Everyone can admit to being addicted to video games at one point or another, but there are some who take their game-playing to the extreme. Obsessive gamers will only stop to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom (and sometimes, not even then). The crazed button-bashers on this list were so hell-bent on picking up one more item, unlocking one more level and defeating one more boss that they remained stuck and hypnotized by the screen until they eventually paid for it with their lives.
For these poor game-obsessed souls, their hobby took priority over any other basic human need – hydrating, emptying their bladder, going outside for fresh air. Many health professionals recommend stepping away from the screen at least once an hour. Some even recommend that every 20 minutes is best. Everyone has different computer habits, of course, and there is no way of enforcing these guidelines, but – at the risk of sounding like Buzz Killington – perhaps somebody should!
An alarming number of game-related deaths seem to happen in internet café’s – possibly because gamers can’t be yelled at by their parents or spouse to get off their console. So maybe, these internet cafe’s need to act more like a guardian to these obsessive gamers – deliberately cause a power cut every 20 minutes, perhaps? These tragic deaths could have been so easily avoided if they paid more attention to their health status in real life as opposed to the one on the screen. For the following people, game over truly meant GAME OVER.
15. Death After 3-Day Gaming Marathon
One Internet Cafe in Taiwan is known as a hotspot for online gamers – so much so that the staff and fellow gamers failed to notice immediately when one man had died in their presence! A 32-year-old man named Hsieh had been a regular visit to the internet cafe in Kaohsiung. When Hsieh visited the cafe, he would play for days on end and often take naps at the table during his sessions. So when he went into cardiac arrest and died after one session in 2015, it was hours before staff members realized.
After a gaming binge that lasted for 3 days straight, the 32-year-old man’s heart finally gave out and an employee found him many hours later, lying motionless in his chair. Police reportedly said that Hsieh’s body had stiffened, meaning it was quite a while before any of the café’s fellow gamers or staff had noticed that they had a corpse on the premises. Nasty.
14. Xbox Binge Caused Blood Clot
20-year-old Christ Staniforth from the UK dedicated 12 hours a day to playing on his Xbox. He saw no cause for concern since this was just his hobby and main passion in life. Chris was even accepted by a game design program at Leicester University. The sedentary lifestyle brought on by his passion soon took its toll, however, and the young student later died of a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot.
His father, David Staniforth, recalls his son’s behavior the night before he died “He had probably been on all night, on the computer at his desk.” Chris apparently felt a pounding in his chest during this overnight gaming binge but ignored it. The following day, the 20-year-old was out with his friend when he suddenly collapsed. Chris’ untimely death just goes to show that older people are not the only ones at risk of a deadly blood clot from inactivity.
13. Gaming Couple Caused Baby’s Death
Just to be clear, a baby didn’t die after playing a video game, but an unhealthy obsession was to blame for her tragic death at just 3 months old. A deeply negligent couple from South Korea let their baby daughter, Sarang (which means ‘love’ in Korean) become severely malnourished while they left her alone to play video games. The couple abandoned their newborn baby for 6 to 12 hours at a time to visit internet cafes and log into a virtual world.
This is beyond belief, but what makes this story even more sickening is the ironic nature of the game they would run off and play together. Instead of caring for their real-life baby girl, the couple were playing the Mass Multiplayer Online game Prius, which allowed players to foster children and tend to their needs. To prioritize a virtual child over your own flesh and blood is one of the most messed up things we’ve ever heard. The only ‘achievement’ this couple has is parenting fail of the decade.
12. Non-Stop 50 Hour Gaming Session
Before his death, a passionate online gamer named Seungseob Lee had a bad few weeks. In the space of a month and a half, Lee had lost his job and his girlfriend had broken up with him. While some addictive personality types may have turned to the bottle or to drugs in this situation, Lee turned to the one big vice in his life – Mass Multiplayer Online gaming. Lee had frequented his local internet cafe many times to engage in long gaming stints but after his run of bad luck, he pushed himself a little too far.
Lee drowned his sorrows by logging away a whopping 50 hours on the popular epic strategy game Starcraft. Unfortunately, what should have been a bit of distracting fun turned fatal when he suffered a cardiac arrest and died later in hospital. A friend of Lee’s later spoke of knowing how bad his addiction was. Perhaps his nearest and dearest should have intervened.
