Believe it or not, gaming can be helpful to the human body. There are games that get you up off the couch and dancing; games that can get you to sweat. Wii Fit, Dance Central, and countless other exercise games have given gamers the opportunity to move around at least a little bit. Of course, this is not a suitable substitute for eating healthy foods and regular exercise, but it’s good to see game companies are trying. And though not medically-proven, games may also help hand-eye coordination and aid people like myself with poor vision. This is all well and good as long as the gamer uses common sense.
I saw a news report last week which prompted this piece. A 15 year old kid in Ohio was brought to the hospital after a gaming marathon that lasted nearly five days. His parents said he only emerged to shower and get some snacks. On the fifth day, his mom finally took him out to visit a relative. At the relative’s house, the kid collapsed. His mother took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with severe dehydration.
So, I’m wondering, did the kid stay awake the whole time? I can barely stay up after midnight. When I was still able to pull all-night gaming sessions, I was utterly useless the next day. The idea of going for almost five days straight is ludicrous. And, from what I understand, he was playing Call of Duty. The single player campaign being extremely short, he was most likely playing the multiplayer portion of the game. Those who are in to COD multiplayer are known to play it religiously. So, the kid plays COD multiplayer. What would possess him to play it for THAT long? And why not get something to drink while playing? If he was grabbing snacks, why not grab a glass of juice or water. Heck, grab a Coke. I would like to think he would get at least a little parched.
But, the kid’s 15. He’s a dumb teenager. At least that’s what the old-timers believe: Teens are dumb, right? So, in that case, where were his parents? As I understand it, his mom got rid of his Xbox 360 after the incident. Where was she the 4+ days he was in his room? As a gamer and future parent, even I would force my kid to go outside. It took her five days to roust him from his room. Now, I know teens can be hermit-like, but she should have tried a little harder to be a parent. Parents need to take an active role in their child’s life. If the kid’s mom had just laid done a little authority, he probably would not have ended up in a hospital bed with a IV pumping him full of fluids.
My point is simple: use common sense. It doesn’t hurt to heed the health and safety info provided by the games themselves. Take a break every hour or so. Stretch. Get a drink. Go for a jog. Along with this case of dehydration, there have been cases of blood clots and even death from gamers not taking care of themselves while engrossed in a video game. What makes this even worse is that the news media loves stories where something that is meant to bring people joy ends up causing them harm. So, take the 15 minutes out of every 60 and we’ll all be better off for it.
-The 4th Wall is an imaginary barrier that separates a particular medium from its audience. It is also a weekly column on Vagary.tv born from the Just In Bailey column, written by Joey Alesia. Each week, Joey looks at video games and the industry as a whole and works to break the 4th Wall armed with over 25 years of gaming knowledge and a twisted sense of humor. Be sure to follow Joey on Twitter (@wrkngclsswrtr) or email him at Joey.Alesia@Vagary.tv.