March 2, 2007
When I last wrote about video game addicts, a 28-year-old South Korean man had died of heart failure after a 50-hour, espresso-filled session at an Internet cafe.
Tragedy struck again during the Chinese New Year. This time, Xu Yan, a teacher in the northeastern Chinese town of Jinzhou, died of a heart attack after playing online for -- wait for it -- seven days in a row.
Sadder still was Yan's response to reporters who interviewed him about his marathon thumb-fest before his death. "There are only two options: TV or computer," Yan said. "What else can I do in the holiday as all markets and cafeterias are shut down?"
That doesn't exactly strike me as the talk of an addict. More likely is that it's the honest assessment of a bored 330-pound 26-year-old with a computer. Nevertheless, Chinese officials say that one in 10 of their country's 20 million Web-using youth are addicts.
Yan wasn't one of them -- China is only counting those 18 and under -- but he's still likely to boost support for those who would further limit online gaming there and around the globe. And that makes the investor in me wonder: Will Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI ) , Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS ) , and The9 (Nasdaq: NCTY ) someday be compelled to help fund treatment for gaming addicts as Harrah's (NYSE: HET ) , MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM ) , and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS ) today provide help for problem gamblers?
Should they? Let me know.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers won't allow video games in his house. He's afraid his kids will stop going outside. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy kills bears dead.