11. Died After 24-Hour Game Marathon For Charity
One of the more recent cases of game-related deaths in the news was of 35-year-old Brian Vigneault, from Virginia, USA. In February of this year, the father of three took part in a 24-hour gaming marathon for charity. He was playing the popular MMO game World of Tanks in order to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation. Unfortunately, Brian didn’t make it to 24 hours.
A friend who was with Brian during the live gaming stream for charity noticed that he looked exhausted during the marathon and that he was falling asleep at one point. At the 22 hour mark, Vigneault reportedly stepped away from the screen for a cigarette break before he collapsed and died. Brian had been keeping himself awake for the marathon by downing Red Bull and Five-Hour Energy drinks. It may have been for a good cause, but there are much safer ways to donate your time.
10. Dead After 40 Hours Of Diablo III
The hugely popular Diablo franchise left 12 years between their second offering and the much-anticipated Diablo III, so when the latest in the series was finally released in 2012, 18-year-old Chaung from Taiwan wasted no time in sampling its delights. Rather than savor his time on the new Diablo game, however, the teenager booked a spot in his local internet cafe and settled down for a massive 40-hour long session.
Throughout this whole time, the 18-year-old had allegedly had nothing to eat or drink (he presumably also ignored the call of nature during this time as well). After booking himself in on a Friday to put in 40 solid hours, he finished playing the hot new Diablo release on Sunday morning and upon leaving the internet cafe, Chuang collapsed. An 18-year-old life snuffed out…all because he couldn’t savor a long-awaited game sequel?
9. Seizures And Eventual Suicide
This tragic case of obsessive online gaming shows how immersive the virtual world can be. Shawn Woolley from Wisconsin let his life spiral out of control when he became addicted to the magic, sword-fighting game EverQuest. True to the name, Woolley was forever going on quests and missions in the game, so much so that he quit his job, was evicted from his apartment and purchased a gun that no-one else knew about.
Once Shawn began to experience seizures after long stretches in front of the computer, his mother sent him off to group therapy for people with addictive behaviour. Shawn quickly signed himself out of these group sessions, however, and continued on the quest to ruin his life for the sake of a video game. The final straw came when Shawn was rejected from another character within the game. His mother discovered his body slumped over the keyboard along with a suicide note amongst a pile of notes with EverQuest details scribbled on them.
8. Died Trying To Achieve ‘Pro Status’
The culture of online gaming has evolved so much in recent years that in some circles, gaming is now being viewed as a serious and competitive sport. There was a time when ‘multiplayer’ simply meant 2-player games with your friends – now you can play against countless players around the world. With the MMO generation, a dark obsession to be the best has come about. (In fact, it probably won’t be long before video games are considered an Olympic sport).
One title that is widely considered a ‘pro sport’ in the gaming community is the online battle game League of Legends and one gamer’s determination for pro status cost him his life. A fan named Chen Rong-yu had his heart set on achieving professional status in the game, so he spent 23 non-stop hours playing League of Legends. Unfortunately, his heart had other ideas and he later died of a fatal heart attack.
7. Heart Attacks After Playing Atari Game
The first ever deaths to occur as a result of obsessive video gaming were that of Jeff Dailey and Peter Burkowski who died doing what they loved – achieving the highest possible scores on the Atari game, Berzerk. The title of this popular ‘80’s arcade game is rather appropriate since there’s nothing remotely sane about what these two gamers set out to achieve.
Both young men died of sudden heart failure after going to extreme lengths to beat their high scores. In 1981, 19-year-old Jeff Dailey died perfecting his personal best by spending hours (and countless quarters) playing Berzerk on an arcade machine. Burkowski, meanwhile, died the following year after spending months climbing the scoreboard at his local games room. Since these guys were so obsessed by high scores, they’d be pretty stoked to know that they are now a part of video game history.
6. 27 Consecutive Days Of Online Gameplay
Nearly a month of constant gameplay? We’re kind of surprised this guy didn’t die sooner, to be honest. A 33-year-old man from the Chaoyang district of Beijing died of heart failure and malnutrition after an unbelievable gaming binge that lasted 27 days! (650 hours). Just to put that into context, the moon would have almost completed its full orbit by the time this guy spent leveling up and killing bosses at his computer.
