Lifestyle Staff Writer | Madison Lantelme-Capitano | email@example.com
Last week, I decided that reality absolutely sucked and I needed to be as far away from it as possible. I bought popcorn, candy and some energy drinks. I locked my door, put on my fluffy pink bathrobe and proceeded to relieve stress the best way I know how — binge gaming.
I alternated between “Majora’s Mask,” “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Skyrim.” By the time I woke from my caffeine-and-sugar-induced haze, I realized I had spent the last three days cooped up in my room with no substantial food and zero contact with the real world.
I forgot to do homework, hadn’t started on a paper that was due the next day and missed my friend’s breakup. I knew that I had been gaming for a while, but never noticed how much time had passed.
When I finally went to sleep, I didn’t wake up until after my 9 a.m. class Monday. Although it may seem like a funny story to tell, I was actually lucky.
In 2012, 15-year-old Tyler Rigsby was hospitalized for severe dehydration and exhaustion after a four-to-five-day “Call of Duty” bender. Unfortunately, Rigsby’s stint at the hospital is in no way the worst case scenario for serious binge gamers. In 2014, excessive play and too many energy drinks led one teen to fall into a thirteen-day coma. A three-day binge also contributed to the death of a man in China in 2011. And the gamers aren’t the only ones who can be harmed by obsessive binges. The Huffington Post said that in the UK, a 33-year-old mother of three was banned from computers after neglecting her children for six months in favor of the game “SmallWorlds.”
When you turn to gamer blogs and websites, it appears that no “gamer worth their salt” hasn’t gone on a good binge. According to Spiceworks, an online information technology community, you need a minimum of 24 hours for a truly successful binge. They even gives tips on how to better shun the real world by covering clocks and blocking out light in order to be ignorant of the passage of time. Practices like this can become dangerous when finishing one more quest takes precedence over eating, drinking and sleeping.
Severe dehydration, what Rigsby suffered from, can lead to seizures, shock, kidney failure, swelling of the brain or coma and death. More serious cases, like those of people that escape from a desert or play “Modern Warfare” for five days, require an IV and monitoring.
Sleep deprivation is another common side effect, and while its consequences aren’t as immediate as fainting and seizures, they’re no less harmful. There’s growing evidence that sleep directly affects the immune system. This means that the less sleep you get, the more trouble your body has fighting off infections and viruses, increasing the risk of contracting more dangerous diseases. Aside from health problems, sleep is an important part of productivity in school and work. Sleep deprivation makes it harder to comprehend and retain information, which makes that
physics lecture seem even more confusing than normal. And as far as the work place, not getting your eight hours can have bigger consequences than you may think. For example, Harvard also states in an article on sleep and performance, that investigators have ruled that sleep deprivation was a significant factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, as well as the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. So, moral of the story; if you don’t want to cause a nuclear crisis, get a good night sleep.
Binge gaming doesn’t always have dire consequences like death or nuclear accidents, but it isn’t a healthy or safe practice by any means. Fortunately there are ways to do it more responsibly; taking real breaks for an hour or two to eat, drink and reestablish a connection with reality would definitely decrease the chance of going overboard. For serious gamers, it might seem hard to put down the controller once you are on a streak, but you have to ask yourself, is a high score really worth your life?