The following is the summary of “Sudden gamer death: non-violent death cases linked to playing video games” published in the December 2022 issue of Psychiatry by Kuperczko, et al.

Internet gambling disorder (also known as IGD) is on the rise. Although there have been isolated instances of deaths related to video games, no comprehensive scientific study has been conducted on the subject. Researchers looked at such examples to identify patterns, establish a causal relationship between gaming and death, and identify the factors that may have contributed to these tragic outcomes. Approaches Cases were gathered via internet search using broad keywords, narrow keywords for selected cases, and by following cross references.

One incident dated back to 1982, while the remaining 23 occurred between 2002 and 2021. Males made up 23 of the victims, ranging in age from 11 to 40. About 12 of the deaths were in internet cafes, and Southeast Asia accounted for more than half of the instances. Intense multiplayer games were played by gamers. In 18 cases, the fatal gaming session lasted for an extended period of time (a day or more) with very few breaks in between. In  5 cases, pulmonary embolism was the cause of death, while in 2 cases, brain hemorrhage was the cause of death, and the remaining cases likely resulted from fatal ventricular arrhythmia.

Increased blood pressure during gaming can encourage cerebral bleeding, and various conditions (acute and chronic sleep loss, tiredness, stress) might lead to acute autonomic dysfunction and deadly arrhythmia. Non-violent video game-related deaths probably occur relatively seldom. Gaming over extended periods of time is a common symptom of this disorder, which primarily affects young boys.