WESTWOOD–It’s the gaming sensation that’s sweeping the nation–and it’s deadly.
Last Tuesday, a UCLA student was found dead in his dorm room after a three-day marathon of the simple iPhone game Flappy Bird. In a phenomenon thought to only occur in South Korea, the student had locked himself in his room with nothing but ramen noodles, Red Bull, and bottles for urine. Reports indicate that the student died of dehydration.
The unnamed student was discovered by a roommate returning after going home for the weekend. Upon entering the room, the roommate was greeted with the horrifying sight of a dead body.
“It was awful,” says the roommate in question, “except he had a high score of 3,024. That’s pretty rad.”
Scores for the game cap at 9,999.
The death is reminiscent of three gaming-related deaths in 2005, although the games in question were MMORPGs and could be argued to have some sort of a social aspect. Flappy Bird, however, has been described by reviewers as “a single-player demonic torture app” that leads to “sleepless nights and shouting in the middle of silence.” Deeming the game “too addictive”, the creator recently made it unavailable for download. Unfortunately for this student, it was too little, too late.
“The psychological toll that subjects undergo playing the game is excruciating,” notes UCLA PhD Candidate Dirk Feldmenstein, whose research focuses on addictive gaming. “Luckily, this can be offset by the amazing, nirvana-like rush of ecstasy experienced upon definitively beating it. Unfortunately, most subjects never reach this state and yet continue to play. It’s a vicious cycle.”
University officials are already responding to the death with emails, posters, and lectures that all feature the dangers of addictive gaming. RAs in university-owned housing will be mediating discussions on the topic.
“Don’t play for longer than fifteen minutes at a time, unless you are really sure that you will beat your high score this time,” suggests Feldmenstein. “If you can’t stop playing, ask a friend for help. Maybe they can beat your high score for you.”
If you or a friend needs help with beating Flappy Bird, counselors in UCLA CAPS are available to assist you. Call (310) 825-0768 to schedule an appointment.