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Online gaming can kill you

Says Korean doctor.

Just a week after another South Korean man collapsed and died following a mammoth gaming session, a new report on the phenomenon has been published by the National Institute of Scientific Investigation.

According to Korean news site Digital Chosunilbo, the report states that the main cause of death amongst people playing computer games is pulmonary thrombo-embolism. Dr Song Hyeong-gon of the Samsung Seoul hospital told the site that the risk is higher for gamers due to the nature of their preferred activity.

"People who haven't slept for a long time usually don't realise how exhausted or stressed they are," he said.

"Because they are stressed by the obsession with winning the game, they consume a considerable amount of energy. In such a physically exhausted condition, exposure to bright colors or stimulating images on the screen is likely to irritate the cerebral cortex and can cause sudden death."

Apparently Korean gamers are also at high risk because many of them play in Internet cafés, which are often dark, badly ventilated and full of cigarette smoke. And because some spend long periods of time sitting at their PC without moving, they're also at risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Course, it wasn't like this in the good old days, according to Eoh Gi-jun of the Korea Computer Life Institute: "The games we played in the 1980s were winnable once you found out the programmed rules of the game, but when playing network games you have to compete with millions of players all around the world," he said.

"You may be one of the top ranking players one moment but drop way down the next second. Because of the massive competition, people can't stop playing."

Which could have fatal consequences, Dr Song said. "Parents should pay attention to how much time their children spend playing games because young children and teenagers are more vulnerable and may grow into adults lacking social skills - or in the worst case, lose their lives."