8/12/05



SOUTH KOREA VIDEO GAME DEATH STORY IS AN URBAN LEGEND!!!

CREDIT CASEY LARTIGUE!!!

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This not exactly the Drudge Report, I know. But here's another example of a non--journalist having to do the work of reporters, fact-checkers, and others in journalism.

Back when I was a cub reporter on the Harvard Crimson, I was taught the journalist creed: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." That is, always be suspicious of what you hear.

Unfortunately, it is readers who must "check out" so much of what is reported.

There's a story in the news about a South Korean man who alleged died while he was playing video games. The story looks a lot like a story from 2002 also about a South Korean man passing away while playing video games.

Here's a version of the 2002 story:

Game over - 86 nonstop hours later

October 09 2002 at 10:53AM
Seoul, South Korea - A 24-year-old South Korean man died after playing computer games nonstop for 86 hours, said police on Wednesday.The jobless man, identified by police only by his last name Kim, was found dead on Tuesday at an Internet cafe in Kwangju, 260km south-west of Seoul, they said.Quoting witnesses, police detective Oh Myong-sik in Kwangju said the man had been virtually glued to the computer since late on Friday and had no decent sleep and meals.The man collapsed in front of the counter desk but soon regained his consciousness. He then went to the toilet where he was found dead, said the police officer.

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Here's a version of the 2005 story:
South Korean Man Dies Playing Video Games
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- For some people, playing video games can be addictive and police in South Korea say that may have cost a man his life.

Police say a 28-year-old man collapsed at an Internet cafe and died after playing the battle simulation game Starcraft non-stop for 49 hours. They say he'd barely eaten anything while he was glued to the keyboard.

Doctors think the man might have had a heart attack.

Police say he was fired from his job last month because he kept missing work to play computer games.


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A number of
leading publications have run the article.

The stories are just too similar. An unemployed South Korean man dies while playing video games for an extended period of time. There are very few details, just that he passed away while playing.

I guess that I shouldn't laugh at media for falling for the story. After all, the epidemic of dying from video games has already spread, like the Asian Flu, from South Korea to Taiwan.

Man dies after playing video game for 32 hours
October 20 2002
A 27-year-old Taiwanese man died yesterday after playing video games in a cyber cafe for 32 hours continuously.

Lien Wen-cheng arrived at the cyber cafe in Fengyuan in central Taiwan at 10.30pm on Thursday and played video games non-stop, pausing only to go to the toilet, police said.

At 7am on Saturday, a staff member found Lien foaming at the mouth and bleeding from the nose on the floor of the cafe's toilet.

"They rushed him to hospital but he was already dead," local police said.

Police suspect Lien died from exhaustion, having sat in the same position for too long.

Less than 10 days ago, a 24-year-old South Korean man died at an Internet cafe in Kwangju, 260km outside Seoul, after playing computer games nonstop for 86 hours.


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What is really precious about the story about the man in Taiwan is that it cites the case of the Korean man who had alleged died just 10 days before while playing video games!

I hit on a few of the stories. The worst one has to be from the
BBC. Not only has the BBC fallen for the story, but it then went on to write a full article, discussing the amount of gaming going on in South Korea and quoting some quack psychologist about addictions.

I'll just take it for granted that the psychologist is a real person and not part of the urban legend like the famed South Korea police detective
Oh Myong Shik.

I guess that it is just a coincidence that I have lived in both South Korea and Taiwan. And, to add to the concern for my health, I also play video games a lot. As I recall, you can spend anywhere between 5 to 10 dollars an hour while playing video games. Let's say that the guy who played for 86 consecutive hours used one hour to go to the bathroom, purchase new tokens, talk to other players, etc. That means that if he played for the other 85 hours that he had already spent anywhere between $425 to $850! He could have bought PlayStation and many games for that amount of money.

Anyway, long-time readers of my blog know that I play video games a lot. Like a lot of other addicts, I bought the Madden NFL 2006 game on Tuesday, August 9. I had circled the date months in advance. I was up until 3 a.m. playing it last night. If I go at least a month without blogging here, you shouldn't be surprised to learn that I've moved back to South Korea or Taiwan and died there while playing video games.

As Drudge would say: Developing...

CJL

NOTE #1: The prolific La Shawn Barber has taken this story and run with it. Most of the hits have apparently been coming via La Shawn's site. The story has also been linked by LiveJournal, Ranting Right Wing Howler, Tamarin2087, Brainster's Blog, View from the Bushes, Public Enemy, Game Arena, Olde English, RPG Forums, Mach Five, Dyers, Fakhrurrazi.

NOTE #2: The main Urban Legends site that I check doesn't have anything about the epidemic of VGD (Video Game Death).

NOTE #3: I've searched some Korean publications and only come across one story. If it turns out that this story is really bogus, then Doctor Lee Ho of the National Institute of Scientific Investigation should have whatever scientific licenses he has shredded. That is, assuming that Lee Ho exists. If I'm wrong, then I won't play Madden Football for a week.