50 Hours = Death

exploding fatty
(image courtesy Mayz, Bad Day LA concept artwork)

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean man who played computer games for 50 hours almost non-stop died of heart failure minutes after finishing his mammoth session in an Internet cafe, authorities said Tuesday.

The 28-year-old man, identified only by his family name Lee, had been playing on-line battle simulation games at the cybercafe in the southeastern city of Taegu, police said.

Lee had planted himself in front of a computer monitor to play on-line games on Aug. 3. He only left the spot over the next three days to go to the toilet and take brief naps on a makeshift bed, they said.

Humans are crafty, often too crafty for our own good. Our bodies are smart, they evolved a system of checks and balances to keep us from masturbating to death, over eating, or running until our legs become bloody nubs. Things like pain response and exhaustion are our body’s dashboard indicators. Our blinking red “overheat” lights.

People who engage in physical activities on a regular basis know this. The concept of “no pain no gain” is quickly being replaced by, “if it hurts, stop”. Pain is an indicator that should never be ignored. Same with exhaustion or any other “unpleasant” feelings such as vertigo, being too full, dizziness, nausea, overheating, becoming hypothermic, dehydrated, etc.

Problem is that we’ve managed to invent a multitude of products and devices that circumvent our built-in survival mechanisms. With video games we can simulate adrenaline-flooded life-and-death situations most people only willingly experience when they do things like jump from airplanes, play paint ball, or go skiing.

The big difference between adrenaline producing experiences that require physical exertion and something “non-physical” like playing video games is that the former wears you out physically. You can only go for so long before your body quits and says, “No more down-hill racing, no more surfing, no more sex!”

Mr. Lee and a few relentless explorers before him are proving that a constant flood of adrenaline might override physical exhaustion as long as gaming continues. The usual warning signals are muted or absent because of the unique experience of gaming on your body. When the gaming stops and the adrenaline levels finally come crashing down, there’s nothing left to support the system. The body is exhausted, the chemicals are depleted. Death becomes a real risk.

Does this mean that video games should be regulated as a life-threatening product? Not unless you want to go after a million more obvious dangers that fit the same criteria.

Take fast food for example: same problem, different mechanism. The ingredients in fast food and soft drinks don’t trigger the body’s natural, “Hey fatty, I’m full!” response. Instead, because of their design, we continue to cram our faces long after our bellies are full. The result? 28% of males and 34% of females in the U.S. are obese. Some estimates put annual medical costs related to obesity problem in the U.S. at around 78 billion dollars. Talk about a serious problem in need of regulation. Someone call Hillary Clinton!

The same example can be made of almost any situation where we ignore the rule of “everything in moderation”. Even drinking too much water can kill you. For example:

(CBS) Conventional wisdom has always been to avoid dehydration during exercise. But for some marathon runners, excessive water intake can be dangerous and even fatal, cautions The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

She explains that drinking too much water during long-distance races, marathons and other endurance exercises can cause a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia, in which salt levels in the body are diluted by the excess water and fall to dangerously low levels, threatening vital bodily functions.

And researchers say hyponatremia may be a bigger problem than previously thought.

In the 2002 Boston Marathon, one female runner died because her body lost too much salt.

Any politician who says that games should be banned or regulated because gamers can “play to death” should first research all the other things that people can do “to death”. It seems obvious that what we’re lacking is not more regulation but simply more common sense. As a society do we really need politicians telling us what to eat, how to entertain ourselves, or how to use our bodies? Maybe we should all pay a little more attention to dashboard indicators that came with our bodies, and then we wouldn’t need government enforced padding everywhere.

4 responses to “50 Hours = Death”

  1. Yea, people have to not play videogames so much.
    I’m Korean and I know how much Korean people can get obsessed with video games. Of course, it’s not just Koreans…

  2. Ha! 50 hours straight? That’s nothing. I’ve pulled 4 to 5 day marathons many a moon. In fact, a friend and I recently had a competition of such. The rules: we’d have to keep in contact with each other every 30 minutes, you can only leave to go to the bathroom, grab a snack/drink, or to answer the phone.

    Lol, I’ve also had a water drinking contest – the same friend actually. I managed to chug down over 4 gallons of cold water, he put down only 2 1/2.

    Unless it’s a contest of some sort, I don’t like to pull all-nighters with video games. I like to be on top of game after a good night’s sleep; it gives me a chance to think over my strategies, a chance to let everything sink in.

  3. Thank you . For a second there I thought you were going in a ‘lets regulate video games’ direction … but that couldnt be the A. McGee I thought I knew

    Im going to be pretty upset if I see this example of foolish self-care in any political battle … or on Jack Thompsons personal agenda …

  4. Seriously it is such a problem. Why cant people just stop, why do we have to have so much of everything. If people cant control themselves I honstly dont see a problem with making them stop. It blows my mind to hear this morbidly obese 15 year old girl in my class complain about McDonalds taking biggie sizes off the menu.

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