After Hours

Chinese gamer dies from exhaustion!

"Warning - Health and Safety: Before playing, read the health and safety precautions booklet for important information about your health and safety"

I had always thought this warning message displayed as I switch on my Nintendo DS was a little over the top; am I really going to 'brain train' myself to death? In fact I had always thought that any warning labels on computer games were there purely for the peace of mind of the ‘health and safety brigade' (not forgetting the company lawyers of course). Surely people can work out for themselves when it's time to stop? Apparently not! The Associated Press reported on a man in southern China who has died from an overdose of online gaming. After playing online games non-stop for three days in an Internet cafe, the 30 year-old man fainted and was shortly pronounced dead by paramedics. The cause: exhaustion. I was quite surprised that Googling this showed up quite a few cases of people dying in Internet cafes after long stints of online gaming.

This is by no means a new phenomenon. The BBC reported on a man dying from exhaustion in South Korea after a 50-hour gaming session; The Register reported on a similar case back in 2002 where a gamer was discovered dead in an Internet cafe's toilet after a marathon 86-hour stretch. What also struck me was that a majority of these instances were in Asia where online gaming is taken extremely seriously; gaming professionals can earn in excess of $100k / year.

What lessons can Sys Admins take away from this unfortunate incident and others like it? Knowing how drained I've felt after a few 36-hour sessions locked in the comms room, if something's gone wrong and it has to be back up and running by Monday at 9am:

  1. Don't forget to eat
  2. Don't forget to sleep (at least take a power nap or two)

You can only run on empty for so long. I know that sounds quite obvious but it seems to some people it's not!

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