A story appeared on mainstream news outlets last week regarding a young man in Taiwan who died of cardiac arrest at an internet cafe:
Hong Kong (CNN)A 32-year-old man was found dead in an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a marathon three-day gaming binge, the island’s second death of an online gamer this year.The man, surnamed Hsieh, entered the cafe in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, on January 6, Jennifer Wu, a police spokesperson from the Hunei district precint told CNN.
An employee found him motionless and sprawled on a table at 10 a.m. on January 8 and he was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead from cardiac failure, she added.”He has been unemployed for a long time, and internet cafes were the only place he could go to,” she said.”His family said he would disappear for two to three days on end.”
It is not known exactly how long the man lay dead in the Internet cafe but police said his corpse had begun to stiffen so he must have been dead for several hours before they arrived on the scene.Police said gamers in the café continued as if nothing happened even when the police and paramedics arrived.
According to the Taipei Times, the man was a “regular customer” who often played for consecutive days. “When tired, he would sleep face down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair,” the staff member was quoted as saying. “That is why we were not aware of his condition in the beginning.
Taiwan is no stranger to deaths from marathon sessions of online gaming.Hsieh’s death came after 38-year-old man was found dead at an Internet cafe in Taipei on January 1 after playing video games for five days straight. And in 2012, the corpse of man who died playing online games went unnoticed for 10 hours by other gamers and staff. CNN
Who was this man? Unemployed, directionless, lonely, and single, he seemed to find his only happiness in life at the internet cafe, playing ultra-violent, and highly addictive online games. Did his family and friends not see any danger in his video gaming habits? Or did they nonchalantly brush any concerns aside and view it as a harmless activity? In the bigger picture, what are these games doing to our boys and young men, not just in Taiwan, but all over the world? What are the effects of gaming on their bodies, minds, and spirits? These internet cafes filled with young men playing games can be found in cities all over Asia. Harried and stressed parents are usually relieved to have the boys out of the house and busy doing something, and at least not getting in trouble. The cafe owners are happy to take their money. Nobody pays them any mind, and they spend countless hours of their life sitting in one position, tense, motionless, and oblivious to their surroundings. Neglecting to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom, they easily lose sense of time and of reality itself.
It doesn’t surprise me to read that the owners of the cafe neglected to notice the dead man for many hours. Why would they? It’s not their job to check up on the patrons. ‘The guy’s slumped in his chair; I guess he’s taking a snooze.’ They couldn’t care less. Nor am I surprised that the other patrons of the cafe didn’t even bother looking up when the corpse was carried out and the paramedics and police arrived. Why let reality intrude upon their fantasy world? Nothing- and I mean NOTHING- can disturb a gamer’s concentration when he is in the midst of his game.
We are losing ourselves to the tyranny of the screen and seem not to care. It’s easy to read a story like this and morbidly laugh, and think, ‘what a loser.’ What happened to this poor man is an extreme case and his tragic ending made news headlines. But the slower death afflicting the tens of millions of other boys in the cafes won’t make the headlines. The cafe where Mr. Hsieh died continued operating even during the police investigation, with the patrons going on as before. It will change nothing and carry on, as will all the other internet cafes in Taipei. What did they say in ‘The Godfather’? “It’s just business.”