Taiwan Gamer Dies After Three-Day Gaming Binge

By McCarton Ackerman 01/21/15

Employees of the cafe thought the frequent customer was only sleeping.

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A gamer in Taiwan passed away this month at an Internet café after a reported three-day marathon session of online gaming.

The 32-year-old man, who was only identified by his surname of Hsieh, reportedly died at an Internet café in the city of Kaohsiung on Jan. 8, but details of the case are only now coming to life. A police statement said that over-exhaustion and cold temperatures inside the building likely contributed to his death.

An employee found Hsieh motionless and called paramedics, but he was reportedly dead for several hours before police arrived. Gamers in the café also reportedly kept playing as though nothing had happened, even after police and paramedics arrived.

Hsieh was reportedly a “regular customer” who often played for consecutive days. His family noted that that the unemployed man would frequently disappear to the café for two to three days at a time because he had no place else to go.

"When tired, he would sleep face down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair," said a staff member at the café. “That is why we were not aware of his condition in the beginning.”

Tragically, this isn’t the first time that an online gaming death has taken place in Taiwan. A 38-year-old man was found dead at a separate Internet café after reportedly gaming for five days straight. A separate gaming death in Taipei in November 2012 went unnoticed by other gamers and staff for 10 hours, even as the 23-year-old man lay motionless. Once again, the gamers appeared disinterested when police arrived.

Shocking deaths like these could be the reason why South Korea proposed in May 2013 that video games should be regulated in the same manner as drugs and alcohol. Rep. Shin Eui-Jin, a member of the conservative Saenuri Party and former medical professor, introduced the bill that would give the government authority to control the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of video games.

The South Korean government currently spends about $10 million per year to fund Internet and gaming addiction treatment centers, in addition to "prevention programs" like imposing a national online gaming curfew for anyone under 16 years old.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.