Dead To The World
"I'm not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost."
- A.A. Milne
On July 13th 2012, an 18-year-old gamer walked into an internet cafe in Taiwan, booked a private room, and played Diablo III until July 15th, approximately 40 hours straight. An attendant of the internet cafe walked into the room on that Sunday and found the young gamer slumped over the desk. Upon waking, the young man took a couple of strained steps and proceeded to collapse. He was rushed to a local hospital and pronounced dead a short time after arriving. Preliminary reports point to the fact that he didn't eat, drink, or move for almost two days as pretty hefty indicators in the circumstances surrounding his death...weird.
On February 1st 2012, a 23-year-old man walked into an internet cafe in Taiwan, paid for 23 hours of use, and promptly settled in for an extensive World of Warcraft session. Ten hours into the session, the man was dead, slumped over in the chair, hands extended longingly towards the keyboard. It wasn't until 13 hours later, when an attendant closed in to inform the dead man his time was up, that anyone noticed this was less than a power nap. An entire cafe full of people, completely oblivious to the fact they were in the presence of death for more than half a day. Reports point to cardiac arrest as cause of death.
In May 2011, a 20-year-old gamer died after suffering from Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Massive, and frequent, 12 hour Halo sessions were the norm for the former hardcore gaming Brit. His constant lack of movement was the cause of his DVT, a clotting disorder generally associated with long-haul flights.
Three deaths in little more than a year's time...
Yearn For Heroes
While I regret the loss in our ranks, I do not mourn the death of my fellow gamers. I mourn the fact that they didn't see another option. Not that they weren't given other options, but that they didn't see them.
I get it. I am guilty of getting lost in a game. On multiple occasions I have forfeit sleep to maintain the flow that I was currently in, but never have I risked my life for a game. Nor have I ever felt the need. I don't see these deaths as a result of video game addiction, nor do I see them as process of physical ailment. I see these deaths as merely a symptom of a global society that no longer has heroes outside of fiction.
I know there are plenty of amazing humans that do absolutely amazing things on a daily basis, but I only know this because I actively search for them. If I didn't make a conscious effort to find the brilliance in humanity, if I were to sit back and allow the wave of popular culture flow over me, what would I see?
Top Ten Search Trends for 2011:
2.) Casey Anthony
3.) Kim Kardashian
4.) Katy Perry
5.) Jennifer Lopez
6.) Lindsay Lohan
7.) "American Idol"
8.) Jennifer Aniston
9.) Japan Earthquake
10.) Osama bin Laden
Top Ten Obsessions of 2011
1.) Charlie Sheen
2.) The Rapture
3.) "Friday" (Rebecca Black)
4.) Mortgage Rates
5.) Extreme Couponing
6.) Angry Birds
8.) "Game of Thrones"
9.) Government Shutdown
10.) Tiger Mom
Tell me, where do I find heroes in these lists? Where do future generations find the motivation to change the world in these lists? Where do I find anything but despair and shame in these lists?
Is it any wonder that so many turn to fiction for their reality? Is it any wonder that we pour hours upon hours into immersive fiction that presents the ability to mold worlds to your will, whether it be good or bad?
So, when I hear of a man who died from sitting at a computer for 40 hours playing the hero of a world that respects heroes, do I mourn? Hell no I don't mourn. I understand the draw that he felt, the desire to be something more in a world that seems unworthy of the thoughts of glory that call to me constantly.
Do I condone throwing your life away for the easy road? Again, hell no I don't. I despise much of what we have become as a species, but I fight tooth and nail to make the most of the time I have in order that I may lay to rest knowing that I pissed off the wrong people and got through to the select few.
I say this to you gamers out there forgetting that moderation is the key: I get it. I know why you hide yourselves away in the comforting corner of a fictional reality. I know why a controller and a headset make more sense than a face to face conversation. I know that they don't understand. I also know that nothing is worth shying away from attempting to effect change on the world. The path is rarely tread and far beyond difficult, but the reward is worthy of hero status. Something that our world desperately needs.
"When I was a young man, I had liberty, but I did not see it. I had time, but I did not know it. And I had love, but I did not feel it. Many decades would pass before I understood the meaning of all three. Now, in the twilight of my life, misunderstanding has passed into contentment. Love, liberty, and time, once so disposable, are the fuels that drive me forward."
-Ezio Auditore de Firenze