Gamers are often stereotyped for living an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. Video games are often played for hours while sitting on a couch. Companies attempted to make gamers more active with the PlayStation Move, Xbox 360 Kinect, and Nintendo's Wii. These games forced us to get up and dance or assisted with exercise. Virtual Reality headsets have taken a larger role in immersing players in new worlds. Still, these new devices have us staring at a screen for hours, and for more hardcore players, days.
Adult gamers with real life responsibilities often turn to their controller or keyboard and mouse for relief. For most, it means a few hours, then returning to life as normal. Some parents take their gaming too seriously, leading to neglecting their child or worse, killing them because they got in the way of an intense multiplayer match. Some want a game so badly they are willing to steal or rob from family and strangers. Video game addiction is often taken as a joke but can lead to real consequences, such as prison or jail. Gaming can be a safe hobby, but it's important to know your limits. Sitting in one place for too long for any reason isn't good for your body.
After hours of gaming, most lucky gamers go away with a headache or sleep deprivation. Other gamers are not so lucky and end up so sick that they're hospitalized or end up dead. We've compiled a list of gamers who died while playing video games.
15 Zhu Caoyuan
Gamers often become so addicted to MMORPGs that they lose all sense of reality. Both Qiu Chengwei and Zhu Caoyuan were heavily invested into the Legend of Mir 3, a game which features avatars using giant broadswords. Chengwei and Caoyuan jointly won a rare Dragon Saber. Chengwei allowed his friend to use the Dragon Saber first. Instead of using the sword, Caoyuan sold it for 7,200 yuan, or $870, instead. Chengwei first attempted to lawfully get back the sword. He went to the police first. Since the Dragon Saber was not a real, physical item, there was nothing the police could do. Caoyuan promised to give Chengwei the profit he made. Impatient and angry, Chengwei stabbed him in the chest with "great force" according to police, which killed Caoyuan. Chengwei turned himself into police.
14 Gabriel Cavalcante Carneiro Leao
Before Pokémon Go, Niantic Labs developed another addictive mobile game for Google called Ingress. Within the alternate world, two different factions are fighting for freedom or control. Ingress required that players go to different locations to gain levels and become stronger. Ingress was still growing at the time and lacked warnings not to play while driving or to be aware of your surroundings. A teenager in Brazil named Gabriel Cavalcante Carneiro Leao was an avid player. He enjoyed going out to play Ingress, and his mother warned him several times to be careful. Unfortunately, Gabriel didn't listen to the warnings. On his way to capturing a gray colored portal for his faction, he crossed a busy street without looking both ways. He was struck by a bus and killed.
13 Chen Rong-yu
Gamers in Asian countries often to go internet cafés to play video games. It's cheaper to rent a few hours of time on a computer instead of purchasing a gaming set up at home. In Taiwan, Chen Rong-yu was a fan of the online game League of Legends. He often visited internet cafés to play the competitive game. One day, he took his addiction too far and played for 23 hours straight. Chen suffered from a heart condition, and the combination of fatigue, little movement, and cold weather temperatures overcame him. An employee thought he was sleeping, but found him cold and unresponsive. He suffered a heart attack from playing for such an extended period. Police found him with his hands still stretched out on the keyboard and mouse.
12 Calvin Riley
When Pokémon Go was first released, excited gamers who grew up with the series wanted to become Pokémon Trainers. Gamers took to the streets, searching for Kanto region's Pokémon and to face-off in gym battles. Unfortunately, some gamers were willing to trespass on private property and face legal trouble. Others only went out in the night and were victims of robberies or assaults. Calvin Riley, a young college student and athlete, was a fan of the mobile game. He was shot in the chest in Aquatic Park in San Francisco while playing. A year has passed since Calvin lost his life and his killer has still not been found. Authorities and his family are offering over $100,000 for information leading to the killer's arrest.
11 Shawn Woolley
EverQuest is a fantasy MMORPG with thousands of players worldwide. Shawn Woolley had ADD and epilepsy but found comfort in the game. He became so addicted to the game that he neglected his family and quit his job. He eventually had to move back home. His mother, Elizabeth, noticed he had seizures after playing EverQuest for extended periods of time. She tried to send him to a group home to get help with his addiction, but he left before the treatment ended. He purchased a gun and locked himself in his room. His mother broke the lock to see that Shawn had shot himself and EverQuest was still running on his computer. To help others struggling with addiction, Elizabeth started On-Line Gamers Anonymous. She also requested the developer, Sony Online Entertainment, place an addiction warning on the game.
In Taiwan, gamers can rent almost unlimited time in internet cafés. Hsieh was a regular customer after losing his job. His family was used to him leaving for days at a time to play video games at a café. The employees were used to him playing for long periods of time and then taking a nap on the table on in his chair. After playing a game for three days straight, an employee found him laying on a table. Usually responsive, Hsieh did not wake up. He suffered a heart attack and died. Police checked camera footage from the café and noticed that Hsieh struggled with chest pains before collapsing. Other gamers in the internet café continued to play as normal and ignored Hsieh.
