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Games Entertainment

Why Do Computer Games Claim Lives? 321

Ektar wrote to mention an article from Chosun, a Korean newspaper, asking the question why do videogames claim lives? The article is in response to some recent high profile gamer deaths. From the article: "Apparently rare overseas, such cases make frequent headlines in Korea. Why? Experts point to the poor environment of the 'PC bang' or Internet cafes that have mushroomed nationwide. Generally dark and poorly ventilated, they cater to gamers who tend to smoke heavily. The bad air and light can increase the danger of sudden death, experts warn."
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Why Do Computer Games Claim Lives?

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  • Re:The game did it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cnettel ( 836611 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:04PM (#14281563)
    Well, maybe the game didn't, but obviously the gamer's love for (or obsession with) the game DID.

    I think the situation is similar to several possibilities to die from drug use, where the real reason for death is not a physiological reaction outside the brain, or even a brain collapse, due to the substance, but rather the fact that the substance keeps you from keeping yourself in a living condition.

    As I noted in another comment, this seems to be connected to the cafe gaming environment, which maybe makes the enjoyment more intense (or whatever, I don't really know). If it is that way, then we can just ask(/regulate) the shopkeepers to pay some attention to what their customers are doing.

    If a game was released that really, with total certainty, made anyone who played it so obsessed with it that IV feeding always ended up as the only option, then I would think it would make total sense to stop it. It's not unreasonable to think that it would be possible to create something that triggered the general human nervous system that intensely, either.

    Before that, it's a matter of distributing the blame. It's reasonable (without more detailde information) to place most of the blame on the poor suckers who died, but that doesn't mean that everyone who would have been able to do something about it, but didn't, should feel good about themselves. If, for example, a MMORPG allows continous login for 48 hours, that sounds like a stupid idea, even from the simple "stop the bots" perspective. If it can stop one or two involuntary suicides, that's quite nice, too.

  • by shawb ( 16347 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:37PM (#14281760)
    20 days without sleep could be deadly, though.
  • Re:The game did it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:41PM (#14281775) Journal
    Our society of no responsibility (created by lawyers, so they can make money off of every single thing that harms a person, every time it happens) allows addicts a whole range of excuses they can use instead of fixing the problem.

    Hey, let's call these people irresponsibility addicts! Then we can blame the lawyers for getting them hooked on quick money for being irresponsible!

    On a slightly more serious note, therein lies the whole philosophical conundrum: to prevent what appears to be an easily preventable tragedy, the one person whose actual responsibility it is to prevent it has no desire to do so. At that point, people start wringing their hands and saying someone else should take up the responsibility instead. And it's unconscionable that nobody should handle the problem, because it appears so preventable.

    That, sadly, is the keystone for the founding of the nanny state. That's where the state gets invited in to watch for people doing this one thing irresponsibly. And while they're there, someone will almost certainly reason, they could watch out for this other thing, and maybe those things as well. It's people thrusting power and responsibility onto the state, and the state is only too happy to receive it.

    And the ultimate twist? Those people who want the state to protect the irresponsible are themselves giving up responsibility for whatever the problem may be.

  • Re:The game did it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pyrion ( 525584 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:48PM (#14282087) Homepage
    Except in the case of video games, as with all other "addictions" that don't rely on foreign substances, it's completely your fault.


    Simple. There's no foreign substance being ingested, inhaled or injected. If there are any chemicals being consumed within your body perpetuating the "addiction", they're also chemicals being produced entirely within your body. That's assuming it's a chemical addiction in the first place.

    If it's merely psychological, then only you hold responsibility for what goes on in your head.
  • by Raindance ( 680694 ) <johnsonmx&gmail,com> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:56PM (#14282126) Homepage Journal
    I'm not racist, I don't think IQ means anything incredibly important and I'm sure it's not the whole picture, and I think your response was lacking. Given that, here's my response.

    You can't compare IQ across populations. IQ is standardized on a population and then only predictive on that population. If the test had of been standardized on African-Americans, Asians would score below 100. Its all down to how good your culture is at answering the IQ questions picked.

    That's a pretty bold, sweeping assertion. IQ tests aren't perfect, but neither are they arbitrary. I'm going to call you on that. Do you have any sources supporting this? Especially given that ACT/SAT/GRE are largely IQ tests?

    The source you picked is a bit suspect as at least one of the authors seems to have a racist agenda.

    I won't apologize for a racist, if that's what he is (it's hard to tell), but the fact remains that this is an interesting question, he's one of the few compiling any sort of statistics, and I don't think you've made a good case on why his statistics are invalid. If you have counter-statistics, I'd love to see them. Basically, I think you might be attacking your stereotype of the misinformed racist layperson. I can understand that, since this is a touchy subject, but it's also an interesting subject if we can find a good way to discuss it.

    Now I suspect you didn't go far enough in your research to find this, but just remember that IQ has long been used to justify racial superiority. When ever you see a cross cultural comparison based on IQ please consider the source.

    I appreciate your point (though I think your suggestion that I "didn't go far enough" in my research was inappropriate- you don't know me, and I'm not calling your credentials into question), but taking this stance hinders any serious discussion about this issue. I don't conflate IQ with superiority, and acknowledge IQ has been mis-used in the past. It's also not what most people think it is, and isn't the whole picture of a person. *But* I think the burden is on you to prove that IQ measures *nothing* given the amount it's used in our society. The military uses extensive IQ testing, and ACT/SAT/GRE tests are basically IQ tests.

    As for the rest of your post, as a psych student I would be very interested to see the correlation between intelligence and obsessive behaviour (of any kind). While it is a stereotype that more intelligent adolescents play video-games, I would need evidence to show that there is any causal relationship.

