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A man in China reportedly stopped feeling his legs and couldn’t walk after a 20-hour gaming binge at an internet cafe in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province. When the man finally tried to get up to use the bathroom, he discovered he couldn’t feel his legs, according to Newsweek. His friends called for help and paramedics arrived on the scene within moments.
The gamer, who remains unidentified, reportedly wanted to continue playing the game even while he was being taken out on the stretcher. Video of the incident was uploaded to the Chineses video service Pear.
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) moved to list gaming addiction as a mental health disorder, prompting serious debate over the mental health impacts of destructive gaming behavior. WHO lists “continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences” over a period of time among the symptoms, with gaming being prioritized over sleeping, eating, or attending work or school. The Electronic Software Association denounced the decision, saying “video games are not addictive” and “putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder.”
But some healthcare officials, like technology addiction specialist Dr. Richard Graham at London’s Nightingale Hospital, welcome WHO’s decision and the awareness that could come from it. “It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services,” Graham told the BBC. “It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.”
The incident with the Chinese gamer isn’t the first of its kind. In 2015, a teen gamer died from playing a video game almost non-stop for 22 days in a row. And back in 2010, a South Korean couple faced serious charges after their baby died of malnutrition while they tended to a digital child in an online game.
Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.