9 Tim Eves
Nintendo's Wii Fit encouraged gamers to get up and start moving. It helped gamers get some exercise by giving them challenges and helping them reach fitness goals. Breaking gamer stereotypes, Tim Eves was a fit, young adult. He often participated in outdoor activities and only hours before had come home from traveling in Portugal. He was jogging in place on the Wii Fit balance board while his girlfriend and friend watched. Suddenly, he collapsed on the ground. His friends called an ambulance, but paramedics were unable to revive him. Family and friends learned that Tim was possibly killed by Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome, a disorder of the heart. While jogging, Tim's heart may have stopped pumping blood to the brain, which explains his sudden death.
Developers are aware that their games can be highly addictive. Blizzard announced to their fans to play in moderation. Some gamers don't listen to these warnings and continue to play for several hours at a time. In Taiwan, an 18-year-old named Chuang rented a private room in an internet café. He played Diablo 3 for 40 hours straight without taking any breaks for food or rest. 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 on the ground. He was rushed to the hospital but was shortly pronounced dead. Though the exact cause of death is unknown, doctors believe he developed a blood clot after sitting in one place for almost two days.
7 Jeff Dailey
When video games first exploded in popularity, few were aware of the medical dangers. Berzerk is the first video game known to have a player die while playing it. In the early 1980s, young high school student Jeff Dailey entered an arcade in Illinois to play Berzerk. He made the top ten list twice within fifteen minutes. After entering his name, he collapsed, dying of a heart attack. Berzerk would later take the life of Dailey's best friend, Peter Burkowski. The game had been too much excitement for Burkowski, who had scar tissue on his heart. Playing Berzerk was too much strain on him. The Deputy Coroner Mark Allen stated that video games were not the cause of the deaths, but the stress of playing them had a severe impact.
6 Lee Seung Seop
Lee Seung Seop was known to family and friends as a gaming addict. Though he loved playing video games, he led a normal life. He worked as an industrial boiler repairman and had a girlfriend, who also shared his love of gaming. Unfortunately, gaming became more important to him. He played video games late into the night and was often late to work the next morning, which lead to his firing. He also broke up with his girlfriend. In early August, Lee entered an internet café to play StarCraft. He played the game for fifty hours, only stopping to use the restroom. Lee also ate and drank very little during his gaming binge. After his friends had found Lee, he told them he would finish up his game and go home. He shortly collapsed, dying of heart failure from both exhaustion and dehydration.
5 Chris Staniforth
Multiplayer often brings gamers together. Chris Staniforth loved being able to play Halo online. Being able to compete with other players around the globe was addictive. Chris played on his Xbox for up to twelve hours at a time. He slowly began to develop pains in his chest but did not see a doctor about the issue. Chris developed Deep Vein Thrombosis from sitting immobile for such a long stretch of time. He suffered from a blood clot blockage in his lungs called a pulmonary embolism, which took his life. His father, David, knew of his son's love of his console. He does not place the blame of his son's death on Microsoft but wanted other games to be aware of the dangers of gaming binge sessions.
4 Anna-Lee Kehoe
Anna-Lee Kehoe was a young teenager who had asthma. She enjoyed playing her Xbox 360 and often immersed herself in games. She had been so focused on the game she was playing and did not realize her worsening symptoms. After taking a break, Anna was able to tell her mother "I can't breathe" before collapsing. Her mother immediately called paramedics. After Anna had been rushed to the hospital, her parents were informed that Anna had suffered a heart attack so severe that the left side of her brain was dead and she required life-support. Anna's parents decided to make the tough decision to take her off of life-support, making the teen one of the youngest to die from playing video games in history.
Rustam was a 17-year-old Russian teenager who broke his leg. Immobile for weeks, he decided to use the free time to play Defence of the Ancients, more commonly known as DOTA. Rustam was glued to the game, only stopping for restroom breaks, sleep, or eat. His binges started around six hours at a time and gradually grew longer over the course of a year and a half. He eventually was playing for 22 days, non-stop. One day Rustam's parents came home, not hearing their son playing his favorite game. They noticed something was wrong and rushed him to the local hospital. Unfortunately, they were too late, and doctors declared Rustam dead on arrival. His death was caused by Deep Vein Thrombosis, caused by Rustam sitting in one place for too many hours in a row.
2 Brian Vigneault
Binge playing games for charity has become popular on streaming websites. Twitch streamer and father of three, Brian Vigneault often played hours of games for charity. This time Vigneault was playing World of Tanks for twenty-hour hours straight to raise money for the Make-A-Wish charity. His friends noticed that Vigneault didn't seem very well, and urged him to get some rest. After twenty-two hours had passed, he got up to take a cigarette break. His fans noticed he never came back and grew worried. Vigneault had collapsed outside and died of a heart attack. After hours of inactivity, a Twitch moderator messaged Vigneault on Discord to check in on him. A Virginia Beach detective responded on Discord, informing the moderator that Vigneault had passed away.
Blizzard's World of Warcraft MMORPG is known to be highly addictive. A 26-year-old man from China named Zhang was extremely addicted. He had gained over 320 pounds and had become extremely unhealthy. He had time off during the Lunar New Year holiday and decided to use that time to play his favorite MMORPG as much as possible. He played World of Warcraft for seven days straight. He was found twitching and slumping over his computer screen. Paramedics tried to revive Zhang, but it was too late. He passed away from heart failure. The death was caused by his weight, poor blood circulation, and oxygen deprivation from sitting for too long. Zhang's binge marathon also inspired the South Park episode “Make Love, Not Warcraft".