Berzerk is a true story about the weird deaths of two young men who played the same video game in their local arcade. They were the first people in history who were killed by a computer game.
Berzerk was a very successful arcade game that was released in 1980. It was invented by Andrew McNeil after he had a nightmare where he was trapped in a video game and forced to fight robots. The title of the game came from a book called ‘The Berzerker Stories’ about robots who go insane and kill everybody.
Berzerk was the first video game in history that actually killed two of its players.
In the game, you have to guide a little man around a maze which is filled with killer robots who fire lasers at you. If the robots shoot you, you die. If the robots touch you, you die. If you touch the walls, you die. Your nemesis is a bouncing smiley face named Evil Otto who appears out of nowhere and tries to destroy you. Evil Otto is unusual because there is no way to kill him.
Berzerk was one of the first video games to use speech. When you walked by it in the arcade, it would scream, “Coins detected in pocket!” During the game, Evil Otto would scream, “Intruder alert! Intruder alert! The humanoid must not escape! Kill it!”
In January 1981, Jeff Dailey became the first person to be killed by playing a video game. The 19-year old died of a massive heart attack right after attaining a high score of 16,660 on Berzerk.
In April 1982, 18-year old Peter Burkowski Peter Burkowski arrived at Friar Tuck’s Game Room in Calumet City, Illinois. He went straight to the video game machines, dropped a coin into the slot and started playing Berzerk. After 15 minutes, he got his initials into the Top Ten scoreboard. Then, he suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack.
Evil Otto watched both of them die… with a big smile on his face.
Over the years, there have been a number of other fatalities caused by playing video games.
A 33-year-old man from China died after a staggering 27 days of online game play. That’s 650 hours of non-stop gaming. Over this period he barely drank or slept and all he ate was ramen noodles. He died of heart failure and malnutrition.
A 13-year old girl named Anna-Lee Kehoe was playing with her Xbox 360 when she started muttering, “Mom, I can’t breathe.” She suffered a heart attack so severe that she was left brain dead and on life-support. Anna-Lee’s parents decided to pull the plug, making her one of the youngest video game deaths in history. Anna-Lee had asthma and doctors speculated that an asthma attack may have contributed to her heart attack.
A South Korean man called Lee Seung Seop died in 2005 after playing Starcraft. He lost his job and his girlfriend because he spent all of his time playing the game. After a 50-hour gaming binge, Lee told his friends he was going to stop playing and go home. Then, he closed his eyes and fell off his chair. Lee died of heart failure caused by exhaustion and dehydration.
In 2007, a 26-year-old man named Zhang, from Northeast China, died of heart failure after a week-long marathon of online gaming during a national holiday. Zhang was an internet addict who weighed over 330 pounds and never got any exercise.
In 2012, an 18-year old gamer from Taiwan named Chuang died after playing Diablo III for 40 hours straight. He was in an internet cafe at the time passed out by a terminal. When he was awoken by an employee, he managed to stand up, took a few steps, then collapsed. No cause of death was identified at the time, and police were investigating what mind have led to Chuang’s untimely demise.
The most recent video game death was 20-year old Chris Staniforth from the United Kingdom who suffered a pulmonary embolism. Chris frequently participated in 12-hour long Halo sessions without breaks and during one campaign, a blood clot traveled from his legs into his lungs, killing him instantly.