    I find this response a little too dismissive. But to respond, I think though there is little non-anecdotal data on this subject to date, there is plenty of anecdotal data, as you mention, and examining the lives of famously successful intelligent people (i.e. Newton, Einstein, Kant) showcases obsessive tendencies. Conflating "famously successful intelligent people" and "intelligent people" to make an anecdotal argument certainly isn't a bulletproof argument-- but personally it's more than enough to suggest that someone should study this. China, however, has to make immediate and important predictions on how their population will react to online gaming, and I think they'd be foolish to rule out a genetic component which is also correlated to IQ out of hand, given the (ample anecdotal) evidence.

    If you put serious thought into a response, I will respond.
  • Re:Well, Korea... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kalayq ( 827594 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @09:25PM (#14282246)
    From what I have seen, Korean society compared to North American society is a lot more fast paced. (I currently live in Korea) This faster pace of life is pushed on by a very high level of competition between people. My Korean friends tell me that they play games to relieve stress and get away from their busy life for a bit. I personally believe that the competition and high level of stress, push a few people to become MMORPG addicts. The deaths may be helped by the addiction, but I believe that these people had other health problems to begin with.

    Just a note about the instant noodles here. MSG and other flavouring chemicles are still used liberally in the instant noodles. I wouldn't be surprised if these chemicles did a fair amount of damage to the deceased's body.

  • chlorine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @10:34PM (#14282484) Homepage
    You know, if games, much like smoking, overeating, narcotics, and STDs throw a little chlorine in the gene pool, what's the problem? We're all ultimately better off that they aren't breeding.
  • Re:The game did it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @10:42PM (#14282500)

    I wonder how many of the people opening their mouths and saying "addicts should be responsible" have actually had to deal with an addiction in their own life. Or watch someone very close to them do self destructive things & refuse to stop

    As it happens, you're talking to somebody whose mother just completed a detox programme last week for alcoholism. She recognised she had a problem, and she did something about it. She needed help dealing with that problem; she was physically addicted, and going cold-turkey is dangerous for alcoholics (it can bring on seizures, etc). But she did something about it. That's a totally different scenario to having a problem and ignoring it until it kills you.

  • by Arcys ( 99663 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @01:27AM (#14283137)
    I never meant to suggest that you were racist. I may have come across badly. I was pleased that you cited a source, and that I could follow it up. I do not think that you are racist because you, in good faith, cited a source of someone of questionable motive.

    The IQ test, (Often the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale) is a standardized test. When you standardize on a population you reject questions that produce both a low or high score. When applied to a population that is different from the standardized one, some of the questions that they would have performed well may have been rejected.

    The best example of how this can be done is to take repeated IQ test. When you do this you will learn how to write these tests, and your score will improve accordingly. You are no longer representative of the standardizing population, and so the validity of the test has been reduced.

    It is fairly safe to assume that the military uses tests that are standardized on the population that they are recruiting from. As for the SAT/GRE and all those other tests. They aren't intelligence tests, what they do is predict performance in a particular environment. When you don't perform well on a SAT because you aren't a member of the standardized population, you still will have the same problems when you try and perform in the target environment.

    Don't get me wrong I wasn't saying that IQ tests are useless, just that they lose validity across cultures. As for the arbitrary, well intelligence is a bit hard to pin down. As such any definition of IQ has some parts that are arbitrary. What IQ does more than anything is test performance in the western style academic and work place environments. As such it is only an intelligence test as far as those are correlated.

    As for the second part of my post. I wasn't trying to be dismissive, I was just interested if you knew of any links.

    Finally, for the citations, well sorry but my library access is down so I can't look at any real sources right now, but I did get help from my 1st year psych book. None of the others I checked even mentioned IQ.
  • by cobras2 ( 903222 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:44AM (#14283615)
    >As I noted in another comment, this seems to be connected to the cafe gaming
    >environment, which maybe makes the enjoyment more intense (or whatever, I don't really
    >know). If it is that way, then we can just ask(/regulate) the shopkeepers to pay some
    >attention to what their customers are doing.

    Then again, I think the exact same thing is true of a bar. Why is it that all these people can go to the bar, and get drunk (with the bar's staff being quite happy to continue shelling out more drinks as long as the cash keeps coming in), and then once the customer is completely drunk, they walk out to their car, and on the way home they run into and kill someone.. and none of the blame goes to the bartender..?

    I'm not saying it's all the bartender's fault - on the contrary, it's the drunk's fault for getting drunk. But if anybody (read: the bartender) cared about either the drunk or the person he killed, they either wouldn't have let the guy get totally drunk in the first place, or at the very least would have tried to make sure the guy took a taxi home or something.

    It seems to me it would be a little like a gun store owner seeing two guys get into a fight out in front of his store, and then one guy ducks out of the fight to come into the store and buy a gun... and the owner sells it to him. Sure, it's true that the guy who then proceeds to leave the store and shoot the other guy he was fighting with is the one responsible for the death. But the gun store owner knew what he was going to do with it, so shouldn't that count as being accomplice to murder or something?

    I don't have a problem with beer, or guns, or video games.. if you use them properly. And people only start dying from them when you *don't* use them properly.
  • Re:Sleep Deprivation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nick Kirven ( 688016 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @04:31AM (#14283732)
    I've done seven. No sleep, no food, and drinking nothing but coffee and booze. The light show near the end was freakin' amazing.
  • by agraupe ( 769778 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @10:53AM (#14284782) Journal
    I'm not sure exactly where you live, but here in Canada, a bartender or other server of alcohol (if you are, for example, serving alcohol to party guests at your house) can be held responsible for overserving if the drinker in question goes and kills himself or someone else. That's why a lot of bars insist that you give them your keys when you start drinking.

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