Twenty-year-old Chris Staniforth was an expert at slaying opponents during long sessions of playing "Halo" on his Xbox, but the game would kill him in the end.
An autopsy revealed that Staniforth, a resident of Sheffield, England, died of a condition called deep vein thrombosis that occurs in people who sit in one space for extended periods of time. Coroners said Staniforth died from a blood clot that formed in his leg during one of his 12-hour "Halo" sessions and then traveled to his brain.
Now, Staniforth's parents are using his case to plead for more awareness of the detrimental effects prolonged video game-playing can have on a person's health. Staniforth's father told the BBC that his research suggested that there is "no difference to Chris sitting at a desk on his Xbox and someone on a long-haul flight," a finding that Dr. Brian Colven, an expert on blood-related conditions, told the The Sun newspaper in London.
"There's anxiety about obesity and children not doing anything other than looking at computer screens," Colven said.
It is an issue that has taken on resonance as people point to the increasing immobility of children as a potential culprit for America's obesity epidemic. Research on the topic has been inconsistent, however: while one study found that children who spent at least an hour a day watching television or playing video games were twice as likely to be obese, a more recent study discounted the role of video games in child obesity while finding that factors like race, age and socieconomic factors were much stronger predictors of weight.
Some video games may even provide health benefits, a BYU study found. According to that study, active games like Wii Boxing and Dance Dance Revolution could be equivalent to other forms of outdoor exercise.