One of the wonderful things about a fandom is that it can be a healthy source of escape from day to day stresses. A place you can go mentally, or even literally if meeting with fan friends or going to related events; to feel connected to a community other than work, school, or people you know who just may not be into what you are. Unfortunately, what was once merely a hobby can become a deadly crutch.
Video gaming has been popular for decades but the advances of technology have provided positives and extreme negatives to this community. Giving gamers the ability to access these fantasy worlds whenever and wherever they want, as well as adding in an interactive element where you can chat with others, can become a melting pot of wonderful fan stories, or a powder keg of destruction. A small window into how this lifestyle can be harmful is in the MTV True Life episode “I’m Addicted to Gaming” but two ripples in international news concerning gamers will display the two polar extremes of what video games can do to people.
Via an article from Chris Morris at Yahoo! News, a Diablo III gamer in Taiwan died after close to two days of marathon gaming inside an internet cafe. He apparently did not leave his computer to eat or sleep (did he at least get up to go to the bathroom?!) but eventually fell asleep on top of his table. The gamer was probably scared of getting in trouble for overstaying his welcome, so when an employee roused him awake, he sprung up to exit, but “collapsed after a few steps and was rushed to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead,” Morris writes. “An autopsy is pending, but authorities noted that the long period of sitting still could have created blood clots, which proved fatal.” His piece on Yahoo! also has information on other gaming marathon related events that ended in death.
Where does the responsibility lie here? Is it on the gaming industry for creating too many products and resources for their consumers? Is the blame on the consumer for not controlling themselves? Or in the circumstance of these internet cafe cases, should moral and economic control be taken when people are occupying their businesses for these long periods of time to perform these self damaging activities? Either way, drastic stories like these can bring a large amount sadness and judgement towards this community. However, like some fantasy worlds, there are happy endings.
From an article by Melissa Knowles, also at Yahoo! News, the romantic story of online couple Cady and Will meeting for the first time in an airport is covered. Though no doubt adorable, what also makes this story amazing is that the couple “met” while playing first-person shooter game Halo, which is usually more stereotyped as a guy’s game. But as asserted, albeit bitterly, by writer Latoya at Jezebel: “girl gamers are invisible to the industry”, so stories like this affirm that gamers can break away from the stereotype of the self-harming addict, or even past gender pigeon-holing, and find healthy meaning in their gaming hobby.