Can Video Games Kill You?
As it is the spooky month of October I thought I would write about something so terrifying that you may not be able to finish reading this article. Death by video games! The answer may terrify you to your very core. There’s no respawning in real life (cue evil maniacal laughter).
Now I know it sounds crazy but video games can have real life consequences on our health. Only recently I wrote an article on how video games can actually benefit our mental health and showed how much good they are doing in the world. But there was one message I wanted to repeat, in moderation. Playing too much, for too long, too often can result in you actually being worse off. That’s right, a simple controller in your hand can actually make your heart stop!
Starting with the most obvious choice, prolonged console and PC gaming can lead to us becoming inactive for long periods of time. This results in us moving around less and if we stay still long enough it can even cause us to get older a lot quicker. So what would happen if we decided to just chill and play games for the rest of our lives and never leave our comfortable gaming chairs? Well firstly, you would develop sores on the areas of your body that you’re leaning on. These can go from mild itching red spots to black infected holes in the skin and muscle with a matching smell. These would become rapidly infected if not treated and cause sepsis. This is a condition where the body can no longer tell the difference between the infection and your healthy body tissue, so it attacks all of it and can lead to death if not treated quickly. So, there you go, games can kill you, end of article, and move on. Obviously this is an over exaggerated scenario, this would involve you having to go against all of your natural instincts to move and stretch, it would even involve you not going to the toilet or going to the fridge to get food!
So, what else? Well if you’re constantly sitting in front of a screen and not moving as much as others you could be gaining weight. This can lead to becoming overweight and even obese. Being overweight is linked to multiple different diseases and conditions that can reduce your lifespan and even kill you. Obesity has been linked to diabetes which is shown to reduce your life expectancy by up to 10 years and, if left untreated, can even cause you to slip into a coma or even have a stroke.
“So what?” I hear you say “I eat right, exercise and I’m not overweight”, well that’s the scary thing. You can be completely healthy, have an all-night gaming session and not come to breakfast the next morning. If you sit down at your computer and game for an extended period of time you can develop something terrifying called a pulmonary embolism. This is a clot in your blood that travels from your leg up to your lungs and kills you. These happen if someone sits in the same position for a long time and usually affects passengers on long-haul flights or patients who go in for long surgeries (that’s why they give you those super attractive socks to wear). Once again this is an over exaggerated scenario where you would have to actively ignore all of your natural instincts to move, stretch and use the toilet.
We’ve covered the terrifying but now it’s time to go into the disturbing. You can literally be scared to death. Playing horror games is fun, we get the adrenaline rush as if we are in danger only to realise that we are sitting safe in our chair with nothing to worry about. But is that really true? In 2009 a man was charged with the murder of a woman when police said that he literally scared her to death. He broke into her home, didn’t touch her in any way and she collapsed of a heart attack brought on by fear. So when we play horror games and the music goes quiet only to jump scare us into oblivion, it can not only kill our character but also kill our real life avatar. When we are scared it triggers the “fight-or-flight” response, this is where our heart rate and blood flow increases, our pupils dilate and our digestion slows way down. This is all caused by adrenaline, which in large amounts is incredibly toxic. It can damage your heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, and if your heart is flooded with too much adrenaline, it stops. There are no phoenix downs to save you in the real world. Okay, so maybe I didn’t mention that the woman in this scenario was 79 and had a weak heart, and also, this isn’t something you need to worry about if you have a completely healthy lifestyle and no pre-existing heart problems. It’s still scary though! Right?
So before you think about picking up your controller and turning on the latest water-cooled console just think, how much am I willing to pay to try out this new first person shooter? If the answer is your life then sit down, relax and enjoy. Because it might be the last game you ever play.
In all seriousness this is an over exaggerated article. All scenarios I’ve used basically say that if you never move again you’re screwed, which is the same as if we were to never leave our beds. Every scenario is also not specifically linked to games, it would be the same situation if you were to sit down and watch the TV forever. Each game you receive is thoroughly tested by gamers and the gaming authority to make sure that you have the best experience possible. If you’re concerned about your health or the health of anyone you know please contact a qualified health professional.