Gamers at internet cafe in China (Getty Images)It's easy to get absorbed in a game, but it's another thing entirely to be so absorbed that you don't notice the guy next to you has died.
Gamers in a Taipei internet café failed to notice the newly deceased for a staggering amount of time earlier this week. Officials estimate that 23-year-old gamer Chen Rong-yu had been dead up to nine hours before anyone realized it.
Rong-yu entered the café to play popular online game League of Legends on Tuesday evening, and was there for quite a while. Witnesses saw him on his cell phone around noon on Wednesday (still playing), but on Wednesday evening a waitress found his corpse, sitting rigidly in the chair with his hands still stretching toward the computer.
Initial reports indicate Rong-yu suffered cardiac arrest brought on by blood clots. Those clots likely formed due to cold temperatures, his lack of movement, and general exhaustion. Rong-yu was reportedly treated for a heart condition last year, though police are still investigating the matter.
While it's rare for gamers to pass away while playing, it's not unheard of — especially in Internet cafes. Players tend to concentrate intensely on their games, ignoring factors like the body's need for sleep and food.
Last year, a 30-year-old Chinese gamer died after staying up for three consecutive days, barely eating or drinking anything. In that case, however, fellow gamers noticed the problem immediately and he was rushed to a hospital, but could not be revived. In 2005, a South Korean gamer suffered the same fate after a 50-hour marathon session of Starcraft at another internet café.
The issue is hardly constrained to internet cafes in Asia. Last August, 20-year-old Chris Staniforth suffered a pulmonary embolism after a marathon session on his Xbox.
The deaths underscore the risk of game addiction, which more and more people are becoming increasingly worried about as the industry grows.