During this insanely long period, the 33-year-old Chaoyang man reportedly only lived off instant ramen noodles and hardly drank or slept. You could be forgiven for thinking that this guy was going for a world record attempt, but this was probably just his idea of downtime. Over the course of his near month-long marathon in an unlicensed internet cafe, the man apparently spent around 10,000 Chinese Yuan ($1,519) – this might’ve all been avoided if he’d spent that on a decent meal and a hotel stay instead.
5. 13-Year-Old Suicide Playing World Of Warcraft
The second gamer suicide on our list came in the form of 13-year-old Xiao Yi from China, who became so immersed in the World of Warcraft universe that he wanted to become part of it. According to Xiao’s parents, he was a good child and did extremely well in school before the World of Warcraft addiction took hold. Xiao began staying out at internet cafes for nights on end just to play WoW and things got to the point where his virtual friends had become his true family.
When Xiao’s parents eventually found him at his internet cafe hideout, it was obvious that Xiao had gone days without food and that he had no self-control. Feeling trapped by his obsession, Xiao reportedly took his own life in the hope he might meet his virtual pals in the afterlife. How a boy so young could become enslaved by a game to the point of suicide is deeply, deeply disturbing.
4. Heart Failure After Week-Long Binge
During a national holiday in China, a 26-year-old man knew exactly what he wanted to do with his hard-earned week off from work – take part in a week-long game marathon, of course! We’re not suggesting that this wouldn’t be most people’s idea of fun, but there’s a huge difference between chilling out with a few beers for afternoon gaming sessions and literally sitting down to a week-long game marathon…
Like any kind of marathon, you need to have your body and mind prepared for it, and while 26-year-old Zhang was certainly mentally prepared, his body was a different story. Weighing in at 330 pounds, avid gamer Zhang was not in the greatest physical shape which most likely contributed to his death from heart failure after the week-long gaming binge. Gamers like Zhang shouldn’t be denied their hobby, but they should probably pick up another one that actually gets the blood flowing.
3. Ironic Death After Enthusiastic Wii Fit Marathon
Unlike a lot of entries on this list, this gamer didn’t lead a sedentary lifestyle. Far from it! 25-year-old Scout leader, Tim Eves was obsessively playing the Wii Fit program in order to better himself. Unfortunately, ‘bettering himself’ meant compulsive and overly-enthusiastic exercising, when a quick game or a jog around the park may have sufficed.
Tim was apparently jogging to the Wii Fit program when he suddenly slumped to the floor and was pronounced dead at the scene. Considering his young age and the fact that Mr. Eves had no prior health concerns, his death may have been a freak occurrence brought on by a rare heart disorder. This is the danger of trying to beat your fitness score on an addictive game as opposed to going for a run in the real world. We don’t know about you, but this is making us think twice about breaking a sweat while trying a Wii Fit exercise.
2. Brain-dead And On Life Support After Xbox Play
It doesn’t seem likely that a video game could have this kind of violent reaction in someone, but sure enough, this is what happened to 13-year-old Anna-Lee Kehoe. Anna-Lee was asthmatic and an avid gamer and her obsession with playing on her Xbox may have distracted her from symptoms that should not have been ignored. One day, the teenager was playing some Xbox with her friends when she suddenly felt unable to breathe.
Instead of an asthma attack, Anna-Lee was experiencing a full-blown heart attack – one so severe, in fact, that she ended up brain-dead and in need of life support. Devastated by what a few hours of gameplay had done to their little girl, Anna-Lee’s parents eventually made the heartbreaking decision to take her off her life support machine. At just 13 years old, Anna-Lee is one of the youngest people to ever die of a video game-related death.
1. (Another) Nintendo Wii-related Death
While this person didn’t strictly die as a direct result of playing a video game, we’re including it because her insane dedication to a games console got her killed. Another person on this list may have pushed their body to the limits playing the Wii Fit game, but this woman pushed something very specific to the limits – her bladder. (And no, this wasn’t due to neglecting nature’s call while trying to find a checkpoint).
28-year-old Jennifer Strange from California took part in a radio contest called “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”. So determined was Jennifer to get her hands on the highly anticipated games console that she reportedly drank over two gallons of water and refused to go to the bathroom in the hopes of becoming the winner. Sadly, she died from water intoxication. We hope the radio station responsible for this stupid competition feels proud of themselves.
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