Dying to Play: Young People Who Have Died While Gaming

Are you planning any marathon gaming sessions during Spring Break Week? Be careful! After hours of gaming, most lucky gamers go away with a headache or sleep deprivation. Other gamers are not so lucky and end up hospitalized or dead.

A medical condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is increasing in incidence from people’s sedentary lifestyles due to computer working, binge-watching, and gaming. DVT is a blood clot that develops in one of the deep veins in the body, usually in the leg or lower torso. DVT can lead to serious complications if the clot breaks off into the bloodstream. When this happens, it can enter the lungs causing a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal if the circulating clot is large.

Although DVT is not directly caused by playing video games, it can occur after sitting immobile for a long stretch of time, which most video game players are guilty of doing sometimes. Gamers as young as 12 years old have suffered from DVT after hardly moving for hours. So it’s very important to take regular breaks from game playing, and avoid sitting in the same position for hours at a time no matter what you’re doing.

Can someone really die from playing video games?

  • Chris Staniforth died after spending up to 12 hours playing Halo on his Xbox without breaks. Chris, a 20-year-old UK Game Design student, collapsed after telling a friend he’d been experiencing peculiar pains in his chest. A coroner confirmed DVT and pulmonary embolism as the cause of death, despite Staniforth having had no history of ill health or underlying medical conditions.
  • Rustam was a 17-year-old Russian teenager who broke his leg and was immobile for weeks. TheGamer reports that he decided to pass the time by playing DOTA for 22 days non-stop. When his parents noticed something was wrong, they rushed him to the hospital but it was too late. Doctors declared Rustam dead on arrival of DVT, caused by him sitting in one place for too many hours in a row.
  • A young man in New Zealand developed life-threatening blood clots in his leg after a four-day marathon of PlayStation games. At the time, the 31-year-old painter was on vacation, spending eight hours each day sitting on his bed with his legs outstretched, according to the case report.
  • In a Taiwan internet café, an 18-year-old named Chuang played Diablo 3 for 40 hours straight without taking any breaks. As reported by TheGamer, an employee checked on him after noticing Chuang resting on the table. After being woken up, he stood up for a few moments and took a few steps before collapsing. He was rushed to the hospital but was shortly pronounced dead. Doctors believe he developed a blood clot after sitting in one spot for almost two days.

Having an active lifestyle is paramount to staying fit and healthy. Microsoft, the manufacturer of Xbox, recommends that “gamers take breaks to exercise as well as make time for other pursuits.” Dr. Jo Twist, chief executive of UKIE (the UK Interactive and Entertainment trade association) told The Telegraph: “We encourage all games players to take regular breaks of roughly five minutes for every hour of play.”

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