to note that “an escape” and “a release” is often how people describe their dependency and justification for abusing alcohol (and other dangerously addictive substances) as well.

In that same vein, when the obsession with playing video games stretches past a certain level (like in cases of alcohol poisoning and drug overdose), you may even die from excess. There are even “rehabilitation” camps and centers now where obsessive gamers are enrolled and taken to in order to “wean them off” their obsessive gaming compulsions.

A lot of people reading this, and similar articles, may find themselves scoffing at it, wondering how something as entertaining and harmless as a video game can be blamed for someone’s death. But in fact, such cases, though not that widespread, are just enough in number to call notice to the possibility.

One such case was an incident in 2012, where an 18 year old boy named Chuang died after playing a video game for 40 hours straight. Apparently, he had fallen asleep out of chronic exhaustion (or maybe even had fallen unconscious), and after waking up, had tried to leave the internet cafe he had been playing the game at, but had collapsed from the strain he’d put himself under.

In yet another incident, a 38 year old man died of cardiac arrest after playing a video game at a cafe in Taiwan for five days straight. And in a much more recent case, in Kaoshiung (in Taiwan), a 32 year old man died after playing video games for three days straight. He was a regular at the online cafe where he was found. And he’s many times spend nights there it seems too. But, some of the people who knew him also said that it was customary for him to sleep for a few hours in between playing video games, so they thought that he had been doing the same this time. However, apparently, he had gone straight through for three days this time, and his body was not able to handle the strain. The police said that he had been barely alive from chronic strain, malnutrition, and exhaustion when they’d finally found him, and that he had probably collapsed for hours at his computer before anyone noticed anything amiss. However, it was reported that though he had still been hanging onto life until he’d reached the hospital, he finally died of cardiac arrest (just like in the previous incident at Taiwan) at the hospital.

Some might wonder how he repressed the human body’s hunger pangs and exhaustion cues. But the explanation for that is sadly easy: During times when a person is under high amounts of stress and/or jumped up on adrenalin, studies have shown that the body’s hunger cues, pain cues, and exhaustion cues are often suppressed in most people. And video games do in fact activate our adrenalin hormone. It’s why we find it so easy to focus on it and why distractions are tuned out more naturally as the levels get more fast-paced or difficult in a video game. Indeed, most video games are even designed with this very concept in mind so as to capture a gamer’s interest. Addiction also numbs the senses. So with all these factors playing in together, it is quite possible to push past the strain and stress levels of what a body and mind is capable of handling. So it is prudent that gamers (as well as those around gamers) should be watchful of such dangerously obsessive symptoms when it comes to playing online games.