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A 32-year-old man in Taiwan died in an Internet cafe after playing video games for three days straight.
The man, referred to in the report only by his family name Hsieh, died of cardiac failure while sitting at a computer. The report notes that it took employees awhile to notice that he had passed away because of his tendency to fall asleep at his chair.
"Hsieh was a regular customer here and always played for consecutive days. When tired, he would sleep face-down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair. That is why we were not aware of his condition in the beginning," an employee of the Kaohsiung cafe said.
This is the second death related to gaming binges in Taiwan this year. The first came on New Year's Day, when a man was found dead at an Internet cafe in New Taipei City. That gamer had played for five days straight before passing away.
Now you're probably saying, "This report isn't depressing enough. What else you got?" Well, you'd be hard-pressed to find something sadder than the last line of Taipei Times' report.
“We went inside to cordon off the tables and had investigators there to gather evidence. Only then did the other patrons realize that someone had died, but they still showed no concern and kept playing their games. We were amazed at their nonchalant attitude,” a police spokesperson told the site.
The Taiwanese authorities didn't mention what game he was playing. They opted to simply describe it as a "combat computer game." I'm thankful for the omitted detail. I'm not sure this death would be any more understandable if we had known the game in question. No one would be saying, "Oh, of course, Counter-Strike! Who wouldn't play that until their heart gave out?" "Ah, League of Legends, no wonder!" It's a baffling death no matter what.
Knowing the game's name would just deflect the attention toward the developer or publisher. A journalist would ask them for a statement and get no reply. The game would be slammed by some cable news pundit who had never heard of it until 10 minutes before taping. Fans of said game would then (deservedly) mock those critics for a day. Then we'd all move on until the next gamer is found slumped over in their chair.
The real culprit here, though, is clearly mental illness. It's the only possible conclusion when someone engages in an otherwise safe activity to the point of fatal harm. Doing that requires you to be in some way deeply troubled.
Taiwanese authorities told Taipei Times that they're going to have "more patrols" to remind people of the dangers of prolonged gaming. They advise players to take breaks after every two hours of gaming. What else can they do, if gamers are allowed to essentially live inside these cafes? I hope there's a better way to address this issue than having police tell kids to get up and stretch, though.
I'm not sure what the long-term solution is. Would more funding for mental health facilities or restricted hours for Internet cafes stop someone intent on playing for multiple days at a time from indulging their habit? Whatever the solution is, I'mreally tired of seeing this happen over and over, though. It's dumb and avoidable.