Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cause of death: obsessive video gaming

In August, a 28-year-old man died after nearly 50 straight hours of playing online computer games. The man, whom police refused to identify by name, was moved to a hospital after he collapsed while gaming and died three hours later.

Many of South Korea's 17 million gamers -- some 35 percent of the population, principally males in their teens and twenties -- are obsessive. At the 1,000 won-per-hour ($1) Internet cafes popular among young South Koreans, they'll sit eyes glued to monitors for hours on end. Sometimes play will extend for days...

In this country of 48 million people with the world's highest per-capita rate of broadband connectivity at 70 percent, the rise in addiction to multiplayer online gaming is alarming psychologists.

The number of counseling sessions for game addiction quadrupled last year, the government says. There were 8,978 sessions in 2004 compared with 2,243 cases the previous year, and the first seven months of this year saw 7,649 sessions.

This year's gaming death wasn't the first such case of someone dying at a computer terminal in this game-crazed nation: In 2002, a man died in Kwangju after 86 hours of marathon gaming.

The latest casualty collapsed August 5 in the southern city of Daegu after having eaten minimally and not sleeping.


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