Deaths in gaming community should serve as warning to marathon gamers

The Staniforth family of Sheffield, England, shared a cautionary tale about the dangers of marathon video game sessions with the London’s Sun this past weekend, after a coroner report found that the sudden death of their 20-year-old son in May was due to a blood clot caused by deep vein thrombosis.

Deep vein thrombosis has long been a condition typically associated with airline passengers on long flights.

But it can also be brought on by sitting in the same position for extended periods of time, which appears to be the case in Chris Staniforth’s death.

According to Staniforth's father, David, “Chris lived for his Xbox. When he got into a game he could play it for hours and hours on end, sometimes 12 hours in a stretch.”

This devotion, according to the coroner’s report, may have been a key factor in his untimely demise, as it was determined that a blood clot had dislodged itself from Staniforth's left calf, before resting in the 20-year-old's lung and blocking a key artery.

With no history of any other underlying medical issues, David is hoping the death of his son will be a warning for other parents about the increased risk of deep vein thrombosis that prolonged gaming sessions may cause.

He said, “Games are fun, and once you've started playing it's hard to stop. I'm not for one minute blaming the manufacturer of Xbox. It isn't their fault that people use them for so long. But I want to highlight the dangers that can arise. Playing on it for so long is what killed him, and I don't want another child to die.”

Unfortunately, while Staniforth's death may help to bring more awareness to the dangers of extended video game play to the West, this is an all too familiar occurrence among the Asian gaming community.

In 2002, a 24-year-old South Korean man died after spending 86 straight hours gaming in an Internet café.

Only days later, a 27-year-old Taiwanese man endured a 32 straight hour session before succumbing to exhaustion.

This tragic story was repeated again in 2005, after a 28-year-old South Korean man collapsed after spending 50 hours playing the popular game “StarCraft.”

And just this past February, a man died after gaming for three days straight at an Internet café outside of Beijing.

Sadly, this problem has become so prevalent that the South Korean government passed a curfew law banning anyone under the age of 16 from playing video games from midnight to 8 a.m.

Other Asian countries have also passed similar measures to curtail Internet usage among minors.

These regulations include banning underage teens from Internet cafés, and there are also programs designed to log players off of online games after five hours.

Naturally, most of these deaths result when players choose to ignore their body’s natural signals.

But as most gamers can relate to spending hours at a time in front of a monitor, health care professionals are reiterating their advice: take regular breaks away from the screen, and stretch and walk around.

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