A 44-year-old Russian man died in a freak accident while playing a virtual reality game in his Moscow apartment earlier this month, local news agency TASS reports. A preliminary analysis of the scene suggests the man tripped and fell on a glass coffee table while gaming, having died shortly after due to a major blood loss, according to Yulia Ivanova, Senior Assistant to the Head of the Russian Investigative Committee. The body was reportedly still wearing a VR headset once found last Thursday. Local authorities are presently in the process of investigating the matter and are expected to publicize their findings in early 2018.
Russian media later reported the man was playing a Star Wars VR game but didn't specify which one. Disney already licensed numerous VR games based on the popular sci-fi franchise, with the latest one of them being Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges. Other such experiences include Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission, Rogue One: Recon – A Star Wars 360 Experience, Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, and Lightblade VR, among others. Given how the man was presumably standing before his fatal fall, spectator-like experiences which don't require players to move a lot such as the X-Wing VR Mission from EA's Battlefront can likely be excluded from the list of possible games he played. Unverified reports from Russian media claim the man was still alive after the fall and continued playing the game instead of seeking help which is said to have ultimately led to his demise. Local authorities are yet to corroborate any such claims.
If verified, the incident may not only mark the first VR-related death in the history of the industry but also strengthen the possibility that video games are eventually included to the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases whose latest draft is already trying to define them as possible addictions. Most game-related deaths and illnesses are a result of exhaustion and rarely lead to accidents similar to the one reported in Moscow. The VR industry is still in its infancy but continues to grow at a steady pace, with recent estimates putting the combined value of VR and AR sectors at over $200 billion by 2021.