For almost two years now, Fortnite has continued to be a global sensation. With more than 200 million registered players and over billions of hours played every month, this free-to-play Battle Royale has been continuously breaking records and bagging numerous awards.
Even in Pakistan, people play it on any device they can get their hands on, be it a computer, a gaming console or even a mobile phone. The game itself is a very addictive one and the most enticing thing about it is that its available for free!
However, in a shocking turn of events, recently an 11-year-old Model Town resident was found lifeless while playing the game.
Fahad Fayyaz, an 11-year-old video-gamer from Lahore, was rushed to the hospital on the 5th of February after his friends found him unconscious in his room with a controller in his hand. According to his parents, Fahad had returned home from school in a happy mood and had showed no signs of any sort of stress.
Reportedly, Fahad got upset when he learned that one of his friends would not be joining him in the game and is claimed to have said, while talking to his co-players, that he would suffer from a heart attack if he did not win the match. Upon being rushed to the hospital, Fahad was soon pronounced dead by the doctors and the cause of death was declared to be cardiac arrest.
Fahad Fayyaz would sit in front of his computer screen and play the video-game for hours on end. His parents knew about his apparent addiction, but never thought that it would lead to such a tragedy.
His uncle, Riaz Khalid is reported to have stated: “Fahad’s parents knew about his addiction to the game and they used to stop him from getting so involved in it. However, children with such an addiction never listen to their parents.”
He urged other parents to keep an eagle eye on their children and limit their screen time to a few hours per week. Grieving over his nephew, he stated that the loss was irreplaceable. Moreover, he highlighted how this tragedy was testament to the fact that a video-game addiction is a very serious thing should be dealt with by parents immediately.
However, it seems all too easy to blame the child for being addicted, or the parents for not stopping their child from playing a video game. This opens up the avenue of discussion around video game addiction in the first place and how damaging it truly can be.
The reward system within each game can make it potentially addictive. Does this mean we lay off of them altogether? Or do we encourage fair and reasonable usage?
In 2018, the World Health Organization included “gaming disorder” within the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. However, the parameters of this disorder are vague and will, perhaps, take shape as time passes. There’s quite a bit of contradiction within the research that has been conducted.
Regardless, the American Psychiatric Association outlines some ways in which the addiction is diagnosed. It is as follows:
Now that we know about the problem, we can begin diagnosing it. Though all of this is still being studied, if we can identify the signs and treat this with importance among the gaming community, we could be making a difference.
The incident has been an eye-opener for many parents and kids alike. As the gaming industry grows, it’s important that we start having these discussions, and not at the cost of more lives.
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Cover image via wbur.org