Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game-Induced Seizures: A Neglected Health Problem in Internet Addiction

This paper was written by Dr. Yao-Chung Chuang. Published in CyberPsychology & Behavior, August 2006, 9(4): 451-456. This shows physiological ramifications of too much online gaming, resulting in, among other issues, seizures. RE

Abstract

As the Internet has become rapidly and widely integrated into society, Internet addiction has become a growing psychosocial problem. However, epileptic seizure, another out-of-the-ordinary health problem, is often neglected in this regard. Ten patients who experienced epileptic seizures while playing the newest genre of electronic games—Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)—were investigated. Patients were predominantly male young (sic) adults, and most of the events were generalized tonic-clonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, and absences. These patients should be categorized into idiopathic generalized epilepsies. Even though photosensitivity was an important factor, behavioral and higher mental activities also seemed to be significant seizure precipitants. Results demonstrated that MMORPG-induced seizures were not analogous to the ordinary video game–induced seizures. Significantly, an epileptic seizure warning did not always appear on the websites of MMORPGs and instructions for the software. While the prevalence of MMORPG-induced seizures remains unknown, it may exceed our expectations and impact our society. Not only for clinical neurologists but also for the primary physicians, educators, sociologists, and global online game publishers, there should be an awareness of this special form of reflex seizures in order to provide an appropriate health warning to MMORPG players.

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