Everyone’s done it- you pop down for a few matches of Fortnite and next thing you know you’ve been building stairs over an enemy’s wall to shotgun them in the face until 3 in the morning. Today we’re going to take a look at the consequences, in this episode of the infographics show, What would happen if you played Fortnite for 24 hours straight.
In recent years, there’s been a flux of stories in the news about video game addicts being discovered dead after marathon sessions. With video games like Fortnite becoming more and more addictive though, the likelihood of serious health issues from long video game sessions is starting to worry many doctors around the world. But what exactly happens to you and what risks are you taking when you play video games non-stop for really long stretches of time?
The first risk you face from a 24 hour long Fortnite session is one familiar to many businessmen. Known as “economy class syndrome”, deep vein thrombosis used to be a major health issue for business travelers making frequent long-distance, 12+ hour flights. Thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins of your body, often in the legs. Long periods of inactivity can lead to blood pooling and then clotting together, and eventually pressure can force that clot to move along your circulatory system where it can reach your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism.
Sudden shortness of breath, pain in your chest and discomfort that worsens as you take a deep breath or cough, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or coughing up blood are all signs of a pulmonary embolism and if you experience any of the things, you should go to an emergency room right away. After experiencing deep vein thrombosis, an individual can also suffer from a complication known as postphlebitic or postthrombotic syndrome, where damage to your veins results in reduced blood flow to the affected area which triggers persistent swelling of the legs, leg pain, skin discoloration, and skin sores.
The best way to avoid deep vein thrombosis is to take frequent breaks from your marathon gaming sessions and avoid sitting still for long amounts of time. Maybe try taking a little break every time an enemy shotguns you in the face and you find yourself back in the Battle Bus; do some quick jumping jacks to get that blood flowing again.
The second risk to your health may take more than one 24-hour Fortnite session to develop, but it’s definitely the most deadly: heart failure. In 2015, a 32 year old man in Taiwan was discovered dead in an internet cafe due to heart failure after a three-day gaming binge. When paramedics arrived on-scene, they suspected he had been dead for hours, with nobody noticing, as his body had already begun to stiffen, and after performing an autopsy doctors pronounced that exhaustion, lack of sleep, and the cold temperatures of the internet cafe had led to his death.
This might seem like a surprise for most people since video games tend to lead to obesity from a lack of activity, but video games also tax the mind much more than regular exercise and can exhaust an individual faster than physical exercise. Addicted gamers often push themselves past the limits of regular exhaustion, and given the poor health of most marathon gamers, this can prove too stressful to the heart which soon gives out.
Any secretary or modern writer in the world can tell you that if you sit at a computer for long enough, you run the risk of carpal tunnel, caused by stress on the wrists from the unnatural position of hands on a keyboard. But did you know the same can happen to your hands from holding a controller? Known as Nintendonitis and officially recognized in 2003, the condition forms from repetitive strain injuries caused by mashing the same buttons over and over again for hours on end.
Typically affecting the wrists and hands, it can move up to the forearms and even reach the elbows depending on the person and their physical play style. While carpal tunnel can be relieved with surgery, no such procedure exists for Nintendonitis, and instead doctors recommend you limit your gaming sessions and again, take frequent breaks to give your hands a break.
Go on any construction site in the world and you’ll see men with special harnesses and back braces- tools to help them manage lower back pain after a lifetime of lifting and straining with heavy loads. But did you know that the same thing can happen to you just from sitting and playing video games? Modern chairs and couches can be extremely comfortable, but they force the human body to sit in a very unnatural position that it wasn’t designed for. If you ever watch any nature documentaries that feature native populations, you might catch a glimpse of them squatting around campfires or as they wash dishes in a river; that squatting position is what the human body was naturally designed to do. Sitting can put severe strain on the tailbone and lower back muscles, and that strain can badly weaken those muscles.
While one single 24 hour Fortnite session probably won’t be enough to damage you for life, several in a row can quickly lead to persistent back pain and lifelong injury. To get an idea of just how prevalent chronic lower back pain is amongst video gamers, a 1999 European study found that there was significantly more back pain reported among children who played video games for more than 2 hours a day versus children who simply watched TV. Scientists theorize that this is because video games focus our attentions so much more than television alone, and when you’re paying attention to white-knuckle Fornite sniping matches you’re not paying attention to how you’re sitting.
Everyone’s heard it at one point or another, typically from an overly concerned mother: sit too close to the TV and you’ll hurt your eyes! The reasoning is not exactly accurate, but you can severely damage your vision from staring at a tv or computer screen for 24 hours at a time. While distance does have some effect, Computer Vision Syndrome, or Digital Eye Strain has a variety of causes- chief amongst them though is the fact that unlike printed media or even real life, computer or tv screens often display extreme changes in color, lighting levels, and even focus as exciting scenes unfold in a video game.
This forces the eye muscles to work overtime and can lead to stress and fatigue, which in turn makes it harder to focus or cause headaches. Even the most high-def screens playing video games on ultra graphics settings are still not as sharply defined as real life or letters on a printed page, and this lack of definition adds to the effects of Computer Vision Syndrome. While most effects are short-term, play too many 24 hour Fortnite sessions in a row and you can experience long-term or even permanent loss of vision acuity; and if you already have a vision problem, you could be doubling or even tripling the severity!
The last effect just might be the scariest, other than your heart suddenly stopping- and that’s because we know the least about it. While video games have been proven to improve critical thinking skills, reflexes and even encourage teamwork instincts, scientists have discovered that long-duration video gaming actually physically changes the structure of the brain. While not likely to happen from a single 24-hour Fortnite session, too many marathon sessions in a row can actually lead to an enlargement of the brain’s reward center, which leads to a desire to play even more games.
With many studies supporting and refuting different conclusions about the effect of video games on the brain, the end-result of this enlargement is still anyone’s guess, but psychiatrists suspect that it could be the leading cause of a growing trend in longer and longer marathon gaming sessions. These effects could trickle down to other areas of an individual’s life, especially in any activities that are traditionally risk/reward in nature such as gambling or drug use, making affected individuals more susceptible to other negative addictions.
One 24 hour Fortnite session will probably just leave you exhausted and with some short-term vision strain- not to mention some serious B.O.!- but pack too many of them together too closely and you can start taking some serious risks with your health. Because most long-duration gamers tend to repeat their marathon sessions multiple times a week, anyone playing 24 hours of any game in a row is likely going to repeat the activity. If you’re one of these individuals, or even if you just enjoy a few hours a day, remember to take care of yourself and follow our advice: take short, frequent breaks, and go outside once in a while for some light exercise. The Battle Bus will be ready to drop you into a new match in seconds as soon as you’re back; no need to make yourself sick over it!
So, what’s the longest you’ve ever played video games and what were the consequences? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video, Ninja vs the Average Player – How do they compare? Thanks for watching and as always, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!