It's a tragedy. But perhaps more importantly, it's a tragedy that must be viewed in the correct light.
A Gameranx writer has reported a gaming-related death; a friend and coworker apparently died of a heart attack after a three-day Diablo III binge. You can read the heartfelt article if you wish, but bear in mind that a friend clarified, saying the victim was out with friends until 1 am the previous night, and the "three-day binge" isn't true.
But either way, this must be said:
Video games can and often do contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, so the knee-jerk reaction to blame this unfortunate incident on gaming is inevitable. Thankfully, I don't know of anyone who will make this mistake, but there are a lot of people out there who despise this industry or, at the very least, say it contributes significantly to the ill health of our nation. Therefore, it's critical that we recognize this as just more evidence of how bad off we really are; this society is in dire straits due to the aforementioned "sedentary lifestyle," and it goes well beyond games.
Many a citizen's diet is horrendous. In fact, the majority of most popular food should be flat-out banned from existence, as far as I'm concerned. Every new invention lets us sit more and move less. We rely on medication. We don't believe in self-discipline because at every turn, we are told – often subtly or even subconsciously – that we don't need it. The picture of the late Russell Shirley is sad but for bigger reasons…it's depressing because the man was obviously in poor health and worse, he was far too young to be in such a dangerous condition. Reality doesn't let me place all the blame on society (we are all responsible for our own conditions, at least to some extent), and in point of fact, I have to defend gaming.
There's no doubt that video games can exacerbate an existing problem; i.e., a person who is given to sitting more than anything else and eating terribly. But is it right to label the hobby of gaming a cause ? If we're going to do that, driving is a cause. The horrid health of truck drivers is legendary. Everything we do that eliminates the possibility of burning calories, from watching a movie to taking the escalator at the mall, is working against us. It's our responsibility to overcome the constant daily temptations, correct? But those in such poor condition as Shirley face what might seem to be an impossible struggle.
It's my hope that the name "Diablo III" is considered irrelevant in this tragic report. Yes, it very well could've been the catalyst, the straw the broke the camel's back, but for many years prior, a heart had struggled to beat. And all we've really done in the past several decades is to discover new ways for hearts to slow. That, my friends, is an issue that dwarfs the idea that "games make you fat." Look deeper, ever deeper, and you'll discover the truth. …didn't someone famous say that?